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. However, during its lifespan, Wings underwent numerous personnel changes. When he was asked about his ancestry, he replied always with "Alsace-Lorraine, Germany" (although this was totally wrong). Wings was ostensibly a true band, and in fact several members besides McCartney contributed songs and occasional vocals, but McCartney was unquestionably the group's leader and star. Welk is said to have learned English only when he was already an adult because he always spoke German at home. Wings' 1977 single, "Mull of Kintyre"/"Girls School" is still the biggest-selling non-charity single in the UK (although Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" sold more, its sales include a reissue in aid of the Terence Higgins Trust) and it ranked fourth in the official list of best selling singles in the UK issued in 2002. A resort community in Escondido, California is named after Welk. As leader of Wings, McCartney however was rising to a new peak of success and he became the only one of the four Beatles who continued to tour and record regularly in the years after their split.

His band continues to appear in a dedicated theater in Branson, Missouri even though Welk is now deceased. But by the mid-Seventies Lennon's solo career had run out of steam and he had stopped recording; Harrison too was fading from view by this time as by 1976 he had all but retired from recording and performing. Welk's California automobile license plate read A1ANA2, referencing his trademark count-off before each number, "A one, and a two...". Though McCartney was the first Beatle to release a solo album after the official break-up of the band, it was John Lennon's early solo output which initially gained the lead in both critical opinion and commercial success, and George Harrison had scored a huge success with his 1971 triple-album solo debut All Things Must Pass. One of his sons ended up marrying fellow Lawrence Welk Show performer Tanya Falan. The longevity and success of Wings can be seen as something of a vindication for McCartney, whose early home-grown solo output, which frequently featured simplistic nursery-rhyme styled lyrics and sketchy arrangements and production, sometimes led to critical dismissal of his work as "lightweight" next to the more serious nature of his former bandmates' solo output. He was married for over sixty years, until his death, to Fern Renner, who bore him three children. Wings continued to demo some more tunes during 1980/1981 but following a disastrous aborted Japanese tour they fell apart.

Welk's instrumental cover of the song "Yellow Bird" was a hit. During this tour the live version of "Coming Up" was recodred, this being their final US number one the following year. One notable showcase was his album with the noted jazz saxophonist Johnny Hodges. In November and December of 1979 Wings performed their final tour of the UK, climaxing with a massive 'Rockestra' all-star collection of musicians in London in aid of UNICEF and Kampuchean refugees. This final version of the band included guitarist Lawrence Juber and drummer Steve Holly, who had joined the group in 1978. His band was well-disciplined and had excellent arrangements in all styles. McCartney was also honoured by The Guinness Book Of Records with a unique rhodium disc, recognising his achievement as the most successful popular music composer of all time. Welk was noted for spotlighting individual members of his band and show. During that year, Wings joined Buddy Holly's band, The Crickets onstage in London at the annual Buddy Holly Week party.

The reputation for "corny music" notwithstanding, his musicians were always top quality, including accordionist Myron Floren and New Orleans Dixieland clarinetist Pete Fountain. In 1979 Wings released the singles "Goodnight Tonight", "Getting Closer" and "Wonderful Christmastime" and the album Back to the Egg, a critical and commercial failure and the last McCartney project released under the Wings moniker, with McCartney returning to solo billing on future recordings. During one show Welk brought a cameraman out to dance with one of the ladies and took over the camera himself. The album was a major commercial success, reaching #2 on the charts, but featured a markedly softer-rock, synth-based sound and yielded only minor UK hits in "With a Little Luck" and "Girlfriend" (the former was a big hit in the US). Welk often took ladies from the audience for a turn around the dance floor. Though still released as a Wings album, the band was now reduced to Paul, Linda, Laine, and a host of studio players. His TV show was recorded as if it were live and was sometimes quite free-wheeling. During the recording of the album in May, 1977, both Joe English and Jimmy McCullough parted ways with Wings (McCulloch died of a heroin overdose in 1979.).

Although born in the United States, he spoke with a slight but notable European accent that many, especially ladies, found to be quite appealing. McCartney released the album London Town in 1978. Much of the show's appeal was Welk himself. Its broad appeal was maximised by a pre-Christmas release and it became a massive international hit, dominating the charts in Britain, Australia and many other countries over the Christmas/New Year period and becoming one of the biggest selling UK singles of all time. This strategy proved commercially successful. At the end of 1977 McCartney released the ballad "Mull of Kintyre", an ode to the Scottish coastal region he had made his home in the early Seventies. 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. Later in the year the band recorded their next album in the Virgin Islands.

