Dr. William Lausche – Pioneer Category – Inducted 2021

A dentist by profession, Dr. Lausche was active for nearly sixty years in the music field. Dr. Lausche was a brilliant composer and arranger; played the piano proficiently; produced and directed recordings on national labels; taught and rehearsed some of the most famous Cleveland style polka artists; coached singing groups;…

Continue reading

Joe Macielag – Pioneer Category – Inducted 2018

Joseph Macielag began his musical career with clarinet lessons at the age of 14. Two years later, he was invited to join the Rydzewski Brothers Trio from Niagara Falls, NY. Influenced by Frank Wojnarowski, Joseph organized a nine-piece orchestra that played its first gig when he was only 18. By…

Continue reading

Richard Midura – Pioneer Category – Inducted 2016

Richard Midura was born on August 12, 1935, in Chicopee, Ma. Known as “the pioneer of polka clarinet improvisation” by his peers, he lent his smooth clarinet and saxophone mastery to the live performances and recordings of the most prominent eastern style polka bands of his day. Richard’s unique playing…

Continue reading

Florian Chmielewski – Pioneer Category – Inducted 2015

  Florian Chmielewski is the product of a family that has been synonymous with polka music for six generations. One of 15 children, he was born in Sturgeon Lake, MN on February 10, 1927. As he progressed from a dairy farmer, to County Commissioner, to Minnesota State Senator, Flo-rian always…

Continue reading

Alfred Vrazel – Pioneer Category – Inducted 2014

  Alfred Vrazel was born to parents of Moravian descent on September 6, 1940 on their family farm near Cameron, Texas.  His interest in music started early in life.  At the age of 10 he persuaded his parents into buying him a 2-row Hohner button accordion.  Three years later and…

Continue reading

Tony Petkovsek – Pioneer Category – Inducted 2013

  Tony Petkovsek was born August 21, 1941, in Cleveland, Ohio to parents of Slovenian descent. At age 20 he began what would become the longest running daily two hour polka program, self-produced with his own sponsors. That daily show aired six days a week from 1961 through 2011 and…

Continue reading

Don Peachey – Pioneer Category – 2011

    Don Peachey hails from Burnett, Wisconsin, a small town located an hour from Milwaukee. He began playing the accordion at the age of 14. Don made his first paying performance at the civic center in Fairwater, Wisconsin. Except for two years in the U.S. Army, he has been…

Continue reading

Ted Okrzesik – Pioneer Category – Inducted 2010

  Ted (Thaddeus) Okrzesik was born in Chicago on July 29, 1937, to Joseph Okrzesik and Emily Scieszka Okrzesik. Ted’s dad played the violin and both of his parents enjoyed polka music. His mother said Ted spoke fluent Polish in his early years. Ted was the youngest of three boys.…

Continue reading

John Demerski – Pioneer Category – Inducted 2007

  *Deceased in 2015* John Demerski is a life-long resident of Forestville, Connecticut. He attended Butler University, the University of Hartford, Central Connecticut State University and has a degree in Industrial Management.   John served in the U.S. Army Infantry and in the Connecticut Army National Guard. He was believed…

Continue reading

Adam Barthalt – Pioneer Category – Inducted 2006

    Adam Barthalt was born in Ridgewood, Queens, NY on June 11, 1935. Adams’s deep-rooted interest in music began unpretentiously at the age of three with a toy accordion he received from his grandparents while on a visit with his mother to Europe.   By the time Adam was…

Continue reading

Lou Trebar – Pioneer Category – Inducted 2004

    Lou Trebar authored one of the Cleveland-Style Polka’s most impressive careers. A true dean of Cleveland­-Style music, Lou’s credits included over sixty quality years of professional performances beginning at age 13; over forty years as a composer/arranger and adapter of Cleveland-Style music; leading his own orchestras from 1936-1950;…

Continue reading

Adolph Lesser – Pioneer Category – Inducted 2001

    Adolph Lesser’s colorful career as a musician and entertainer spanned some sixty-five years before his stroke in 1996.  Adolph remains one of the most prominent musical figures in the Rocky Mountain region and is affectionately known as the “Old Master”.   Born in Loveland, Colorado in 1915, Adolph…

Continue reading

Henry “Will” Wilczynski – Inducted 2000

  Henry “Will” Wilczynski has dedicated 53 years to music as an arranger, composer, teacher and musician. He has written and arranged for some of the greatest polka bands and shows of all time including: Jimmy Sturr (Jimmy’s 10 Grammy award recordings and Christmas shows), Myron Floren, Walt Solek, Dick…

Continue reading