Many Cleveland Seniors will know the name Frankie Yankovic. Yankovic was world famous as the Polka King.
He won the first Grammy Award for Polka Music and hits such as "Just Because" and the "Blue Skirt Waltz" helped him sell millions of records all over the world.
Though that may sum up Yankovic to some people, there is much more to the story. And Bob Dolgan is the best person to tell that story.
Not only is Dolgan an excellent writer (his career at the Plain Dealer generated many awards) but he is Slovenian (as is Yankovic) and he grew up attending the polka dances in his neighborhood. His father was even once a boarder at Yankovic's house.
And Dolgan is the absolute best author for this book because he wrote the autobiography of Frank Yankovic with Yankovic himself back in 1977.
As Dolgan says, "In that book, Frank was telling his story. This time, I'm telling the story. When you're telling your own story, naturally, you're going to be emphasizing the good points and diminishing all the bad points."
Don't expect Dolgan's book America's Polka King: The Real Story of Frankie Yankovic and His Music to be a tabloid tell-all set out to embarrass someone who can't fight back from the grave. As Dolgan said, "I tried to be fair and give a balanced view of his life according to what his family and musicians and associates told me."
Anyone with an interest in polka music will thoroughly enjoy this book. But it also tells a great story of Cleveland, Slovenians and the music industry. Not to mention the intrigue of a very colorful life that included 3 wives, a son who stabbed himself to death and another son in prison.
One wonders how Yankovic could be a kleptomaniac and charged with shoplifting while playing the "happiest music on earth."
Wonder no more. Dolgan tells a great story beginning with a visit to the nursing home where longtime Yankovic band mate banjo player Georgie Cook declares, "I hate Yankovic."
The book ends with a complete Frankie Yankovic discography.
Next to popping a polka CD (Cleveland-style polka of course) in the car and driving to the Polka Hall of Fame in Euclid, this book is the next best thing to get a real feel for the man and his music.