National Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum
605 East 222nd Street Euclid, OH 44123
Toll Free: 1-800-66POLKA
Richie Vadnal, the youngest of the Vadnal brothers, played an integral role in building
the Cleveland-Style music legacy of the Vadnal family. Steeped in the family’s musical
tradition, Richie began his relationship with the accordion at age four under the
tutelage of his mother, Anna Vadnal, and later studied with Joey Trolli, Tops Cardone,
and Pico Pallotta.
Leading his own award-winning band as a teen, Richie appeared regularly on radio,
television, and the circuit of engagements adjunct to Cleveland’s Slovenian cultural
community. In 1954, Richie traveled the United States with Frank Yankovic, America’s
Polka King, and performed with the popular Three Sons trio during the 1960’s.
over the Johnny Vadnal Orchestra in 1966, Richie led the band through a new era in
which they became Cleveland-Style Polkas’ leading exponent of the "Polka Tour." With
all the band members and their wives providing a personal touch, Richie and the Vadnals
hosted seven tours to Slovenia, encompassing appearances in Austria, Italy, Hungary,
and Germany; three to Hawaii; three to Mexico; and three cruises to the Caribbean.
In addition, the Vadnals often incorporated tour groups with their appearances throughout
the continental U.S., including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, California,
Tennessee, Minnesota, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, and Nevada, and
Under Richie’s leadership, the Vadnals went far beyond merely serving as
mere musical tour guides during their travels. As Cleveland-Style ambassadors, the
Vadnals aggressively put Cleveland-Style Polkas in the spotlight, appearing live
and in documentaries of Slovenian radio and television; recording four LP albums
in Europe for Helidon; being featured in "Stop," Slovenia’s equivalent of "Billboard"
magazine, and in other European periodicals; and appearing annually before thousands
at the July 4th Immigrants’ Picnic in Skofja Loka, Slovenia. Achieving international
celebrity, Richie became known simply as "Mr. Richie" throughout Slovenia.
the United States, Richie and the Vadnal Orchestral were mainstays on the syndicated
"Polka Varieties" television show through the 1970’s and ‘80’s, and cut a total of
ten LP albums and many singles for Helidon, Mlay, Normandy (Ray Gay), Cuca, Delta
International, CBV, and Peppermint Records. Among the band’s most popular recorded
hits are "Ta Glazek je Prazen," "Henry the VIII, I Am," "Love," featuring Bill Srnick,
Sr., "Polka Your Troubles Away," "Look My Way," and "No Beer Today."
Richie was honored
as Collinwood Slovenian Home’s Musician of the Year in 1990. Although his Cleveland-Style
career was cut short by a stroke suffered in 1982, Richie Vadnal’s many contributions
during sixteen short years at the helm of the Vadnal Orchestra stand proudly in the
annals of Cleveland-Style Polkas.