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Polka King

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Polka King




Frankie Yankovic, the foremost musician in American polka history, never wanted to play it safe. His life was filled with triumphs, defeats, crises, and controversies. An uninhibited original, Yankovic earned his international reputation.

For half a century, the Cleveland native thrilled polka fans around the globe with hits such as “Just Because” and the “Blue Skirt Waltz.” He sold millions of records, won the first Polka Grammy, influenced a generation of musicians, and found fame and fortune beyond his wildest dreams.

But behind the light-hearted sounds of the accordion stood a man obsessed. Yankovic's tumultuous touring schedule and restless temper alienated talented band members and made family life difficult. Yankovic struggled with dark emotions while playing “the happiest music on earth.”

Yankovic rose above his troubles and became an idol to polka fans in America, Canada, and Europe. He could be lovable, mean, generous, and petty, but always brave and audacious. Above all, he was an entertainer. There may never be another like him. This is his story.


“It's easy to romanticize the days when polka was king; it's more of a challenge to capture the complexity of real people in an era when Cleveland's factories and ethnic social halls were alive. Rather than succumb to the temptation of simply marveling, former Plain Dealer columnist Bob Dolgan takes an unflinching look at the life and times of a superstar.” - Free Times

“Many authors could have come up with the outlne of Yankovic's life, but Dolgan goes much further to define the King's personal appeal. This enlightening biograhy may spark sales of polka music.” - Akron Beacon Journal

“In this new millennium, Cleveland has King James, as in LeBron, the world-famous basketball player. In the last century of the old millennium, however, Clevelanders knew a different King. This one was Frank, as in Yankovic, the man who made the words polka and Cleveland nearly synonymous from the late thirties until his death in 1998 . . . Bob Dolgan knew Yankovic when they were both hardly more than pups. He has written an engaging book about Yankovic . . . Dolgan tells it like it was--both the shiny and tarnished parts.” -

“The most interesting book we have ever read. . . Frankie Yankovic was quite an interesting individual but when put in context of the other musicians of his era, the music, and the times-this is even more than his story, it is a history of the Cleveland style music that we all love so much today. . . Dolgan does an excellent job and we hope that he will write more just like it. ” - Polka News

“Chapters cover [Yankovic's] turbulent life, his service in World War II, the loves of his life including the bitter end to his first marriage, raising his children, and of course, the absolutely stunning and smashing popularity of his music. Black-and-white photographs, an extensive discography, and an index round out this appealing survey of the sunshine and shadows in a groundbreaking musician's life.” - Midwest Book Review

“If you ever heard or have seen Frank Yankovic perform, you have to read this book. Dolgan did a masterful job in putting this book together.” - Polka Times

About Bob Dolgan

Bob Dolgan has written thousands of columns, articles, and feature stories about sports for the Plain Dealer during the past six decades. His writing has also appeared in the Sporting News, Baseball Digest, and Golf Digest. He was named one of the top 10 sports columnists in America by the Associated Press Sports Editors in 1985, and has won many other national, state, and local sportswriting awards. Since 1995, he has written frequently about sports history for the Plain Dealer, including contributions to a nationally recognized 1997 series on black baseball players and a 2001 series on the 100th anniversary of the Cleveland Indians. In 1999 he was inducted into the Cleveland Journalism Hall of Fame. He is also co-author of The Polka King, with Frank Yankovic. A Cleveland native and a graduate of John Carroll University, he lives in Willoughby Hills, Ohio.



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