AN INTERVIEW WITH EDDIE BLAZONCZYK, SR. – ONE OF IPA’S FOUNDERS, TRUSTEES & HALL OF FAMERS
IPA INTERVIEW — NOVEMBER 2010
by Christy Krawisz, Editor of the IPA Newsletter
Reprinted from the IPA Newsletter with the Editor’s Permission
I thought members of the I.P.A. would enjoy an interview with everyone’s favorite musician, Eddie Blazonczyk, Sr. We all miss him performing on stage and singing all of our favorite songs, the way only Eddie Sr. could sing them. I know a lot of us wish we would have treasured the moments he was performing on stage more. I know I do!
Below are a few questions I thought his polka fans and friends would be interested in knowing about. I hope you enjoy this. I did.
Eddie, Sr., has been married to Christine (Tish) for 46 years and they have three children — Kathy, Eddie, Jr., and Tony. They have three grandchildren — Cayle, Anya and Anthony. Tish and Eddie own Bel-Aire Enterprises located in Bridgeview, Illinois. They have been in business for 46 years now. Bel-Aire opened up as a music school in September of 1964 on 47th Street in Chicago. They relocated to Bridgeview, Illinois, in 1984. If you are interested in purchasing any Bel-Aire or Ampol products, you can view their selection at http://www.belairerecords.com.
IPA: At what age did you start playing instruments and what were they?
Eddie: I started playing at the age of 12. It was at my Mom’s suggestion that I start taking accordion lessons. I played a 12 Bass Accordion. At age 14, I was playing a 120 Bass Accordion.
IPA: You wrote a lot of songs. What was your inspiration?
Eddie: Living life as I felt it should be lived — the right way, was always my inspiration.
IPA: Of all the songs you wrote, which one is your favorite?
Eddie: In my Rock ‘n Roll Days — my favorite song I wrote is “Johnnie Be Goode is in Hollywood.” In my Polka Days — my favorite song is “Angeline Be Mine,” written for my mother-in-law, and “Polka Celebration,” which we won the Grammy for, and about 400 other songs. Tough question, you asking me about my favorite song. I really like all the songs I wrote. I really loved writing them.
IPA: Who did you admire musically?
Eddie: In my Rock ‘n Roll Days I loved the blend of harmonies that Buddy Holly and the Crickets had, and I was a big fan of the Everly Brothers. Early on in polkas I loved Li’l Wally and Marion Lush. As far as Honky Style music, I enjoyed the Original Ampol Aires, Polka Dot Five and Eddie Zima.
IPA: What made you change from playing Rock ‘n Roll music to Polka Music?
Eddie: It wasn’t what made me, it was who made me. My Mom. Her inspiration and love for polka music made me want to change my fields.
IPA: What was your most memorable job on stage? What year? What town? And Why?
Eddie: I can’t really pick a most memorable job. My favorite town to play in is Chicago — my hometown. I can tell you some memorable events in my life. Back in my Rock ‘n Roll days I appeared on American Band Stand — very cherished memory. Early in my Polka days I was elected into the IPA Polka Hall of Fame — one of the proudest moments of my life. Winning the Grammy in 1986 and receiving the National Endowment Award at the White House from First Lady Hillary Clinton for preserving Polish Heritage Music are also on my top ten list of Memorable Moments.
IPA: What is the biggest job you ever played? How many people do you think were there?
Eddie: Definitely the Seven Springs Resort in Champion, Pennsylvania. There were years back in the day, that 5,000 people were there. The energy and joy in that convention hall cannot be put into words.
IPA: If you could go back in time, what would you change?
Eddie: I don’t know about changes, but if I could go back in time, I’d go back to the 1950s and 1960s. Those were good times.
IPA: How do you think we can keep the music we all love so much, going for years to come?
Eddie: I would say we need more TV and radio exposure for polka music. We need attendance to grow at the dances, polka weekends and festivals, and not dwindle as it appears to be doing.
IPA: What do you miss most about not playing anymore?
Eddie: The people. I miss seeing the happy, smiling fans all over the place. Everywhere — I miss everyone.
Earlier you asked who I admired musically — I want to mention I also like Slovenian, Bavarian and German style music. I am a fan of Mexican music, Rhythm and Blues, and Country music too.
I enjoy the sound of a concertina, over an accordion, and I always planned on a tight rhythm section (drums, accordion, concertina & piano). I always told my guys to put 100% of their heart and soul in the music when we got on a stage, and keep it simple, don’t try to be fancy. Simplicity worked for me.
I enjoyed playing drums both in my Rock N Roll band, and Honky Style with my polka band. And the fans seem to like when I played Honky drums too.
I have one regret — I always wanted to record a CD with a full string section behind me. I enjoy watching full string sections on TV when I see them now. PBS or WTTW programs.
I thank the IPA for this interview. I’m doing fine. Hello to all my friends and fans who are reading this. I miss you!
[Eddie Blazonczyk died on May 21, 2012.]