He was highly regarded by Lawrence Welk, who was an accomplished accordion player in his own right. Floren functioned as Welk’s principal assistant and second-in-command. In Floren’s autobiography, Accordion Man, he recalled handling road manager duties when the band traveled, including making hotel arrangements and handling other logistical duties. Floren has been seen in a hosting role of repeats of The Lawrence Welk Show on PBS.
Growing up on a farm near Roslyn, South Dakota, Myron took up playing the accordion at age six when his father bought him a $10 mail-order squeezebox. He taught himself how to play the instrument, often spending several hours a day using his own methods of study. Soon he was performing solo around the community, often at fairs and social events.
He worked his way through Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota by working at radio station KSOO as “The Melody Man” and teaching accordion all over the area. When he tried to enlist in the Army when the United States entered World War II, he was turned down for active duty due to a damaged heart caused by a bout of rheumatic fever he had as a child. However, he insisted on serving his country by joining the USO, performing in Europe with notable stars such as Lily Pons and Marlene Dietrich.
After the war, he returned home to South Dakota, where he married Berdyne Koerner in 1945. The couple eventually had five daughters, three sons-in-law, and seven grandchildren.
In 1950, Myron, who was performing with the music group known as the Buckeye Four, went to a dance at the Casa Loma Ballroom in St. Louis, Missouri where the Lawrence Welk Orchestra was playing. When the maestro recognized the accordion virtuoso in the audience, he invited him to play a number with his band. The number turned out to be “Lady of Spain”, and from the overwhelming positive response from the audience, Lawrence hired Myron to be a permanent member of his band. “Lady of Spain” also became Floren’s trademark song, and he played it countless times on the Welk show.
For the next 32 years, Myron would become one of the most popular members of the band and the organization itself. It began with the band’s migration to California, along with concert dates on the road, and exposure to television, first on local broadcasts from the Aragon Ballroom in Santa Monica, California and later on the ABC network in 1955. During the time The Lawrence Welk Show was on television, Floren was a featured solo performer and an assistant conductor. He also took over some of the maestro’s announcing duties.
After the show went off the air in the early 1980s, Myron continued to perform on the road, with as many as 200 dates a year, either as a solo artist or with other members of the Welk Show cast. Among the annual events where he headlined were Wurstfest in New Braunfels, Texas; Norsk Høstfest in Minot, North Dakota; the Strawberry Festival in Plant City, Florida and PolkaFest at the Welk Resort in Branson, Missouri.
On July 23, 2005, Floren died at his home near Los Angeles, California after a long battle with cancer.
He was a member of the International Polka Music Hall of Fame, having been inducted in 1990.
Edited by Tetisu on 10 Feb 2008, 20:07
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