|Birth name||Frank John Yankovic|
|Born||July 28, 1915|
Davis, West Virginia, U.S.
|Died||October 14, 1998 83) (aged|
New Port Richey, Florida, U.S.
|Associated acts||Frankie Yankovic and His Yanks|
Frank John Yankovic (July 28, 1915 – October 14, 1998) was an American accordion player and polka musician. Known as "America's Polka King," Yankovic was considered the premier artist to play in the Slovenian style during his long career. He was not related to fellow accordionist and song parodist "Weird Al" Yankovic, although the two collaborated.
Born to Slovene immigrant parents, Yankovic was raised in the Collinwood neighborhood on Cleveland's East Side.He released over 200 recordings in his career. In 1986, he was awarded the first-ever Grammy in the Best Polka Recording category. He rarely strayed from Slovenian-style polka, but did record with country guitarist Chet Atkins and pop singer Don Everly. He also recorded a version of the "Too Fat Polka" with comedian Drew Carey.
Yankovic's father, a blacksmith, and his mother, a cook, met in a lumber camp in West Virginia where they both worked. When Yankovic was young, his father moved to Cleveland to escape authorities who learned of his bootlegging, and the rest of the family followed shortly thereafter. While living in Cleveland, he became enthralled by the brass bands that played at Slovenian social functions. His mother took on boarders to help with the family finances, including a man named Max Zelodec who performed Slovenian tunes on a button box. Yankovic acquired an accordion at age 9, and received a few lessons from Zelodec. By the late 1920s, in his early teenage years, he was a working musician, playing for community events.In the 1930s, he formed a business relationship with Joe Trolli and began making radio appearances on stations such as WJAY and WGAR. As his reputation spread, he sought opportunities to make records, but the major labels turned him down. His first records were made for the Yankee and Joliet labels operated by Fred Wolf, and the expenses were paid for by Yankovic himself.
In 1940, he married his first wife June, and they began to raise a family. However, the expenses of family life quickly overcame the incoming money from his music career, so he opened a tavern, calling it the Yankovic Bar. It became a popular hangout for local musicians, and he continued to run it until he sold it in 1948, dedicating himself to the accordion.
Yankovic enlisted in the armed forces in 1943 and cut numerous records while on leave, prior to his departure for Europe. Yankovic was assigned duty in 1943 in the infantry as a flame-thrower operator.He fought in the Battle of the Bulge where a severe case of frostbite nearly required the amputation of his hands and feet. Fortunately, he was able to beat the resulting gangrene before that became necessary, and was awarded a Purple Heart. The doctors urged him to have his fingers amputated, but he refused, as that would have ended his music career. After getting out of the hospital, he and four other musicians were assigned to special services to entertain the troops, including General George Patton and his Third United States Army.
Yankovic hit the national scene when he earned two platinum singles for "Just Because" (1947) and "Blue Skirt Waltz" (1949). Others who recorded the Blue Skirt Waltz were the Tunemixers and Guy Lombardo both in 1949, Lawrence Welk (Myron Floren) in 1958, Jim Ed Brown and the Browns in 1960, Hank Thompson in 1962, and Bobby Vinton in 1976. Yankovic found a Bohemian Waltz called "Cervenou Sukynku," (written by Vaclav Blaha) or loosely translated, "Red Skirt Waltz." Yankovic asked Mitchell Parrish ("Stardust", "Sleighride") to write new lyrics to the melody. Parrish changed "red" to "blue". Yankovic sold over 2.5 million records and with the Tunemixers version and Guy Lombardo's version, it sold over 4 million records total in 1949. It was the second Cleveland-style song to sell over one million recordings.
Columbia Records initially refused to record "Just Because", because other versions of the song had been around for years without much success; only allowing it when Yankovic said that he would buy the first 10,000 records.Yankovic obtained the title of America's Polka King after beating Louis Bashell, Romy Gosz, Harold Loeffelmacher and the Six Fat Dutchmen, Whoopee John Wilfahrt, and Lawrence Duchow in a battle of the bands in Milwaukee at the Milwaukee Arena on June 9, 1948.
In 1970, a house fire destroyed the gold records for "Just Because" and "Blue Skirt Waltz".
Yankovic also hosted the television series Polka Time for Buffalo, New York-based WKBW-TV for 26 weeks in 1962. He commuted from Cleveland to host each episode, which aired live. He also hosted a similar show at WGN-TV Chicago at about the same time.
He won a Grammy Award in 1986 for his album 70 Years of Hits . He was the first winner in the Polka category. The NARAS (Grammy) organization dropped the category in 2008.
He performed with musical comedian and fellow accordionist "Weird Al" Yankovic, although the two are not related.Al, who also performs polka music among many other styles, has jokingly hypothesized that he was given accordion lessons as a child because his parents thought that "there should be at least one more accordion-playing Yankovic in the world." Al performed accordion on "Who Stole the Kishka?" on one of Frankie's final records, Songs of the Polka King, Vol. 1. A portion of Frankie's "The Tick Tock Polka" is included in the song "Polka Face" on Weird Al's Alpocalypse ; it was used as a lead-in for Weird Al's take on "Tik Tok" by Ke$ha.
