National Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum
605 East 222nd Street Euclid, OH 44123
Toll Free: 1-800-66POLKA
Johnny Pecon's extraordinary musicianship set a standard of excellence to which virtually
all Cleveland-Style Polka artists have aspired. Over 29 years, the Johnny Pecon Orchestra
featuring Lou Trebar (an outstanding musician in his own right) was renowned for
its quality, sophistication, and class. As the first polka band to venture seriously
beyond the realm of polkas, the Pecon Orchestra easily transcended the constraints
of instrumentation in executing classical, pop, jazz, and show music with endemic
Johnny began playing the chromatic accordion at age five and formed his first band
as a teen. Johnny recorded on Continental Records in 1942 with Cleveland's Dr. William
"Doc" Lausche, an extremely talented composer, arranger, ragtime pianist, and dentist
(by trade). After serving in the Navy, Johnny began his association with Lou Trebar
in 1946, followed by two years with the Frankie Yankovic Orchestra during which "Just
Because" and "Blue Skirt Waltz" were recorded.
Opting for a more family-oriented life, Johnny teamed up with Trebar for good in
1949 and went on to establish an impressive Cleveland-based career. In 1951, while
playing as often as 20 times per week, the Pecon-Trebar Orchestra decimated 24 contenders
in a Cleveland polka band popularity contest, amassing over one-third of the 40,000
votes cast. John and Lou's famous Janez and Lojze routine, which delighted audiences
everywhere, was ultimately responsible for the Button Box revolution that later stormed
the Cleveland-Style Polka scene.
Johnny's television credits include his own "Perme Polka Time," "Trimor Furniture,"
and "TV Auction Party" series as well as guest appearances on the "Old Dutch Polka
Revue" and "Polka Varieties. " Ratings for the "Perme" show sometimes rivaled those
of "I Love Lucy. The Pecon Orchestra appeared on CBS prime time in 1956 on Arthur
Godfrey's "Talent Scouts" show and, winning decisively, guested for an additional
week on Godfrey's morning radio and TV shows. The Pecon Orchestra's recording career
included five years with Capital Records, ten with Dana Records, and five with Delta
Johnny Pecon had a unique ability to charge even the simplest tunes with electricity.
A musician's musician, Johnny treated every song with the utmost care and respect.
It was not unusual for crowds to form around the Pecon bandstand and stare as Johnnv
effortlessly played with breathtaking skill and dexterity. All the while, subtleties
bordering on genius were lost on all but the most discerning observers.
The essence of Johnny's talent is captured in a compliment once paid by the great
jazz saxaphonist, Bud Freeman, to a guitarist while he was improvising an unusually
intricate and difficult solo. Bud leaned over and whispered, "That can't be done."