Frankie Yankovic

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Frankie Yankovic

Yankovic in 1958
Background information
Born July 28, 1915(1915-07-28)
Davis, West Virginia, U.S.
Died October 14, 1998(1998-10-14) (aged 83)
New Port Richey, Florida, U.S.
Genres Slovenian-style polka
Instruments Accordion
Associated acts Frankie Yankovic and His Yanks

Frankie Yankovic (July 28, 1915 – October 14, 1998) was a polka musician from the United States. He played the accordion. He was called "America's Polka King." He played Slovenian-style polka.

Background[change | change source]

Yankovic was a Slovene. He was raised in South Euclid, Ohio. Yankovic's parents were immigrants. Yankovic received an accordion at age 9, but never took lessons. By his early teenage years, he was a working musician. He played for local events.[1]

Career[change | change source]

He began making appearances on the radio in the 1930s. He wanted to make recordings, but the major labels turned him down. Therefore, his first records were made for Yankee and Joliet, labels operated by Fred Wolf.[1]

Yankovic joined the U.S. Armed Forces in 1943. He made records while on leave, before going to Europe to fight in World War II. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He was awarded a Purple Heart.

Yankovic earned two platinum singles for "Just Because" (1947) and "Blue Skirt Waltz" (1949).

Yankovic also was on the television series Polka Time on Buffalo, New York-based WKBW-TV in 1962. He traveled from Cleveland to host each episode. He hosted a similar show in 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 Best Polka Recording category. The NARAS (Grammy) organization dropped the category in 2008.

Yankovic made over 200 recordings in his career. He has recorded with country guitarist Chet Atkins and pop singer Don Everly. He has also recorded a version of the “Too Fat Polka” with comedian Drew Carey.[source?] At one point, Yankovic was performing on the road in 325 shows a year.

He was not related to musical comedian and accordionist "Weird Al" Yankovic, who also performs polka music. However, Weird Al has jokingly said 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."[2]

Death[change | change source]

Yankovic died on October 14, 1998, in New Port Richey, Florida, from heart failure, at the age of 83. He was buried in Cleveland's Calvary Cemetery.[3] Hundreds of friends, family, fans, and fellow musicians were at his funeral.

Former band members[change | change source]

  • Adolph Poczatek (Pozatek) (1911–1984) Violin, tenor banjo, plectrum banjo, accordion, mandolin, cordiovox, guitar, piano. Toured and recorded with Frankie throughout his career. Appearances on Donahue and Lawrence Welk, and many live radio broadcasts. His original band was the Polka Aces, known in the Chicago Community. Adolph Poczatek also frequently appeared with polka bands including Verne Meisner, Roman Posedi, and Joe Kovich.
  • Georgie Cook - Banjo player, helped Yankovic establish the "Cleveland Sound".
  • Joey Miskulin - Began playing with Frankie Yankovic in 1962 at the age of 13. This was the start of a relationship that lasted for 35 years. Joey developed his skill with the accordion and music while touring with the band. Joey began writing and arranging songs for Yankovic. He eventually arranging and producing Frankie's albums, including the Grammy Award-winning album 70 Years of Hits.
  • Jeff Winard - Accomplished accordionist from Milwaukee; traveled with Yankovic in later years.
  • Marian "Lefty" Bell - played bass with Yankovic. His father was a tenor in the Slovenian operettas in Cleveland

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Greene, Victor (1992). A Passion for Polka. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 355. ISBN 0-520-07584-6 .
  2. "Permanent Record: Al In The Box". http://php.indiana.edu/~jbmorris/FAQ/al.booklet. Retrieved August 24, 2006.
  3. Vigil, Vicki Blum (2007). Cemeteries of Northeast Ohio: Stones, Symbols & Stories. Cleveland, OH: Gray & Company, Publishers. ISBN 978-1-59851-025-6

More reading[change | change source]

  • Dolgan, Bob (2006). America's Polka King: The Real Story of Frankie Yankovic. Cleveland, OH: Gray & Company, Publishers. ISBN 978-1-59851-026-3

Other websites[change | change source]