Published by The Welk Group Inc., Santa Monica, California, 1995, softcover, 63 pages
Out-of-print - not available
Born to Germans from Russia immigrants, in a sod farmhouse near Strasburg in south-central North Dakota, Lawrence Welk was always drawn to music. In his autobiography Wunnerful, Wunnerful he wrote, "my earliest clear memory is crawling toward my father who was holding his accordion. I can still recall the wonder and delight I felt when he let me press my fingers on the keys and squeeze out a few wavering notes."
By the time he turned 17, Lawrence knew he could never be a farmer and that he really wanted to make music his life's work. In exchange for a $400 accordion, to be purchased by his dad, he agreed to stay on the farm and work for four more years.
On his 21st birthday, March 11, 1924, he left home to pursue his dream. He had little money and couldn't speak English, but what he did have was his accordion, his talent, and an overwhelming desire to succeed. His legendary life's work had just begun.
After delighting television viewers and concert-goers for four generations, the legendary Lawrence Welk Show is live again on stage in Branson, Missouri. Featuring some of the best-loved singers, dancers and musicians from the Lawrence Welk television show, as well as a sampling of new talent, it's a heart-warming reunion of the Welk Musical Family that you know and love.
Lawrence Welk grew up in the Midwest; it was is lifelong dream to tour the country playing music. His dream began to take form as he established his own band in 1924 and started playing dances throughout the Midwest. By 1938 the band had grown to 13 pieces and he managed to get a booking at The William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh. From there it was the Trianon Ballroom in Chicago.
Lawrence continued to play across the country, receiving his big break in 1951 when a television crew from KTLA broadcast one of his Los Angeles area dances. The response was overwhelming. This marked the beginning of his renowned national prominence, with a four-year stint on KTLA in Los Angeles, 16 years on the ABC network and 11 years in syndication. The Lawrence Welk Show became the longest-running musical variety show in television history and continues today on Public Television.
Now, with the opening of the Welk Resort Center & Champagne Theatre in Branson, his dream has come full circle. Members of the musical family have returned home to the Midwest, continuing this American legacy.
It has been more than 70 years since my dad left the farm with his accordion and a dream of being able to bring music and happiness into the lives of others. He loved his life and was thrilled to be able to bring his TV show into millions of homes each week. But, nothing brought him more personal happiness than being able to entertain in front of a live audience. Wouldn't he have loved Branson!
We, the members of his family, are very proud of the legacy, and privileged and dedicated to keeping his dream and music alive.
For further information about The Lawrence Welk Collection and the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, contact Michael M. Miller, Germans from Russia Bibliographer, NDSU Libraries, PO Box 5599, Fargo, ND 58105-5599 (Tel: 701-231-8416; E-mail: Michael.Miller@ndsu.edu).
The Lawrence Welk Show: Then and Now
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