The show was first aired nationally on ABC in 1955. During 1977 he released the peculiar, unpromoted and little-known album Thrillington -- an orchestral re-make of the earlier Ram album, issued under the pseudonym 'Percy "Thrills" Thrillington', followed by single version of a live recording of "Maybe I'm Amazed". That same year, he began producing The Lawrence Welk Show on KTLA in Los Angeles. After the world tour McCartney took a break, but this period produced both the most obscure and the most successful records he has made. In 1952, Welk settled in Los Angeles, California. Ever the astute businessman, McCartney also cannily bought the rights to an off-Broadway musical he had seen in America, and this investment reaped huge returns when the musical was adapted into the smash-hit feature film Grease. This gig turned into a 10 year stint, drawing crowds of nearly 7000 on a regular basis. Also in 1976, McCartney inaugurated Buddy Holly Week in London, founded on what would have been Holly's 40th birthday and marked with an annual celebrity party; his lifelong passion for the music of this rock'n'roll pioneer was also reflected in his aquisition of Holly's publishing catalogue.

In the early 1940s the band travelled to California for a six-week engagement at the Avalon Ballroom. Further hits followed with the singles "Silly Love Songs" and "Let 'Em In". The band performed in many places across the country, particularly in the Chicago area. One of the Seattle concerts from the American leg of the '75-'76 world tour was filmed and later released as the concert feature Rockshow (1980). During the 1930s, Welk led a travelling big band, specializing in dance tunes and 'sweet' music. McCartney still mostly shied away from the Beatles catalogue; only five such numbers were typically included in the American shows. His band was the station band for popular radio station WNAX in Yankton, South Dakota. Also during this period, Wings embarked on a hugely successful and theatrical world tour, documented in the triple-live LP set Wings Over America, which included a late 1975 tour of Australia, McCartney's first visit there since the Beatles' epoch-making Antipodean tour in June, 1964.

In the 1920s Welk lead a big band played engagments in eastern South Dakota area. Band on the Run was followed by similarly successful albums Venus and Mars (1975), which was recorded in New Orleans, and Wings at the Speed of Sound (1976), recorded in Nashville, both of which took top chart positions. His "Champagne Music" has been considered the epitome of "square". It also included two songs, "Let Me Roll It" and "Nineteen Hundred And Eighty Five", thought to be answer songs to "How Do You Sleep?", John Lennon's earlier scathing attack on McCartney. His show was warm and family-oriented. Moreover Band on the Run enjoyed a very positive critical reception, and did much to restore McCartney's somewhat damaged post-Beatles image. His music was conservative, concentrating mostly on pop song standards, polkas, and novelty songs, delivered in a smooth, calming, good-humored easy listening style. The album went to #1 and spawned a half-dozen hit singles including the rockers "Jet" and "Helen Wheels", the acoustic ballad "Bluebird", the title track -- a suite of movements recalling side 2 of Abbey Road -- and the rocky non-album single "Junior's Farm".

He was born in Strasburg, North Dakota to Russian German parents. Following the release of Speedway, Denny Seiwell and Henry McCullough left the band, leaving the McCartneys and Denny Laine to cut their next album at EMI's recording studio in Lagos, Nigeria, recording what turned out to be their breakthrough album, Band on the Run. Lawrence Welk (March 11, 1903—May 17, 1992) was a musician, accordion player, band leader, and television impresario. Over the years this has remained one of the most memorable of all Bond songs, and is always an exciting part of McCartney's concert performances (often played to fireworks). Wings also recorded the hit theme song to the James Bond film Live and Let Die, which reunited McCartney with producer George Martin. That same year, McCartney filmed his first American TV special James Paul McCartney, which was savagely criticised by noted rock journalist Lillian Roxon.

In early 1973, McCartney repeated this pattern, adding ex-Spooky Tooth guitarist Henry McCullough, and re-christening the band "Paul McCartney and Wings" for the album Red Rose Speedway which yielded the first big Wings hit, the romantic ballad "My Love". He scored hits with the relatively light singles "Mary Had A Little Lamb" and "Hi Hi Hi" (the latter getting in trouble with the BBC for alleged drug references). In 1972 McCartney returned to touring, mounting an impromptu tour of UK universities and small European venues (with the group literally driving around in a van), playing no Beatles numbers. (The band name is said to have come to McCartney as he was praying in the hospital while Linda was giving birth to their eldest child Stella McCartney.).

The result was Wild Life, the first project to credit "Wings". Late in 1971, drummer Denny Seiwell, and ex-Moody Blues guitarist and singer Denny Laine, joined Paul McCartney and wife Linda McCartney to record Paul's third post-Beatles project. See Paul McCartney. Wings was a pop-rock band led by Paul McCartney, formed after the dissolution of the Beatles.

Back to the Egg (1979). London Town (1978). Wings Over America (1976). Wings at the Speed of Sound (1976).

Venus and Mars (1975). Band on the Run (1973). Red Rose Speedway (1973). Wild Life (1971).

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