Frankie Yankovic, polka king


In his youth Frankie Yankovic moved from nearby South Euclid to Cleveland, Ohio, the capital of one of the two main branches of the American polka tradition, known as Cleveland-Slovenian. There he became proficient in accordion playing, and eventually established his own band, the Slovene Folk Orchestra.

After World War II, with the Yanks, he scored a crossover sensation with Just because, and for a while it seemed that his dream that “polkas should…be as popular as rumbas” could be realized. In spite of several “official” retirements, Yankovic continued to perform into his 80s.

This according to “Frank Yankovic, long reigning polka king, is dead at 83” by Ben Ratliff (The New York times CXLVIII/51,311 [15 October 1998] p. B:12).

Today would have been Yankovic’s 100th birthday! Below, Frankie Yankovic and his Yanks in 1985.

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