National Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum
605 East 222nd Street Euclid, OH 44123
Toll Free: 1-800-66POLKA
Frankie Spetich staked out the Magic City of Barberton, Ohio, as the province over
which he would shine as a beacon of Cleveland-Style Polkas. Over sixty years, "Barberton's
Polka King" assumed the roles of musician, bandleader, songwriter, radio personality,
teacher, and promoter of the Slovenian culture he nearly shunned as a young child
assimilating American society.
Mastering clarinet and trumpet and singing with the Slovenian Godba group as a youth,
Frank started his first polka band in 1941. Returning from the service in 1946 seasoned
by a big band regimen, Frank formed the Melody Makers with brother John and Frank
Zupec, his drummer until his passing in 1991. The band became the Frankie Spetich
Orchestra in 1949 when Frank became its accordionist.
Beginning in 1953, Frank cut twenty-two singles and sixteen albums on the Q-Cue,
Spotlight, and Peppermint labels, incorporating the "Ding Dong Polka," "Pony Tail
Polka," and over 35 additional Spetich compositions. Apart from his own groups, Frank
cut with Ted Zalac, Al Barker, and Walter Ostanek.
The Spetich Orchestra appeared regularly throughout the Midwest and Pennsylvania
with a heavy dose of bookings at Cleveland's polka hotspots during the 1960's. Later
excursions took Frank to Europe five times, California, Arizona and the Caribbean.
The band was a frequent guest on Johnny Vadnal's "Polka Parade," and appeared on
the "Polka Varieties" and "Stylecrest" TV shows.
Barberton's premiere Cleveland-Style Polka promoter, Frank sold out jam sessions
featuring Cleveland's top orchestras from 1957 through 1982 at Barbeton's Slovene
Ballroom where he served as President from 1989 to 1991 and manager from 1969 to
1982. As important, Frank made music visits to old age homes and many other charitable
Frank began his broadcast career in 1953 with a live band show on WCUE in Akron and
continued with his "Slovenian Melodies" program on stations WUAP, WZIP, and WAPS
in Akron beginning in 1982.
Frank's impact has been multiplied many times over through the students he has tutored
on accordion, button box, trumpet, trombone, saxophone, clarinet, flute, guitar and
bass since 1949. A music teacher at St. John's Grade School in Akron, St. Mary's
Grade School in Wooster, and Akron St. Vincent School, Frank opened his Magic City
Music Store in 1957 where he took on as many as 100 students at a time.
Cultivating the fruits of his labor and utilizing his considerable talents as a button
box artist, Frank founded and led the Magic City Button Box Showcase. Frank also
developed an innovative tutorial for button box published by Keyboard Cue Corporation
Among his many awards, Frank was honored for his fifty years of musical service by
the Medina Area Chamber of Commerce in 1987 at the 10th Annual Medina Oktoberfest.