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


Amid the musical talent abounding in the Vadnal family, Frank Vadnal may well have had the most. Virtuoso banjoist and guitarist, vocalist, composer, arranger, translator, teacher, promoter, and a key member of the Vadnal Orchestra for over 50 years, Frankie Vadnal was the architect of the vocal harmonies that set the Vadnals apart.


Like his famous siblings, Frank began his musical career early, studying under Joe Sodja and Frank Ovanin from age nine. With brothers Tony and Johnny and sister Valeria, Frank was a charter member of Anna Vadnal's Vadnal Quartet, performing during the mid-1930s in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Illinois, and headlining their own concert at Slovenian Workmen's Home to a packed house. Frank performed with the Vadnal Reveliers in the Slovenian Village at the Great Lakes Exposition in 1937. Active in the performing arts, Frank belonged to the Anton Verovsek Dramatic Club, Sokols gymnasts, and singing and dramatic groups as a National Honor Society student at Collinwood High School.


Like most successful Cleveland-Style journeymen, Frank gained respect and experience with name Cleveland-Style orchestras including Pete Sokach, Chuck Smith, Johnny Pecon, Al Tercek, Eddie Habat, Kenny Bass, Ray Champa, Milan Rakonovic, Joe Luzar, and Joey Miskulin after breaking in with local accordionists Edward Kovach and Frank and Ed Barbic.


Throughout the Vadnal Orchestra's glory years, Frank was at the band's nerve center, devising the unique banjo and guitar treatments that placed the Vadnals at the creative edge of Cleveland-Style music in performances across the United States. Frank's originality graces compositions including "String-A-Ling," "Little Theme," and "Happy Guitar" (aka "Jukebox"). Paying meticulous attention to pronunciation and diction, Frank and collaborator Jack Tomsic translated tunes such as "Summer Wind" and "La Paloma" into popular Slovenian renditions while Anglicizing original Slovenian Iyrics.


Frank broadcast with the Vadnals from the Bowl Ballroom on the Mutual Broadcasting System during the 1950s, the Vadnals"'Polka Parade" television shows from 1949-61, "Polka Varieties," "Old Dutch Polka Revue," and their breakthrough TV performances in Slovenia. Frank's stylings were captured in over 150 recordings on RCA Victor, Imperial, Decca, Camden, Mlay, Delta, Cuca, Helidon (Europe), One M, and Jay Jay. With brothers Richie and Tony, Frank co-hosted eight polka tours to Slovenia, tours to Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Mexico, Hawaii, Las Vegas, and Nashville, and five cruises to the Caribbean. Frank was the first banjo player to play Cleveland-Style music in Slovenia, introducing this exciting dimension to the native music.


Always known as the "Quiet Vadnal," Frank was content to shun the limelight in favor of his brothers. Discounting his own role, Frank summarized his own career accomplishments by simply deferring to the Vadnal family's rich legacy and saying, "I was there."


Inducted in 1993

National Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame


Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient




1921 - 1996  © National Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum, 605 East 222nd Street, Euclid, OH 44123, USA.










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