Welk Spurns Fads, Enjoys ‘His’
If someone has gone along for much of his life building, so to speak,
a pretty good mousetraps, it’s always pleasant to note the moment
when the world begins beating a path to his door.
Take the case of Lawrence Welk, a calm, thoughtful, 52-year-old
accordion playing bandleader who has been “discovered”
by million of television viewers. The popularity rise of his Saturday
evening ABC hour of “champagne music” is phenomenal.
Welk’s show premiered last July and scored a 7.1 Nielsen
rating. By January of this year it had a 30.4 Nielsen rating to
lead all networks in its time period.
A native of Strasburg, N.D., Welk has played the same type of smooth
music since the middle 1930s. Ignoring the swing, rock-and-roll
and be-bop dance crazes, he’s having his day now.
His orchestra made its inaugural broadcast over Radio-WNAX at Yankton,
S.D. Later it played under such names as “The Hotsy Totsy
Boys,” and “The Biggest Little Band in America.”
The champagne type of music began to take form after Welk added
an organ and another piano to the orchestra and began a tour of
Left to Right-
Klein, Little, Ramsey, Floren
Since 1951 his orchestra has been playing at the Aragon ballroom
in Ocean Park, Calif. It is the longest consecutive dance-band engagement
in ballroom history.
Several members of Welk’s band are natives of the mid-west.
Tiny Little, Jr., is from Worthington, Minn.; Curt Ramsey, Grand
Meadow, Minn.; Myron Floren, Webster, S.D. and Johnny Klein, Strasburg,
N.D. Four other Welk musicians are Iowa-born.
Welk is married to the former Fern Renner, a Yankton nurse. They
have three children-Shirley, 23; Donna Lee, 18, and Lawrence Jr.,
15. The Welks will celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary Sunday.
For relaxation Welk plays golf, tends the garden of his home near
Los Angeles and reads philosophical and historical literature.