Frankie Yankovic

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Frankie Yankovic

Post by Wildcat445 on Sat Oct 25, 2014 10:28 pm

My wife is mostly Polish, so she was raised with Frankie Yankovic music.  Frankie Yankovic, 1915-1998 had a polka band, Frankie Yankovic and the Yanks, and was the premier polka artist of his time.  The record I recently processed "Frankie Yankovic Plays Himself" , on Columbia, mono, from 1960 belonged to my mother-in-law.  She played it on her Magnavox Regency for years and it is still in really good condition.  She would have her record player "looked at" whenever the TV man came to fix her set, which was usually "on the blink".  Doing this allowed her to maintain good needles in her Magnavox and this made her records last longer.

Frankie Yankovic was the child of a moonshiner father and a camp cook mother, who took in boarders to make ends meet.  One of these boarders taught Frankie to play the squeezebox, and, by the time he was a young teenager, he was playing professionally.  He eventually played with artists like Chet Atkins, and actually recorded the "Too Fat Polka" with Drew Carey, (yeah, THAT Drew Carey, of "The Price is Right"), an accordion player of considerable talent himself.  I have an RCA record "Frankie Yankovic and Friends" featuring "Cowboy" Jack Clements, a country music writer and singer of some repute, best known as a producer on "Gunsmoke", Chet Atkins, who makes a rare singing appearance, Riders In The Sky, Freddie Fender, and the "Too Fat Polka" with Drew Carey.  How this got on RCA is anybody's guess, but I'd bet that Chet Atkins had a hand in it.  I have a Lawrence Welk show on tape from about 1959 with Frankie Yankovic, Lawrence Welk, JoAnn Castle and Myron Floren playing the Pennsylvania Polka.  Frankie usually sang on his recordings.  His voice was gravelly with practically no range whatsoever, but that was part of what made him unique.  I have no idea who the individual was, but he had one of the best banjo players of any polka band.



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