403 Ashwood Court
Greensburg, PA 15601
Top Left: The King is serenaded on his final road trip.
Middle Right: Wife Ida,
comforted by grandson
Matt Smodic, arrives at St. Mary Catholic Church.
Below: Ida singswith family members and friends.
Above: Fr. John Kumse, St. Mary pastor, incenses the casket during Mass.
Frankie Yankovic 1915-1998
FRANK YANKOVIC, "America's Polka King," is personally responsible for catapulting Slovenian Cleveland-Style Polkas from an obscure ethnic art form into national prominence as a mainstay of American musical culture.
Beginning his professional music career nearly sixty years ago, Frank began promoting Cleveland-Style Polkas nationally after World War II and, in the process of dedicating his life to this endeavor, has literally been "on the road" ever since.
Of course, Frank's greatest triumphs were his 2 million-seller hits, "Just Because" in 1948 followed shortly by the even-bigger "Blue Skirt Waltz." At that time, gold records were a rarity for any artist, let alone a purveyor of polkas. In recognition of the long and successful career that ensued, Frank received the first Grammy Award in the polka category in 1986.
In a lifetime of barnstorming and whistle-stops, Frank has appeared in major ballrooms throughout the United States performing side-by-side with the likes of Duke Ellington, Spike Jones, and Bob Hope. His travels have taken him from regular engagements on the West Coast/Nevada Circuit including Las Vegas, Reno, and Lake Tahoe, to remote auditoriums in the far reaches of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.
Frank's prolific recording career began on his own "Yankee" label before his rise to prominence. Later, in 1946, Frank signed with Columbia Records to commence what would turn out to be a twenty-seven year relationship followed by contracts with RCA and Polygram Records.
Likewise, Frank has established a proud
record of promoting Cleveland-Style Polkas on national television
appearing with David Frost, Fay Emerson, Patti Page, Kate Smith,
Arthur Godfrey, Jackie Gleason, Doris Day, Phil Donahue, Johnny
Carson, and Lawrence Welk.
Frank's very successful approach has been to make everyone comfortable with Cleveland-Style music by translating the original Slovenian lyrics to English and applying the traditional Anglo-European polka beat while retaining the beautiful Slovenian melodies as a base.
In deference to his Slovenian heritage
and constituency, however, Frank always performs at least one
polka in his native tongue. Over the years, the result has been
to share our beautiful ethnic heritage with literally millions of
happy folks who might otherwise have never had the opportunity.
In Frank's own words, "Polkas make you forget your troubles.. . it's the happiest music this side of heaven."
What else needs to be said ?
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