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IPA Hall of Fame Biography
Stan Wolowic was a renowned accordionist and band leader and teacher for over 65 years. He and his band produced numerous albums promoting Polkas and Polish and ethnic music over his decades-long career. I have included numerous items herein, including copies of the fronts and backs of covers of 5 of his most popular albums with Capitol Records and ABC Paramount. The backs of the albums tell the story of his musical prowess during those years. A google search will reveal that his music is still widely available for sale on iTunes and Amazon music and YouTube.
Stan Wolowic was born on the south side of Chicago in 1920 and passed away in 2001. He fell in love with the accordion and started playing at the age of nine. By the age of 11 he was playing at Polish weddings and community celebrations. By the age of 15 he was playing professionally at clubs around Chicago.
After finishing high school and enlisting in the Navy during WWII, where he performed for officers' functions, he played with a variety of radio and early tv shows, finally forming the band Stan Wolowic and The Polka Chips in the 1950s.
Stan Wolowic and The Polka Chips became the stars of the first nationally televised Polka/Polish music tv show in 1956, It's Polka Time, on ABC. As Capitol Records described the phenomenon on his album cover, the Greatest Band In Polka Land:
"Where is Polka Land? On a recent 13-week tour, the Chicago-based Polka Chips found that Polka Land can be any place where people gather to dance, to sing, to have a good time. The found a bit of Polka land in Swisher, Iowa, a town of a little over 100 inhabitants, where they drew an audience of 600 people one night. They found Polka Land in Brooklyn, where the Mayor and his wife came down to listen to their happy sounds, and where the Voice of America taped a part of their show for re-broadcast over Radio Free Europe. They found that even sophisticated Manhattan is a part of Polka Land: the Polka Chips played to a capacity crowd at the Roseland Ballroom there. Throughout the country, from Massachusetts to Minnesota, from Ohio to Canada, wherever the Polka Chips went, suburbs of Polka Land began springing up. Just what makes this group "the greatest"? A lot of things, actually... Stan Wolowic, leader of the group, played his first professional engagement when he was only 15, and now he is one of the country's most accomplished accordionists. There is something about the `drive' and feeling he puts into his playing that turns his listeners into fans and his fans into devoted followers."
Over the years, Stan Wolowic received countless awards and commendations, keys to cities, etc. Two of his favorites were from the Folk Dance Federation of California and another from the Polish National Alliance, proclaiming:
"Whereas, Stan Wolowic has taken the leadership in bringing polka music to the forefront in the nation and ...rendered an unforgettable service to lovers of Polka Music ... it is resolved that the Polish National Alliance and the All Nations Polka and Folk Dance Committee expresses in this way congratulations to Stan Wolowic and his Polka Chips to popularize polka music in the United States of America."
I have included photocopies of these awards.
Even though he was an extremely busy musician, Stan Wolowic still found time to work with students, to teach them that playing a Polka was more than just notes on a page. A Polka had to come from your soul. Over and over he could be heard saying, "If you're not smiling you're not playing a Polka. Polkas make people SMILE."
Stan Wolowic continued to promote Polkas and Polish music until the day he retired in the early 1990s. I have included herein a picture from the book "Ohio. A Picture Book To Remember Her By" showing Stan Wolowic performing for the Oktoberfest in Columbus, Ohio around 1980, to partially verify the longevity of his career. He performed at the Oktoberfest every year until he moved to California in 1990.
After he retired, Stan Wolowic continued to perform for local seniors' organizations, fundraisers for local causes, church and community dances, etc. He loved people and he loved performing, and audiences loved him right back!
Even after his death, his legacy and love for Polish music continued. He had a wealth of his musical arrangements of Polish music. These and other documents were donated to the University of Southern California Polish Music Center after his death. https://polishmusic.usc.edu/newsletter/2002/july-2002/
"April 2001: Stanley Wolowic arrangements donated by his daughter Jill Wolowic Comras, Canyon Lake, CA Stanley Wolowic was an accordionist and band leader in 1950s and 1960s. One box contains his arrangements (parts), the Capitol record "Stan Wolowic and the Polka Chips play The Million Seller Polkas", and tape with his music as well as scores with popular music composed by: Frank Wojnarowski, Frank Przybylski, Walter Dana and by foreign composers published in the years 1927-1949."
Stan Wolowic loved his Polish heritage and spent his lifetime promoting the joy that Polish music and Polkas brought to the world. You can see it in every single one of his pictures. I hope you will consider his talent, his achievements, and his lifetime devotion to his craft enough to honor him by including him in the Polka Music Hall of Fame.