Lawrence Welk

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Strasburg, North Dakota
Birth Sign

Lawrence Welk was an accordionist and bandleader from the United States. He started playing accordion at the age of 13 and later created two bands, ‘The Biggest Little Bands in America’ and ‘The Hotsy-Totsy Boys.’ His long-running television show, ‘The Lawrence Welk Show,’ was a hit at the time and is still popular in reruns. His 1065-episode show featured a musical ensemble of some incredible artists that he referred to as his “Musical Family.” He was very perceptive of his audience’s desires and never failed to provide them with a diverse array of melodies intertwined in various ways. Throughout it all, he never forgot about his first love, ‘Jazz.’ In terms of the quality of his show, he was a severe disciplinarian. He objected to comedians appearing on the show and turned down sponsorship from alcohol and tobacco firms. As a recording artist, he was extremely successful. Even after his death, repeats of his show demonstrate its enduring popularity. Apart from that, he was a successful businessman with real estate and music publishing businesses, as well as a fixture on several celebrity golf tournament programs.

Childhood and Adolescence

He was born in Strasburg, North Dakota, a small German village. His parents had fled the conflict in Alsace-Lorraine by immigrating to America in 1892. They resided in a homestead in North Dakota that is now a tourist attraction.

In his early adolescent years, he learned to play polka music on his father’s accordion and began performing at local music events. He persuaded his father to buy him his own accordion after four years and told his father that he would work on the family farm until he was 21 to reimburse the cost of the accordion.
He graduated from Minneapolis, Minnesota’s MacPhail Centre for Music in 1927.


His career began when he was 21 and began playing in various polka-style bands throughout the area. He quickly organized his own quintet, dubbed “The Lawrence Welk Novelty Orchestra.” His band was also the Station Band for Yankton, South Dakota’s prominent radio station WNAX.

The band’s name has changed several times, including ‘The Hotsy-Totsy Boys,’ ‘The Honolulu Fruit Gum Orchestra,’ and ‘The Biggest Little Band in America.’
He recorded a fantastic ragtime song for Indiana-based ‘Gennett Records in November 1928. He recorded four sides, with one of them being rejected.

He relocated the ensemble to Omaha in 1937, where they honed their skills in dance melodies and sweet music. The band drove around the country since they couldn’t afford to pay for expensive travel and lodging.
A fan compared their bright, rhythmic, and bubbly music to champagne during a concert at the William Penn Hotel in Pittsburg in 1938, earning the band the moniker “champagne music.”

In 1940, he rented his band at Chicago’s Trianon ballroom, which proved to be a major success, drawing large crowds on a regular basis. As a result, he relocated his family to Chicago and spent the next ten years there. He recorded for Mercury and Coral after signing with ‘Decca’.

Meanwhile, his orchestra performed at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City, and after five years, he teamed up with Western musician Red Foley to record a cover of Spade Cooley’s “Shame on You,” which made Billboard’s “Most Played Jukebox Folk Records” list on September 15.

From 1949 to 1951, the band had its own national radio show on ABC, which was sponsored by Miller High Life, dubbed “The Champagne of Bottle Beer.”

He appeared on a late-night television show in Los Angeles in 1951. Its popularity prompted him to relocate to Los Angeles the following year, where he produced ‘The Lawrence Welk Show’ on the KTLA television station. This show made its national premiere on ABC in 1955 as a midseason replacement and quickly gained a significant fan base.

His Major Projects

He recorded eight sides for Paramount Records in 1931, which were released to the Broadway and Lyric labels. These documents are today highly rare and precious.

In 1966, he made an album with Johnny Hodges, an American alto saxophonist, on the ‘Ranwood Records label, releasing a variety of jazz standards such as ‘Someone to watch over me,’ ‘Misty,’ and ‘Fantastic, that’s you.’ The record is well-regarded, although it has been out of print for a long time.

His famous show, ‘The Lawrence Welk Show,’ featured well-known performers such as accordionist conductor Myron Floren, ragtime pianist Joe Ann Castle, singing group ‘The Lennon Sisters,’ Dixieland clarinetist Pete Fountain, Irish style singer Joe Feeney, tap dancer Arthur Duncan, dancer Bobby Burgess, and a featured female singer dubbed ‘The Champagne Lady.’

He had a number of instrumental hits under his belt, including a cover of the Norman Luboff choir’s song “Yellow Bird,” which was released in 1957. In 1961, he launched his chart-topping single “Calcutta,” which became an instant hit. It was done in only one take. Between the 13th and the 26th of February, it topped the US pop charts, and the album reached all heights of grandeur.

Achievements and Awards

He was inducted as a charter member of the ‘Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Award’ from North Dakota in 1961.
For his significant contribution to the advancement and promotion of Polka music, he was inducted into the International Polka Music Hall of Fame in 1994.
He has a star on the ‘Hollywood Walk of Fame’ on Hollywood Boulevard for recording and another on Vine Street for television.

Personal History and Legacy

He was married to Fern Renner, with whom he had three children. He also has a large number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
His band continues to perform in the Branson, Missouri theater. Furthermore, the TV show has been repackaged for PBS broadcasting. Oklahoma Educational Television Authority owns the production rights.

He established a resort town in California called ‘The Welk Group,’ which is available to the public. It has television rights and record labels, as well as a theatre company that performs live Broadway musicals all year.

Every year, the ‘Live Lauren Welk show’ takes stars from the television series on concert tours across the United States and Canada.
‘Wunnerful Wunnerful!’ (1971) and ‘Ah-one Ah-two!’ (1972) were the titles of two of his memoirs (1974).

Estimated Net worth

Lawrence Welk was an American musician, bandleader, and television personality who died in 1992 with a net worth of $150 million. In today’s money, that equates to about $277 million.