Lawrence Welk

Lawrence Welk (March 11, 1903—May 17, 1992) was a musician, accordion player, band leader, and television impresario. He was born in Strasburg, North Dakota to Russian German parents.

His music was conservative, concentrating mostly on pop song standards, polkas, and novelty songs, delivered in a smooth, calming, good-humored easy listening style. His show was warm and family-oriented. His "Champagne Music" has been considered the epitome of "square".

In the 1920s Welk lead a big band played engagments in eastern South Dakota area. His band was the station band for popular radio station WNAX in Yankton, South Dakota. During the 1930s, Welk led a travelling big band, specializing in dance tunes and 'sweet' music. The band performed in many places across the country, particularly in the Chicago area. In the early 1940s the band travelled to California for a six-week engagement at the Avalon Ballroom. This gig turned into a 10 year stint, drawing crowds of nearly 7000 on a regular basis.

In 1952, Welk settled in Los Angeles, California. That same year, he began producing The Lawrence Welk Show on KTLA in Los Angeles. The show was first aired nationally on ABC in 1955.

Welk's television program had a policy to only play well known songs and tunes from previous years, so that the target audience would only hear numbers that they were already familiar with. This strategy proved commercially successful.

Much of the show's appeal was Welk himself. Although born in the United States, he spoke with a slight but notable European accent that many, especially ladies, found to be quite appealing. His TV show was recorded as if it were live and was sometimes quite free-wheeling. Welk often took ladies from the audience for a turn around the dance floor. During one show Welk brought a cameraman out to dance with one of the ladies and took over the camera himself.

The reputation for "corny music" notwithstanding, his musicians were always top quality, including accordionist Myron Floren and New Orleans Dixieland clarinetist Pete Fountain. Welk was noted for spotlighting individual members of his band and show. His band was well-disciplined and had excellent arrangements in all styles. One notable showcase was his album with the noted jazz saxophonist Johnny Hodges. Welk's instrumental cover of the song "Yellow Bird" was a hit.

He was married for over sixty years, until his death, to Fern Renner, who bore him three children. One of his sons ended up marrying fellow Lawrence Welk Show performer Tanya Falan.

Welk's California automobile license plate read A1ANA2, referencing his trademark count-off before each number, "A one, and a two..."

His band continues to appear in a dedicated theater in Branson, Missouri even though Welk is now deceased. A resort community in Escondido, California is named after Welk.

Welk is said to have learned English only when he was already an adult because he always spoke German at home. When he was asked about his ancestry, he replied always with "Alsace-Lorraine, Germany" (although this was totally wrong).

He died from pneumonia in Santa Monica, California at the age of 89, and is buried in Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery in Culver City, California.


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He died from pneumonia in Santa Monica, California at the age of 89, and is buried in Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery in Culver City, California. In 2000 he played to his largest audience as a featured performer at the Closing Ceremonies of the 2000 Summer Olympics. When he was asked about his ancestry, he replied always with "Alsace-Lorraine, Germany" (although this was totally wrong). He ceased recording new music and concentrated on a second career as a radio disc jockey until the film Strictly Ballroom was released in 1992. Featuring a new version of Love Is In The Air the film was a success throughout the world, and Young's single once again peaked at number 2 on the Australian charts, and was a minor hit in the UK. Welk is said to have learned English only when he was already an adult because he always spoke German at home. He turned to a more contemporary rock style in the 1980s and had his final Top 10 hit in Australia in 1983 with the single Soldier of Fortune. A resort community in Escondido, California is named after Welk. Subsequent singles such as The Day That My Heart Caught Fire and Heaven Sent continued the disco style but did not find an audience.

His band continues to appear in a dedicated theater in Branson, Missouri even though Welk is now deceased. Its successor, Love Is In The Air, became his only worldwide hit, peaking at #2 on the Australian charts, #7 in the US, and #5 in the UK. Welk's California automobile license plate read A1ANA2, referencing his trademark count-off before each number, "A one, and a two...". In 1978 he released a disco song titled Standing In The Rain which became a major hit throughout Europe. One of his sons ended up marrying fellow Lawrence Welk Show performer Tanya Falan. Yesterday's Hero also became a minor hit in the US. He was married for over sixty years, until his death, to Fern Renner, who bore him three children. In addition to his Australian success, he achieved hit singles in Europe, Asia and South Africa.

Welk's instrumental cover of the song "Yellow Bird" was a hit. Louis, The Love Game, Here We Go, Keep On Smiling, Where The Action Is, I Hate The Music and I Wanna Do It With You. One notable showcase was his album with the noted jazz saxophonist Johnny Hodges. A string of hits followed in Australia including Pasadena (co-written by Young, Vanda and British actor David Hemming), Yesterday's Hero, St. His band was well-disciplined and had excellent arrangements in all styles. When songwriters and record producers Harry Vanda and George Young returned to Australia, they took over as Young's producers and began writing and producing songs for him. Welk was noted for spotlighting individual members of his band and show. After being signed to a contract with Albert Productions, (the company that had produced Australia's top Sixties group The Easybeats) he recorded a couple of unsuccessful singles produced by visiting producer-manager Simon Napier-Bell.

The reputation for "corny music" notwithstanding, his musicians were always top quality, including accordionist Myron Floren and New Orleans Dixieland clarinetist Pete Fountain. In early 1972 he was selected for the role of 'Simon Zealotes' in the original Australian production of Jesus Christ Superstar and he remained with the production until it closed in 1974. During one show Welk brought a cameraman out to dance with one of the ladies and took over the camera himself. Young moved to Sydney as a child and by the early 1970s had become the lead singer with the Sydney rock band Elm Tree. Welk often took ladies from the audience for a turn around the dance floor. John Paul Young (born June 21, 1950 in Glasgow, Scotland) is an Australian singer. His TV show was recorded as if it were live and was sometimes quite free-wheeling.

Although born in the United States, he spoke with a slight but notable European accent that many, especially ladies, found to be quite appealing. Much of the show's appeal was Welk himself. This strategy proved commercially successful. Welk's television program had a policy to only play well known songs and tunes from previous years, so that the target audience would only hear numbers that they were already familiar with.

The show was first aired nationally on ABC in 1955. That same year, he began producing The Lawrence Welk Show on KTLA in Los Angeles. In 1952, Welk settled in Los Angeles, California. This gig turned into a 10 year stint, drawing crowds of nearly 7000 on a regular basis.

In the early 1940s the band travelled to California for a six-week engagement at the Avalon Ballroom. The band performed in many places across the country, particularly in the Chicago area. During the 1930s, Welk led a travelling big band, specializing in dance tunes and 'sweet' music. His band was the station band for popular radio station WNAX in Yankton, South Dakota.

In the 1920s Welk lead a big band played engagments in eastern South Dakota area. His "Champagne Music" has been considered the epitome of "square". His show was warm and family-oriented. His music was conservative, concentrating mostly on pop song standards, polkas, and novelty songs, delivered in a smooth, calming, good-humored easy listening style.

He was born in Strasburg, North Dakota to Russian German parents. Lawrence Welk (March 11, 1903—May 17, 1992) was a musician, accordion player, band leader, and television impresario.

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