National Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum
605 East 222nd Street Euclid, OH 44123
Toll Free: 1-800-66POLKA
Tony Vadnal, bassist and lead vocalist with the VADNAL ORCHESTRA for nearly 60 years,
has been one of Cleveland-Style Polkas' consummate entertainers. Beyond his considerable
musical skills, Tony's performances have always projected the warmth, friendliness,
and fun that characterize Cleveland-Style music.
Accompanied by his sister, Valeria, Tony was at the inception of the Vadnal legend,
playing violin at age five and performing at eleven. Shortly thereafter, brothers
Johnny and Frankie joined them, and, under the tutelage of their musically gifted
mother, Anna Vadnal, they toured through Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Illinois
as the Vadnal Quartet. In 1936, Tony, now playing bass, formed the Vadnal Reveliers,
who appeared in the Slovenian Village of the Great Lakes Exposition in Cleveland
in 1937. Upon entering the service in 1942, Tony turned over leadership of the band
to brother Johnny.
Tony earned his stripes with many of Cleveland's finest orchestras including Vic
Intihar, Chuck Smith, John Trinko, John Urankar, Johnny Pecon, Lou Trebar, and Bobby
Timko. Tony played regularly with Pecon and Dr. William J. "Doc" Lausche in the Lausche
Trio, accompanying the Lausche/Udovich vocal duet.
Of course, Tony's crowning achievements were with the Vadnal Orchestra. One of Cleveland-Style
Polkas' premier broadcasters, the Vadnals appeared weekly on their own TV show, "Polka
Parade," from 1949-61, from the Bostner Bowl Ballroom on Mutual Network radio through
the 1950s, and regularly on the "Old Dutch Polka Revue" and "Polka Varieties" television
shows. Throughout the U.S.A., Tony's engaging smile and personality were at the forefront
of this thoroughly professional organization, inviting everyone to "Join the Fun"
as he swayed his bass from side to side in rhythm with the music.
From 1968-82, under Richie Vadnal, the Vadnals became the most travelled Cleveland-Style
band by far. In addition to eight tours of Slovenia and five Caribbean cruises, Tony
co-hosted polka tours to Italy, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Mexico, Hawaii, Las
Vegas, and Nashville. In Slovenia they became the first Cleveland-Style orchestra
to record on location and to make television shows for broadcast in Europe.
Tony recorded over 25 albums and 150 singles for RCA Victor, Imperial, Camden, Mlay,
Delta, Cuca, Helidon, Jay Jay, and One M including Frank Novak's Polka All Star Albums.
Tony's most notable vocal recordings include "Yes, Dear," "Teach Me How to Yodel,"
"Two-Timing You," "No Beer on Sunday," "I'll Wait for You," "It Thrills Me So," "Mountain
Climber," and "Slovenian Picnic Waltz."
Since retiring in 1990, Tony has performed at hospitals, nursing homes, senior citizen
gatherings, as a member of the Holmes Hall Buttonaires, and for other charitable
causes including the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame.