National Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum
605 East 222nd Street Euclid, OH 44123
Toll Free: 1-800-66POLKA
Gaylord Klancnik was a leading Cleveland-Style bandleader for 40 years and earned
the title of Michigan's Polka King. He was a perennial nominee for awards by members
of the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame and was also inducted into the
Michigan Polka Music Hall of Fame in 1999.
A performance by Frankie Yankovic at the Slovenian Home in Detroit fascinated four-year-old
Gaylord. The next week his parents purchased a 12-bass accordion. Teacher Matt Pink
led him toward the Cleveland-style of polka music. Gaylord began playing in Detroit
bands as a college student. With his brother Ken, he organized the Klancnik Brothers
Orchestra, a fan and festival favorite from 1976 to 1996. The band received a trophy
proclaiming them as Michigan’s Best Polka Band. Gaylord was also a founding member
and president of the Slovene American Club Button Box Band based in Melvindale.
In 1996, he formed the Gaylord Klancnik Orchestra, with his son Ed on drums, banjo
and guitar. The group toured three continents and recorded several projects. Gaylord
even appeared in a skit on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno. His long association
with Canada’s Polka King, Walter Ostanek, included appearances on two Grammy-winning
albums and ten nominated ones. Their joint collaboration, “Polkas United,” was released
near the time of his tragic death in 2005.