National Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum
605 East 222nd Street Euclid, OH 44123
Toll Free: 1-800-66POLKA
Every time he picks up his accordion and plays, Hank Thunander pays tribute to his
idol, Frank Yankovic. For nearly half a century, Hank has led one of the top Cleveland-Style
polka bands in the Upper Midwest. Fans enjoy his energetic polka sound, but Hank
also can put across a big-band, light-rock or country tune. His versatility has earned
him frequent invitations to festivals, clubs and ballrooms with an average of 300
appearances a year.
Hank was raised in the Gogebic Range of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, near the
border of Minnesota’s Iron Range. As a youngster he was fascinated with Yankovic’s
happy music and took up the accordion. A dream came true when, at age 10, America’s
Polka King brought Hank on stage to play along with him. Hank led bands in high school
and the Army before settling in St. Paul, Minnesota. Another dream was realized in
1970, when he was invited to record with Yankovic. Since then, Hank has released
eight albums of his own.
Some of the entertainers he accompanied include Lawrence Welk favorites Myron Floren
and Joann Castle. From 1972 to 1981, Hank hosted a weekly radio show on WMIN, featuring
Slovenian-style polkas. He organized polka tours to Europe, Hawaii, the Caribbean
and Alaska. For his contributions to music, Hank has been honored by the Ironwood
Hall of Fame, the Michigan Polka Music Hall of Fame, and the Minnesota Accordion
Club. He received the Lifetime Award from the Mid-America Music Hall of Fame.