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. For a full discography, see The Who discography.. When he was asked about his ancestry, he replied always with "Alsace-Lorraine, Germany" (although this was totally wrong). In September of 2002, Q magazine named The Who as one of the "50 Bands To See Before You Die". Welk is said to have learned English only when he was already an adult because he always spoke German at home. In 2004 The Who released two new songs, and it is expected that in the spring of 2005 they will release their first new album in 22 years. A resort community in Escondido, California is named after Welk. After a brief delay, the tour commenced with bassist Pino Palladino filling in for Entwistle.

His band continues to appear in a dedicated theater in Branson, Missouri even though Welk is now deceased. A coroner's investigation revealed that while not technically an overdose, a modest amount of cocaine in his system was a contributing factor in a fatal heart attack, the result of years of heart trouble caused or aggravated by regular cocaine use. Welk's California automobile license plate read A1ANA2, referencing his trademark count-off before each number, "A one, and a two...". Just before the outset of a tour in the summer of 2002, John Entwistle was found dead in his room at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. One of his sons ended up marrying fellow Lawrence Welk Show performer Tanya Falan. By this time Zak Starkey was their regular drummer. He was married for over sixty years, until his death, to Fern Renner, who bore him three children. In 1996 they staged successful multi-media performances of Quadrophenia featuring a narrator and guest singers.

Welk's instrumental cover of the song "Yellow Bird" was a hit. Their best-known reunion tour occurred in 1989 and emphasized Tommy. One notable showcase was his album with the noted jazz saxophonist Johnny Hodges. Thereafter they stopped recording new material and settled into intermittent forays on the "nostalgia tour circuit", as Townshend focused on solo projects such as The Iron Man and Psychoderelict, a forerunner to the eventual release of the radio work Lifehouse. His band was well-disciplined and had excellent arrangements in all styles. In 1982 they also embarked on the first in a series of farewell tours. Welk was noted for spotlighting individual members of his band and show. The band released two more studio albums with Jones as their drummer, Face Dances (1981) and It's Hard (1982).

The reputation for "corny music" notwithstanding, his musicians were always top quality, including accordionist Myron Floren and New Orleans Dixieland clarinetist Pete Fountain. Band members were not told of the deaths until after the show because civic authorities feared more crowd control problems if the concert were cancelled, and the band members were reportedly devastated when they found out about it. During one show Welk brought a cameraman out to dance with one of the ladies and took over the camera himself. The following year was also traumatic for the band: on December 3, 1979 in Cincinnati, Ohio, a stampede for seats at Riverfront Coliseum at the start of a Who concert killed eleven fans. Welk often took ladies from the audience for a turn around the dance floor. Kenny Jones, of The Small Faces and The Faces, joined the band as his replacement. His TV show was recorded as if it were live and was sometimes quite free-wheeling. The release of the album was overshadowed by the accidental drug overdose death of Keith Moon shortly afterward.

Although born in the United States, he spoke with a slight but notable European accent that many, especially ladies, found to be quite appealing. In 1978 the band released Who Are You, a move away from epic rock opera and towards a more radio-friendly sound, though it did contain one song from a never-completed Rock opera by John Entwistle. Much of the show's appeal was Welk himself. The band's later albums contained songs of more personal content for Townshend, and he eventually transferred this personal style to his solo albums, as seen on the album Empty Glass. This strategy proved commercially successful. Who's Next was followed by a second Rock opera called Quadrophenia (1973), with a story line based on the clashes between Mods and Rockers in the early 1960s, particularly the riots between the two factions at Brighton. 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. Although the intended album was not released until reconstructed as a radio play for the BBC in 2000, the Who included many of the project's best songs in Who's Next (1971), which would become their most successful album.

The show was first aired nationally on ABC in 1955. Townshend then attempted an even more ambitious concept album cum Performance Art project called Lifehouse. That same year, he began producing The Lawrence Welk Show on KTLA in Los Angeles. Around this time the spiritual teachings of Meher Baba began to influence Peter Townshend's songwriting, and he is credited as 'Avatar' on the Tommy album. In 1952, Welk settled in Los Angeles, California. Those early efforts were followed by Tommy (1969), their first complete Rock opera and the first commercially successful one by any artist. This gig turned into a 10 year stint, drawing crowds of nearly 7000 on a regular basis. The Who Sell Out also included a track from a never-completed Rock opera.

