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


Al Tercek set the pace for Cleveland-Style Polka drummers, providing the catalyst that would transform ethnic folk songs into commercially viable dance music. Developing patterns and riffs that became endemic to Cleveland-Style rhythm sections, Al played with virtually all of Cleveland-Style's greats, led his own orchestra for over 40 years, and exerted strong influence over a talented corps of Cleveland-Style drummers who would follow.

A fixture around the bandstand at Collinwood Slovenian Home, Al studied drums under Charlie Wilcoxin, played with the Joe Lasicky Trio at age twelve, joined Frank Yankovic's Orchestra at fourteen, and became Johnny Vadnal's drummer during World War II. Afterward, Al toured the Midwest with Joe Sodja's Cavalcade of Golf variety shows.

Influenced and guided by Kenny Bass in the studio, Al added zip to the Decca recordings of the Sokach-Habat Tunemixers and Eddie Habat in the late 1940s and, later, the majority of Bass' recordings for Coral, Decca, and Roulette. The Tunemixers' 1949 recording of "Blue Skirt Waltz" sold over 700,000 copies and landed them their own weekly radio show with Howie Lund. With the Habat Orchestra, Al played an important role in orchestrating many of Eddie's hits including, most notably, "Go Man Go." In 1950, Al teamed with Bill Wapotich to produce the hit "Annabelle" with Al's sextet and a twelve-voice chorus. Achieving one of Billboard's highest ratings ever for a Cleveland recording, "Annabelle" was played every fiteen minutes for a week by Norman Wain on WDOK radio. Al and Bill also discovered the internationally famous Pony Tails, producing "Your Wild Heart" and launching their career. Broadening his experience, Al plaved with the Russ Harmon and Russ Carlyle big bands and worked for Bill Randld backing stars including Tony Bennett, Elvis Presley, the Everly Brothers, Theresa Brewer, and Johnny Ray.

The Al Tercek Orchestra recorded "Let's Polka," a joint venture with th Ray Champa Orchestra featuring Tercek's "Gaiety Polka," "Fritz's Polka," "Tribute to Matt,"--- the one with the infamous (naughty?) cover--- and "Polka Power" with a memorable version of Avsenik's "Wind Song." The Tercek Orchestra appeared frequently on TV's Old Dutch Polka Revue and Polka Varieties.

Al recorded with the Frank Novak Polka All-Stars, Georgie Cook, Jimmy Kozel, and Duke Marsic and has appeared with the Polka Hall of Fame All-Star Band in Awards Show III and at fundraisers in Milwaukee and Cleveland. A founding member of the Polkats Social Club and a Trustee of the American-Slovenian Polka Foundation, Al was honored as Collinwood's Musician of the Year in 1971 and has been cited as a primary influence by Cleveland-Style drummers Dave Wolnik, Jack Tady, Harry Faint, and Mark Habat.
Dubbed the "Personality Kid" by Kenny Bass, Al has always represented Cleveland-Style music with friendliness, sophistication, and the utmost of class.


Inducted in 1995

National Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame


Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient




1926 - 2004  © National Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum, 605 East 222nd Street, Euclid, OH 44123, USA.










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