If he were still living, Lawrence Welk would turn 102 today. For those few listeners who may have never heard of Welk, he was one of America’s most successful bandleaders.
Lawrence grew up in a sod house near Strasburg in south-central North Dakota. His first clear memory was of crawling to his father who was smiling and holding out an old accordion. Another favorite memory was of the day his brother John got married. Lawrence volunteered to stay home to do chores so he could play John’s accordion the entire day without being made to stop. From driving around the Northern Plains with his “Hotsy-Totsy Boys” Welk went to hosting a hugely popular TV show from Los Angeles.
Welk is still a big draw – the present day specials produced from his old TV shows are almost always the top rated shows on Prairie Public Television. Some quarters, when Prairie Public runs a couple of his specials, Lawrence Welk is ranked, you could say, a-one and a-two.
(Source: Wunnerful, Wunnerful! The Autobiography of Lawrence Welk; Prentice-Hall, Inc. 1971)