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


Eddie Habat led one of the five outstanding, Cleveland-based orchestras that achieved national prominence recording and performing Cleveland-Style Polkas and Waltzes. Like Frank Yankovic, Johnny Pecon, Johnny Vadnal, and Kenny Bass, Eddie drew upon his Slovenian musical heritage in developing a unique orchestral style that enjoyed widespread appeal.


Eddie began playing accordion at age seven, listening intently to Heinie Martin Antoncic's radio transcriptions of Joe Sodja, Pecon, and Yankovic and duplicating what he heard. By age eleven, Eddie was playing for weddings and parties. Progressing musically, Eddie learned much from the works of Dr. William J. "Doc" Lausche and was strongly influenced by Matt Hoyer.


Buttressed by allocades from Hoyer, Lausche, and Pecon, Eddie's reputation as a Cleveland-Style accordionist flourished. In 1942, at age sixteen, Eddie was asked to lead the Johnny Pecon Orchestra while Pecon was in the Navy. In 1948, after his own stint in the Navy, Eddie teamed up with Pete Sokach and Kenny Bass to form the Habat-Sokach Tunemixers, achieving a #1 rating on their weekly Cleveland radio show on WSRS and recording eight hit tunes for Decca, three of them original Habat compositions.


Soon after, Eddie formed the Eddie Habat Orchestra which went on to become one of the country's most successful Cleveland-Style bands. During thirteen years under contract with Decca, the Habat Orchestra made over 150 internationally distributed recordings, some of which were advertised in "Billboard, " the music industry's trade publication. Eddie's original "Go Man Go" polka sold 50,000 copies in its first two weeks, was recorded by Russ Morgan, and was called "the best football song of its time" by Bill Randle, one of the nation's top disc jockeys. The Habat Orchestra performed throughout the Midwest and in Western Pennsylvania, starred on its own television show on WEWS in 1955, and appeared frequently on the "Old Dutch Polka Revue" and "Polka Varieties. "


Eddie has influenced many Cleveland-Style accordionists, and over twenty-five of his compositions, including "Riverboat Polka," "Hi Lee, Hi Lo," and "Strawberry Hill Polka, " have been recorded by others. Eddie was named Ohio's Polka King in 1949, Collinwood's Polka Prince in 1970 and Man of the Year in 1972, and POPP's Man of the Year in 1988. In 1981, Chris Kotsos, former Cleveland-Style bandleader, coaxed Eddie from retirement, collaborating with him to produce "From the Heart," an outstanding reprise of the Habat legacy.


As Bob Dolgan of the Cleveland Plain Dealer put it, "Nobody could turn on the emotion like Habat. He gave you the impression he would gladly play for free."


Inducted in 1991

National Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame


Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient




1926 - 2005  © National Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum, 605 East 222nd Street, Euclid, OH 44123, USA.










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