Yankovic died on October 14, 1998, in New Port Richey, Florida, from heart failure, at the age of 83. He is buried in Cleveland's Calvary Cemetery.Hundreds of friends, family, his loyal fans and fellow musicians attended his memorial service. At his peak, Yankovic traveled extensively and performed 325 shows a year. He sold 30 million records during his lifetime.
In Bob Dolgan's 2006 biography of Yankovic, Frankie's longtime drummer Dave Wolnik observed that "Yankovic didn't have a street named for him in his own hometown". This launched a campaign by the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum and City Councilman Michael Polensek,and in a ceremony on August 21, 2007, the square at the intersection of Waterloo Rd. and East 152nd St. in Cleveland ( ), not far from where Yankovic grew up, was named in his honor.
The polka is originally a Czech dance and genre of dance music familiar throughout all of Europe and the Americas. It originated in the middle of the nineteenth century in Bohemia, now part of the Czech Republic. The polka remains a popular folk music genre in many European and American countries, and is performed by many folk artists.
Alapalooza is the eighth studio album by "Weird Al" Yankovic, released in 1993. By the completion of his previous album, Off the Deep End, Yankovic had already written all of the original songs that he planned to use on his next release. This new album, which would eventually be titled Alapalooza in reference to the music festival Lollapalooza, consisted of seven original songs and five parodies. It produced three parody singles: "Jurassic Park", "Bedrock Anthem", and "Achy Breaky Song". "Jurassic Park" was a top five hit on the Canadian magazine The Record's single chart.
Even Worse is the fifth studio album by "Weird Al" Yankovic, released on April 12, 1988. The album was produced by former The McCoys guitarist Rick Derringer. Recorded between November 1987 and February 1988, this album helped to revitalize Yankovic's career after the critical and commercial failure of his previous album Polka Party! (1986).
"Weird Al" Yankovic in 3-D is the second studio album by American singer-songwriter "Weird Al" Yankovic, released on February 28, 1984, by Rock 'n Roll Records. The album was one of many produced by former The McCoys guitarist Rick Derringer. Recorded between October and December 1983, the album was Yankovic's follow-up to his modestly successful debut LP, "Weird Al" Yankovic.
Polka Party! is the fourth studio album by "Weird Al" Yankovic, released on October 21, 1986. The album was produced by former The McCoys guitarist Rick Derringer. Recorded between April and September 1986, the album was Yankovic's follow-up to his successful 1985 release, Dare to Be Stupid. The album's lead single was "Living With a Hernia", although it was not a hit and did not chart.
Ladislav John "Walter" Ostanek, CM is a Canadian musician. He is known as "Canada's Polka King." He has received twenty-one nominations for Grammy Awards and won three.
Slovenian-style polka is an American style of polka in the Slovenian tradition. It is usually associated with Cleveland and other Midwestern cities.
Polka is a music and dance style that originated in Europe in the 1830s and came to American society when people immigrated from Eastern Europe. A fast style in 2/4 time, and often associated with the pre–World War II era, polka remains a dynamic "niche" music in America.
Joseph M. Miskulin is an American accordionist and producer. In a music career spanning more than four decades, Joey Miskulin has collaborated with a range of artists including Johnny Cash, Paul McCartney, John Denver, Ricky Skaggs, Andy Williams, Ricky Van Shelton, Emmylou Harris, Frankie Yankovic, and many others. He is a performer, studio musician, producer and pedagogue.
Alfred Matthew "Weird Al" Yankovic is an American singer, musician, record producer, and actor who is known for humorous songs that make light of pop culture and often parody specific songs by contemporary musical acts. He also performs original songs that are style pastiches of the work of other acts, as well as polka medleys of several popular songs, most of which feature his trademark accordion.
Tom Brusky is a Slovenian-style polka musician and bandleader from Milwaukee, Wisconsin who also produces and records music through his company, Polkasound Productions. Brusky has appeared on over sixty recordings worldwide along with artists such as Verne and Steve Meisner, Eric Noltkamper, Kathy Zamejc Vogt, Jeff Winard, and Frankie Yankovic. He performs roughly 150 events a year throughout Southeastern Wisconsin and abroad.
Louis Bashell was an American polka musician from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was known for playing the Slovenian-style polka. He was nicknamed "Milwaukee's polka king".
LaVerne Donald "Verne" Meisner was an American polka musician born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and raised in Whitewater, Wisconsin. He was inducted into five halls of fame, including the International Polka Association Hall of Fame as a "Living Legend" in 1989. He is best known for the songs "Memories of Vienna" and "El Rio Drive."
Roman 'Romy' Louis Gosz was a popular and commercially successful polka musician in the upper Midwest. Gosz's music featured the Bohemian brass style and appealed to the many ethnic groups found throughout the region.
Squeeze Box: The Complete Works of "Weird Al" Yankovic is a 15-album box set by American comedy musician "Weird Al" Yankovic, released on November 24, 2017.
Yankovic was assigned duty in 1943 in the infantry as a flame-thrower operator.