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 2001 they recorded an instrumental soundtrack for eight short undersea documentaries of Jean Painleve, entitled The Sounds Of The Sounds Of Science. When he was asked about his ancestry, he replied always with "Alsace-Lorraine, Germany" (although this was totally wrong). They released And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out in 2000 (2000) and Summer Sun in 2003 (2003). Welk is said to have learned English only when he was already an adult because he always spoke German at home. Painful (1993), Electr-o-Pura (1995) and I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One (1997) marked a steady progression towards folk-British Invasion oriented songs. A resort community in Escondido, California is named after Welk. May I Sing with Me (1992) included new bassist James McNew (of Christmas and Dump).

His band continues to appear in a dedicated theater in Branson, Missouri even though Welk is now deceased. 1990 saw the release of Fakebook, an album of mostly folk tunes, including covers from Gene Clark, Rex Garvin & the Mighty Cravers, the Escorts, the Flamin' Groovies, the Scene Is Now, the Kinks (1990), and notably, Yo la Tengo themselves. Welk's California automobile license plate read A1ANA2, referencing his trademark count-off before each number, "A one, and a two...". President Yo La Tengo (1989) continued this trend, with raving reviews yet poor sales. One of his sons ended up marrying fellow Lawrence Welk Show performer Tanya Falan. 1987's New Wave Hot Dogs did much to establish the band's reputation among rock critics, though it sold poorly (1987). He was married for over sixty years, until his death, to Fern Renner, who bore him three children. Schramm and Lewis left the band, and Stephen Wichnewski joined, with Kaplan taking on the role of lead guitar.

Welk's instrumental cover of the song "Yellow Bird" was a hit. In 1986, their first LP, Ride the Tiger, was released. One notable showcase was his album with the noted jazz saxophonist Johnny Hodges. They went through several other bandmembers before stabilizing with Dave Schramm and Mike Lewis for their debut recording, "The River of Water". His band was well-disciplined and had excellent arrangements in all styles. Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley, a husband/wife duo, formed the band in 1984. Welk was noted for spotlighting individual members of his band and show. who understood no Spanish.

The reputation for "corny music" notwithstanding, his musicians were always top quality, including accordionist Myron Floren and New Orleans Dixieland clarinetist Pete Fountain. He relaxed, positioned himself to catch the ball, and was run over by 200-pound left fielder Frank Thomas Sr. During one show Welk brought a cameraman out to dance with one of the ladies and took over the camera himself. Ashburn happily saw Chacon backing off. Welk often took ladies from the audience for a turn around the dance floor. Finally, Ashburn learnt to yell, "Yo la tengo! Yo la tengo!" which is "I've got it" in Spanish. His TV show was recorded as if it were live and was sometimes quite free-wheeling. Every time Ashburn went for a ball, he would scream, "I got it! I got it!" only to collide with the 160-pound Chacon, who only spoke Spanish.

Although born in the United States, he spoke with a slight but notable European accent that many, especially ladies, found to be quite appealing. The center fielder of the New York Mets in 1962, Richie Ashburn, was crashing again and again with Venezuelan, Elio Chacon. Much of the show's appeal was Welk himself. Their name comes from a baseball anecdote. This strategy proved commercially successful. Yo La Tengo is an American rock band that never achieved popular success but has become a critics' favorite. 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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