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Frankie Yankovic

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Biography

Frankie Yankovic (July 15, 1915 Davis, West Virginia - October 14, 1998) was a polka musician. Known as America’s Polka King, he was the premier artist to play in the Slovenian style.

Of Slovenian descent, he was from Cleveland, Ohio. Yankovic released over 200 recordings in his career. In 1986 he was awarded the first ever Grammy in the Best Polka Recording category.

Yankovic seldom strayed from the Slovenian-style polka, but did record with country singer Chet Atkins, pop singer Don Everly, and a version of the “Too Fat Polka” with comedian Drew Carey, also from Cleveland.

Yankovic enlisted in the Armed Forces in 1943, and cut some records while on leave, prior to his departure for Europe. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge, where a severe case of frostbite nearly resulted in the amputation of his hands and feet; fortunately, he was able to beat the gangrene before that became necessary, and was awarded a Purple Heart. He became an accomplished accordion player.

Yankovic was not related to “Weird Al” Yankovic, but Al did play accordion for “Who Stole the Kishka” on one of Frankie’s final records, Songs of the Polka King, Vol. 1.

Yankovic died in New Port Richey, Florida due to heart failure.

Trivia

“Pennsylvania Polka,” performed by Frankie Yankovic, was played (numerous times) in the film “Groundhog Day.”

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