In the early 1940s the band travelled to California for a six-week engagement at the Avalon Ballroom. The first sign of this ambition came in their album A Quick One (1966), which included the story-telling medley "A Quick One, While He's Away", which they later refered to as a "mini opera". A Quick One was followed by The Who Sell Out (1967), a concept album that played like an offshore radio station, complete with jingles and commercials. The band performed in many places across the country, particularly in the Chicago area. Townshend also wanted to treat the Who's albums as unified works, rather than collections of unconnected songs. During the 1930s, Welk led a travelling big band, specializing in dance tunes and 'sweet' music. Although they had great success as a singles band, the Who, or more properly their leader Townshend, had their sights set higher, and over the years their music became more complex and their lyrics more provocative and involving. His band was the station band for popular radio station WNAX in Yankton, South Dakota. Another early favorite, showing Townshend's way with words, was the 1966 single "Substitute", which included the line, "I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth." The 1967 hit single "Pictures Of Lily", a tribute to masturbation, was possibly one of the most accomplished of all European contributions to psychedelic music.

In the 1920s Welk lead a big band played engagments in eastern South Dakota area. The album included such mod anthems as "The Kids are Alright" and the title track "My Generation", which contained the famous line, "Hope I die before I get old". His "Champagne Music" has been considered the epitome of "square". The Who's first hit was the 1965 Kinks-like single "I Can't Explain", and they vaulted to fame with their My Generation album that same year. His show was warm and family-oriented. Townshend was at the center of the band's tensions, as he strove to write challenging and thoughtful music, while Daltrey preferred energetic and macho material (Daltrey would occasionally refuse to sing a Townshend composition and Townshend would thus sing it himself), while Moon was a fan of American surf music. 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 band soon crystallized around Townshend as the primary songwriter (though Entwistle would also make the occasional contribution).

He was born in Strasburg, North Dakota to Russian German parents. One story also claims that Townshend's hearing loss was the result of standing too close to an explosive Moon had placed in his drum kit and detonated at the conclusion of a performance on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour variety show in 1967. Lawrence Welk (March 11, 1903—May 17, 1992) was a musician, accordion player, band leader, and television impresario. Townshend's partial deafness is well documented; popular legend has it that the members of the band suffered permanent hearing loss and tinnitus from their loud concerts, though Townshend maintains that the true cause was listening to the music at high volume through headphones. For a long period of time during the 1970s, they were listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the loudest rock band in the world, measured at 130 decibels, though other bands have since taken the title. The Who's performances were traditionally extremely loud.

(They were also notorious for treating their hotel rooms and dressing rooms the same way.). At the end of their live performances in their first years, the band would sometimes smash their instruments and explode smoke bombs, signalling that they had given the audience all they had. Through it all, Entwistle stood still, seemingly bored by the whole thing, and played intricate, powerful, innovative bass lines. The Who were natural showmen: Singer Roger Daltrey (a former sheet metal worker), was a dynamic front man, twirling his microphone on the end of its cord while Townshend played chords on his guitar with great windmill-like sweeps of his arms, and the maniacal Moon bashed and crashed like no drummer ever before him.

From the beginning, The Who drew attention because all three instrumentalists, guitarist Pete Townshend, bassist John Entwistle and drummer Keith Moon played, in effect, lead parts, yielding music at once more cacophonous and sophisticated than standard-issue rock tracks. They became one of the most popular bands among the British Mods, a social movement of the early 60s who rejected the "greaser" music favored by the Rockers. The rest, as they say, is history. When "Zoot Suit/I'm The Face" failed to chart, they quickly reverted back to The Who.

For a short period, under the management of Peter Meaden, they changed their name to The High Numbers during which time they released a mostly unsuccessful single under that name, designed to appeal to their mostly mod fans. They eventually changed their name to The Who and Keith joined soon after, making the classic line-up complete. In its earliest days, prior to Keith Moon joining, the band was known as The Detours and played mostly rhythm and blues. While not a heavy metal band themselves, their distorted guitars, epic songwriting, and over-the-top stage show were an influence on the genre.

They were noted for the dynamism of their live performances and for their thoughtful music, including Tommy, one of the first rock operas. The Who is a British rock band. ISBN 0312071558. Martin's Press.

St. Before I Get Old: The Story of the Who. Marsh, Dave (1983).

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