Lawrence Welk - Songs


Lawrence Welk (March 11, 1903 - May 17, 1992) was a veteran bandleader and accordionist with a trademark style known as "champagne music," a light and danceable combination of big band and traditional pop. The affable German-accented entertainer and impresario was the longtime host of "The Lawrence Welk Show," an immensely popular TV variety show that aired from 1951-1982, with reruns that continue to be shown weekly on many PBS stations throughout the country. Beginning in the late 1930s, he amassed a very long string of hits that included such favorites as the chirpy "Bubbles In The Wine" (1939) later used for many years as both the opening and closing themes to his show. Despite the explosion of rock & roll during the late 1950s-early 1960s that had all but eclipsed most older performing artists, Welk had his all-time greatest hit in 1960 with the easy listening harpsichord instrumental classic, "Calcutta," which topped the charts the following year.

Born in Strasburg, North Dakota to German immigrant parents, Welk, who did not learn to speak English until he was 21, grew up on a farm as the third youngest of eight children and began playing the accordion at an early age. His family often struggled to make ends meet, and he dropped out of school during the fourth grade to work full time on the farm. Welk later persuaded his father to buy him a professional-grade accordion in exchange for working on the family farm until he was 21 and in addition, any money he made as a musician would go to his family. Welk began performing professionally around Strasburg at various local events, eventually earning enough to pay his parents back for the accordion before leaving home in 1924. By the late 1920s, Welk had formed his own traveling band with a large following, made his first recordings for Paramount and Gennett Records, and launched a career in radio.

Lawrence Welk debuted on the Pop charts in 1938 with "Colorado Sunset," a sweet waltz sung by Walter Bloom with Welk on accordion. Other pre-1950 hits included Welk's signature song, "Bubbles In The Wine" (1939), plus "I Wish That I Could Hide Inside This Letter" (1944, with Jayne Walton), "Cleanin' My Rifle (And Dreamin' Of You)" (1944, with Bobby Beers), "Don't Sweetheart Me" (1944, with Wayne Marsh), "Mairzy Doats" (1944, with Bobby Beers), "Is My Baby Blue Tonight" (1944, with Jayne Walton), and "Shame On You" (1945, with Red Foley), the latter of which topped the Country charts.

Welk's long string of hits after 1950, which later consisted mainly of instrumentals, included "Oh, Happy Day" (1953, with Larry Hooper), "Moritat A Theme From 'The Three Penny Opera'" (1956), "The Poor People Of Paris" (1956), "Tonight You Belong To Me" (1956, with The Lennon Sisters and The Sparklers), "Liechtenstein Polka" (1957, with The Sparklers), "Last Date" (1960), "Yellow Bird" (1961), "Baby Elephant Walk" (1962), and "Apples And Bananas" (1965). In addition to topping the Pop/Rock charts, his biggest hit, "Calcutta" (1960), also made the R&B charts' Top 10. Welk's final charting song came in 1970 with his rendition of The Dixiebelles' "Southtown, U.S.A.," which became a Top 40 Adult Contemporary chart hit. Other songs for which Welk became famous included "Adios, Au Revoir, Auf Wiedersehen" which was used from 1971-1982 as the closing theme to his show.

Lawrence Welk's numerous honors and accolades included the Horatio Alger Award (1967) and two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for recording and another for television. He served as the Grand Marshal for the Rose Bowl's Tournament of Roses parade in 1972, and he was inducted into the International Polka Music Hall of Fame in 1994. The farm on which he grew up was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1993. Welk recounted his career and life in "Wunnerful, Wunnerful! The Autobiography Of Lawrence Welk" (1971) and "Ah-One, Ah-Two! Life With My Musical Family" (1974).



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Lawrence Welk

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