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IPA Hall of Fame Biography



Eddie Zavaski was born in January 31, 1924 in Rocky Hill, Connecticut, (8 miles South of Hartford) to Stanley & Pauline Zavaski.  While growing up as a child he was very much influenced by music.  Since he was first generation American born, his mother Pauline was instrumental in encouraging him to continue his Polish culture through the arts.  She encouraged him to take up an instrument too.  But, as a youngster, Eddie was an avid baseball player and as he grew so did his ability to the game.  He became so good in fact that Eddie played semi-professional baseball.  In March of 1943 he entered the armed service and represented his country in WWII.  He was honorably discharged in February of 1946.  After returning from Europe he began playing recreational softball in Connecticut.  Around 1949 he was “bitten” by the big band era bug.  Eddie began taking formal drum lessons and practiced hour after hour on the third floor of his mother Pauline’s home.  He was now married to his beloved wife Frances.


It was during this period when he developed a passion toward Polka music.  Eddie formed his own group and began taking bookings throughout Connecticut.  As a matter of fact, the Eddie Zavaski Orchestra for years was regularly featured at the Polish Nat’l Home in Hartford on Sunday evenings.  Another super feature for Eddie’s band was the “live” radio broadcast with Cousin Stan Ozimek from St. Joseph’s Polish Club in Colchester, Connecticut.  His band consisted of 8 musicians and in 1960 Eddie recorded a tune entitled, “the Cha-Cha Polka”.  This would become his signature tune and would place him on the map of notoriety.  He would then go on to record his very first long play album entitled, “Everybody Polka”.  He produced the album on the Bay record label.


In 1962 George Curtis of Eurotone Records in New York City contacted  Eddie about recording an album.  They worked out the details and added the talents of Teresa Zapolska to sing & write some of the tunes.  The album called “Polish Echoes” was released and with it a popular tune called “The Gorgeous Polka” emerged as a hit.  This would become Eddie’s theme song.  Two years later Eddie introduced his children Mary Ann and Eddie, Jr. to the public via a song named “Mommy and Daddy” waltz.  This tune along with others would serve to boost Eddie’s Polka music career.  He was now traveling along the Eastern seaboard and began playing major festivals and public dances.  Plus he recorded a Christmas tune entitled, “Ignatz the Polish Reindeer” which was hailed by fans near and far.  In 1967 Eddie Zavarski’s Orchestra was hired to play along side big band era orchestras such as Duke Ellington, Les Elgart, Tommy Dorsey, etc. at Pagani’s Crystal Ballroom in Elligton, Connecticut.  He would help expose Polka music fans who were not familiar with it.


The Eddie Zavaski Orchestra was now playing 3 to 4 times a week.  In 1969 he brought his son Eddie, Jr. to play accordion in the band.  Around 1970 his daughter Mary Ann was introduced as “Polka Doll” Mary Ann.  She added wonderful color and vocal talent to the band.  Eddie was now traveling more than ever.  He recorded another album on Eurotone records (Polka Happiness) and several 45 rpm recordings.


Eddie’s band was now gaining in popularity and getting consistent airplay of his music on the radio.  In 1970 he began appearing on television in Springfield, MA.  The show was “Polka” and it was produced weekly over channel 40.  Eddie Zavaski was often featured with his 5-piece group.


Around 1973 Eddie and Happy Louie worked out an arrangement so the band could record on Ha-Lo records.  This would prove to be a major stepping-stone for the orchestra.  The album release, “Polka Country USA” was distributed around the nation and catapulted Eddie’s band into the Polka Arena.  Tow years later he recorded “We Believe in Polkas” and that gained him national attention.


The Eddie Zavaski Orchestra, along with Polka Doll Mary Ann, was known for their good brand of music, variety of songs, and entertaining performances.  Everywhere they traveled people admired Eddie’s band along with his children.  As a matter of fact on Polka publication acknowledged them as a true “Polka Family”.


Eddie was also a Polka promoter.  He began running the Memorial Day Polka Spectacular in 1977.  Working in concert with Stretch Norton of Lake Compounce Amusement Park in Bristol, Connecticut.  Eddie developed the Polka weekend concept in Central CT bringing national Polka bands to the area.  Additionally, Eddie worked with the Norton Family in developing regular summer Saturday evening Polka dances with name Polka bands.


Eddie Zavarski continued to entertain, travel, and cruise with his Polka band music through 1979.  So many places and so many wonderful people.  This Polka music was something special to Eddie; it brought him much happiness and joy to entertain people.  He was so very proud to promote his band and his music.  It was decided jointly with his family that he would retire from the music business in 1980.  Little did we know that nine years later he would pass on to Polka heaven.