A WUNNERFUL DAY IN MUSIC HISTORY

I recently took another field trip with the very lovely Mrs. Eclectic, to the 99 degree weather of Escondido, California.  We were paying a visit in the area, but during our stay, we stopped briefly at the landmark of a musical legend of a bygone era.

Lawrence Welk left his heart and spirit in this desert community, which is about 40 miles north of San Diego.  There is a famous golf course, a resort complex complete with all the trappings, and, appropriately, the Lawrence Welk Museum and Theatre. To our surprise, this museum was the coolest part of the trip.

Was this “Champagne Man”  one of my heroes?  Was I a big fan?  Not particularly.  Even my parents weren’t into his television show, but my granddad did watch it.  Even in the show’s prime, it was a throwback.  To all of my peers, it was old people’s music with old people’s sensibilities.  In other words, anything but cool.

But, today, as my wife and I were discussing, we can appreciate what Lawrence Welk represented through the TV tube.  Big band swing, waltzes, polkas, and even jazz was showcased on his weekly hour of entertainment.  The point is that these types of music were fading away, and he kept them alive, and that’s a good thing. Given the time of their relevance, each genre contributed its own positive influence in the lives of everyday Americans.

So, it was definitely a trip in the wayback machine to 1951, where KTLA (that’s channel 5 here in L.A.) regularly broadcasted his band from Ocean Park in the Aragon Ballroom on Lick Pier in Santa Monica.  The station quickly signed them to a long-term contract due to the overwhelming response from the viewing audience.   In just a few short months, they gained a loyal sponsor, the Dodge Motor Company.  The relationship lasted for many years.

It was on today’s date, July 2, 1955, that Dodge partnered with the Welk show as they went nationwide.  This began a twenty-five year love affair with their fans.  By 1980, they set a record that still hasn’t been matched by any other musical show in television history – 25 years of continuous broadcasts.

By 1982, then on ABC, he taped his final show, leaving behind many champagne memories.  He died ten years later in Santa Monica, the city that launched his televised voyage.  He was 89 years old.

Though not a songwriter, Welk was an accomplished bandleader, musician, and a music publisher.  He had few gold records under his belt, and more than 25 singles on Billboard.  And his musicians were always the cream of the crop.  He was conservative and old-school, but definitely not uncool.  That’s the way I see it now!

Anyway, just sharing another “wunnerful” day in music history!  It comes at a great time as we celebrate the founding of our country.  Lawrence Welk was born the son of Russian German parents in North Dakota.  And ever since, he has been a patriotic American through and through!  This article is not intended to be a biography, so you can learn more of his story on this website –  www.welkmusicalfamily.com/

 

See ya!

DEAN