National Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum
605 East 222nd Street Euclid, OH 44123
Toll Free: 1-800-66POLKA
Jack Tady has kept a pulsating rhythm in polkas since he was fourteen years old.
As a bandleader and drummer, Tady may have changed the name of the band and the musicians
in it, but the beat has always been steady.
He started out in 1952 with Jack Tady and the Russ Slovenes, the Jack Lads/Polka
Lads, and Jack Tady's Swingin' Laddies. In 1973, the name changed to the Jack Tady
Bears, the JTB, and now Jack and his Tady Bears. But the title Tady likes the most
is "Western Pennsylvania's Polka King." Radio listeneres of Bill Seles' Polka Show
voted Tady the honor in 1968. He was thrilled that Polka King Frankie Yankovic was
on hand to crown him.
Jack was born in Russellton, Pennsylvania to Anna and John Tady, who were of Croation
and Serbian descent. He joins his brother Richard "Dick" Tady as a Lifetime Achievement
inductee in the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame. Tady's other sibiling,
Rita, is Dick's twin sister.
Slovenian polka music was the music of choice in the Tady household while Jack was
growing up. He and his friends would gather near the stage of the former West View
Park in Pittsburgh each summer to listen to their polka idols - Frankie Yankovic,
Kenny Bass, Eddie Habat, Johnny Vadnal and Walter Ostanek. Those musicians were his
inspiration to start a polka band of his own.
His first recording was a 45 rpm, featuring Millie's Polka and Jaken's Waltz. His
first album was "It's Terrific, It's Tady" on Mlay Records. He recently re-released
six albums on compact disc. Some of the polkas Tady popularized are "Popeye the Polkaman,"
Murone's Polka," and Skipper's Waltz."
As the "Buddy Rich of Polkas," the ever-smiling Tady has relied on talented accordion
players to carry the melody. John LaBorda was the accordionist with the Swingin'
Laddies. Benzie Rathbone joined the band in the Jack Tady Bears. Accordionists Tony
Zupanchick, Johnny Kusmierek, Fred Gregorich, Larry Placek and Rob Deblander have
all been leading accordion players in Tady's bands. He and his brother Dick joined
forces at one time in the Polka Lads.
Jack was delighted to play on five recordings with the Frankie Yankovic band, and
in a polka medley on Walter Ostanek's Grammy-nominated album of 1997. Jack and the
late Dave Wretschko combined talents on "Putting It All Together," an album nominated
in 1988 for Recording of the Year.
Tady added polka radio host duties to his repertoire in 1982. Jack Tady's Polka Place
has been on the air at WEDO 830AM, McKeesport, for 18 years. He, his wife Peggy,
and daughters Jackie and Maggie are part of the family-oriented show. He and Peggy
have one daughter each from previous marriages, two daughters from their marriage,
and reside in Cheswick, Pennsylvania.
Polka cruises with Tady and his band have taken the Polka Mass to the Caribbean,
where his band was the first to play the service on the high seas.
Jack has founded several polka groups: Western Pennsylvania Polka Pals and Gals,
United Musicians Polka Association of Pennsylvania (UMPAPA), People Encouraging Polkas
(P.E.P.) and the Satin Dolls.
Jack earned a Bachelor of Science degree in music education and English at Duquesne
University, and a master's equivalency in music. He rretired from public shcool music
in 1999 after 35 years of directing instrumental and vocal music in the Deer Lake
School District. But, retired means Tady is working as part-time director of instrumental
and vocal music at St. Edmund's Academy, Pittsburgh, and he teaches private lessons
in his home.