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Yankovic in 1958
July 28, 1915|
Davis, West Virginia, U.S.
October 14, 1998 (aged 83)|
New Port Richey, Florida, U.S.
|Associated acts||Frankie Yankovic and His Yanks|
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.
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.
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."
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. Hundreds of friends, family, fans, and fellow musicians were at his funeral.
Former band members
- 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
- Greene, Victor (1992). A Passion for Polka. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 355. .
- "Permanent Record: Al In The Box". http://php.indiana.edu/~jbmorris/FAQ/al.booklet. Retrieved August 24, 2006.
- Vigil, Vicki Blum (2007). Cemeteries of Northeast Ohio: Stones, Symbols & Stories. Cleveland, OH: Gray & Company, Publishers. ISBN 978-1-59851-025-6
- Dolgan, Bob (2006). America's Polka King: The Real Story of Frankie Yankovic. Cleveland, OH: Gray & Company, Publishers. ISBN 978-1-59851-026-3
- Sample text from the book America's Polka King by Bob Dolgan
- Polkas.com: Frank Yankovic...America's Polka King
- Biography on ElvisPelvis.com
- Dennis Kucinich's letter to Clinton in support of awarding Yankovic a National Medal of Arts
- Profile of Frank Yankovic at The Remington Site
- New York Times article on Yankovic's death