National Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum
605 East 222nd Street Euclid, OH 44123
Toll Free: 1-800-66POLKA
Al Tercek set the pace for Cleveland-Style Polka drummers, providing the catalyst
that would transform ethnic folk songs into commercially viable dance music. Developing
patterns and riffs that became endemic to Cleveland-Style rhythm sections, Al played
with virtually all of Cleveland-Style's greats, led his own orchestra for over 40
years, and exerted strong influence over a talented corps of Cleveland-Style drummers
who would follow.
A fixture around the bandstand at Collinwood Slovenian Home, Al studied drums under
Charlie Wilcoxin, played with the Joe Lasicky Trio at age twelve, joined Frank Yankovic's
Orchestra at fourteen, and became Johnny Vadnal's drummer during World War II. Afterward,
Al toured the Midwest with Joe Sodja's Cavalcade of Golf variety shows.
and guided by Kenny Bass in the studio, Al added zip to the Decca recordings of the
Sokach-Habat Tunemixers and Eddie Habat in the late 1940s and, later, the majority
of Bass' recordings for Coral, Decca, and Roulette. The Tunemixers' 1949 recording
of "Blue Skirt Waltz" sold over 700,000 copies and landed them their own weekly radio
show with Howie Lund. With the Habat Orchestra, Al played an important role in orchestrating
many of Eddie's hits including, most notably, "Go Man Go." In 1950, Al teamed with
Bill Wapotich to produce the hit "Annabelle" with Al's sextet and a twelve-voice
chorus. Achieving one of Billboard's highest ratings ever for a Cleveland recording,
"Annabelle" was played every fiteen minutes for a week by Norman Wain on WDOK radio.
Al and Bill also discovered the internationally famous Pony Tails, producing "Your
Wild Heart" and launching their career. Broadening his experience, Al plaved with
the Russ Harmon and Russ Carlyle big bands and worked for Bill Randld backing stars
including Tony Bennett, Elvis Presley, the Everly Brothers, Theresa Brewer, and Johnny
The Al Tercek Orchestra recorded "Let's Polka," a joint venture with th Ray Champa
Orchestra featuring Tercek's "Gaiety Polka," "Fritz's Polka," "Tribute to Matt,"---
the one with the infamous (naughty?) cover--- and "Polka Power" with a memorable
version of Avsenik's "Wind Song." The Tercek Orchestra appeared frequently on TV's
Old Dutch Polka Revue and Polka Varieties.
Al recorded with the Frank Novak Polka
All-Stars, Georgie Cook, Jimmy Kozel, and Duke Marsic and has appeared with the Polka
Hall of Fame All-Star Band in Awards Show III and at fundraisers in Milwaukee and
Cleveland. A founding member of the Polkats Social Club and a Trustee of the American-Slovenian
Polka Foundation, Al was honored as Collinwood's Musician of the Year in 1971 and
has been cited as a primary influence by Cleveland-Style drummers Dave Wolnik, Jack
Tady, Harry Faint, and Mark Habat. Dubbed the "Personality Kid" by Kenny Bass, Al
has always represented Cleveland-Style music with friendliness, sophistication, and
the utmost of class.