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IPA Hall of Fame Biography
Richard Drongoski was born in Clifton, New Jersey to John and Val Drongoski in 1958. He does have an older sister and brother. Richard's sister lives in Florida near Richard and his parents. His one brother still remains in the state of New Jersey.
At the young age of three the Drongoski's knew that Richard would lead a life centered around polka music. At this very young age Richard wanted and did receive an accordion. He always loved it when his father played the accordion and his grandmother sang songs in Polish. A little later in life his mother taught him to read Polish. He new reads and speaks Polish very fluently. At the age of eight he began taking his first professional accordion lessons from professor Andrew Trechak in the state of New Jersey. This would lead to much bigger and better things for Richard Drongeski in life. Everything really started to take off on Labor Day weekend in 1968 at the tender age of ten. This would be Richard Drongoski's first public performance playing accordion and singing with "The Worlds Polka King" "Lil Wally". This first public performance had a wonderful group of 1,200 polka followers. Following this event Richard Drongoski was the first person to bring Chicago style polka music to the east coast of the United States. In the summer of 1969 Richard Drongoski and his parents would take a trip to Chicago. Now this was a huge deal. This is where Richard Drongoski's parents would purchase Richard his first concertina. That would not be all the excitement on that trip to Chicago. Also on that trip Richard would have the honor of meeting concertina legend Casey "Fingers" Siewierski. Casey "Fingers" Siewierski took Richard under his wing at this point giving him many wonderful concertina pointers to help Richard on his way to playing a lot of wonderful concertina music. In an interview Richard said Casey "Fingers" Siewierski is my idle and he is forever grateful to him for his inspiration to be able to de what he does today. Richard also met one other person in Chicago that has meant a let to him. That person is Eddie Blazonczyk Sr. The following year Richard would get his first custom made Star Concertina. Richard would perform in many places across the United States in the next decade to come. The year 1980 came and Richard toured with Marion Lush and his orchestra for the next several months.
That same year Richard started his very own record label, the "Star Note" label. Richard released several albums on that label. Those albums are "Play That Concertina", "Concertina Happiness", "Reckin Oldies", "Sparkling Hits", "Polish/American Polka Mass" (Richard is very proud of this album in which he composed all original lyrics.), "Love That Concertina", "Just For You", and "Concertina Marathon". The following recordings are on the same "Star Note" label on CD: "Concertina Double Header", "Sparkling Hits" (This recording is a tribute to Richard's friend Liberace.) "Just For You", "Concertina Marathon" and the latest recording "1 Love To Polka". "Polka Richie Classics" was recorded on the Sunshine Record label. "1 Love To Polka", "New Polkas & Waltzes" and "15 Polka & Waltzes" with Lil Wally's band were originally recorded on Rola Records with the help of John Demerski in Connecticut. The first album "1 Love To Polka" has all original songs written by Casey "Fingers" Siewierski. On that album Richard was backed up by "The New Brass Orchestra". Richard now composes most of his recordings himself.
As well as all the recordings that you have just read about, Richard has appeared on stage with many people including Bobby Vinton, Marie Osmond, The Lettermen and the one and only Liberace. Richard has also been awarded with numerous awards as well. He was awarded #1 song "Play That Concertina", # 3 song "Ann's Polka" plus #1 male vocalist by Mr. Polkabration Dick Pillar. Other credits to Richard's name include radio and T.V. broadcasts, as well as appearances throughout the country including Hawaii and on various cruise ships, plus five trips to Poland, and was named citizen of the year in 1985 by Long Island newspaper, Polish American World. Beginning in September 1983 Richard ran the only polka weekend in Lake George, New York. This polka weekend was held at the Roaring Brook Resort. This was the largest resort in the area. This great polka weekend would run for the next ten years. In 1986 the first Polka Blast was held in Albany, New York. This polka weekend would be held for the next 13 years with top polka stars entertaining at this weekend such as Lil Wally, Marion Lush and the Ampol - Aires just to name a few.
Richard now calls Ft. Lauderdale, FL home. But as you read above Richard originally lived in Clifton, New Jersey. While living in the city of Clifton, Richard had a fan club. That fan club had from 500 - 700 members. Richard is very grateful to the following people from the fan club in Clifton, New Jersey. Board officers Lou and Helen Banasiak, Mary Paczkowski for all of her hard work and the original vice president Polka Annie Martin who still loves Richard's concertina. The Jersey Polka Richie Fan Club was a non - profit organization dedicated to the promotion of Jersey Polka Richie and raising funds for worthy causes. During the time that the fan club was going strong Richard received a ring that was presented to him by Liberace when he performed at his Las Vegas birthday party. Unfortunately this ring was stolen. In 1989 Richard received two great honors. In May of that year he was given the title "Michigan's Concertina King" by Michigan promoter - bandleader Big Daddy Lackowski. In September of that same year a huge honor was given to Richard. He was crowned "America's Concertina King" by Syracuse, New York promoter -disc jockey Ted Michalski on behalf of all his fans in all the states and especially the Syracuse, New York area. Going on with yet more honors, "America's Concertina King" Jersey Polka Richie has also been recognized by his holiness Pope John Paul II. Jersey Polka Richie was given this honor for raising over $2,000.00 for his Dom Polski, a Polish Pilgrims Home and Papal Museum in Rome. He was also given special recognition from Poland for raising over $10,000.00 for the Polish Mother's Hospital and Richard was also given a bronze heart from the Polish Childrens' Heart - Line for his fund raising efforts in their behalf. The Jersey Polka Richie fan club also raised funds for the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island restoration.
As well as having the concertina and polka music in his heart, "America's Concertina King" Jersey Polka Richie also has the love of the Lord Jesus Christ in his heart. He is a member of Our Lady of Czestochowa; a Polish Roman Catholic Church in Florida. "America's Concertina King" Jersey Polka Richie has always and continues to this day to devote his entire life to polka music and the playing of the concertina. This being a full time job, he is also involved with the South West Florida Polka Boosters and the Polish/ American Club of Vero Beach, Florida. "America's Concertina King "Jersey Polka Richie, plays his music at both of these places. He is also involved with the International Polka Association. He leads the life of a wonderful musician, going ail over the United States and beyond playing his wonderful happy, snappy music for everyone to hear and dance to. He will always be surrounded by his music, and bring joy to the hearts and smiles to the faces of everyone that will go to hear and see "America's Concertina King" Jersey Polka Richie perform. So if you know that "America's Concertina King" Jersey Polka Richie is going to be performing in your area, go out to see him. At his live performances, Richie always gets his audiences' attention with his glittering costumes, dazzling jewelry, happy smile, and wonderful personality. !f you ever get a chance to see Jersey Polka Richie perform, it will be an experience that you will never forget.