National Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum

605 East 222nd Street
Euclid, OH 44123




Phone: 216-261-3263

Toll Free: 1-800-66POLKA

Fax: 216-261-4134


Many top names in Cleveland-Style polka music got their start in the orchestra led by Al Strukel. The accordionist boosted the careers of future bandleaders Al Markic and Joe White and young performers, such as Paul Yanchar, Frank Mahnic, Bob Gospich and Mirk Yama. Al learned the button box at age nine and often jammed with childhood friend Johnny Pecon, his neighbor in Cleveland’s Collinwood district. After service in the Navy, Al organized his band featuring Polka Hall of Famer Al Markic. The group performed at local night spots, like the Welcome Tavern, the Bank Bar and the White Horse Tavern. Al’s orchestra was the very first to appear on radio station WSRS. In 1948, Al recorded tunes for the Continental label, including "Tonight by Candlelight," "Rob ’em Blind," and "A Night in May." He opened and closed every engagement with his theme song, "Thinking of You." Illness forced Al to sideline his entertaining in the mid-1950s, but he returned in the 1980s to host polka bus tours with Milan Racanovic. He was made a life member of the Cleveland Federation of Musicians.


Al was a police lieutenant in Wickliffe, Ohio. One night he stopped Johnny Vadnal, who was driving home from a late-night gig. Johnny didn’t recognize him at first and Al took advantage of the situation. When Johnny couldn’t produce any identification to verify he was the famous bandleader, Al made him get out his accordion to prove it. It was a tale they both enjoyed telling.



Inducted in 2011

National Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame


Trustees Honor Roll Recipient




1926 - 2000  © National Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum, 605 East 222nd Street, Euclid, OH 44123, USA.








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