Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients

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Klancnik, Gaylord

Gaylord Klancnik was a leading Cleveland-Style bandleader for 40 years and earned the title of Michigan's Polka King. He was a perennial nominee for awards by members of the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame and was also inducted into the Michigan Polka Music Hall of Fame in 1999.

A performance by Frankie Yankovic at the Slovenian Home in Detroit fascinated four-year-old Gaylord. The next week his parents purchased a 12-bass accordion.  Teacher Matt Pink led him toward the Cleveland-style of polka music. Gaylord began playing in Detroit bands as a college student. With his brother Ken, he organized the Klancnik Brothers Orchestra, a fan and festival favorite from 1976 to 1996. The band received a trophy proclaiming them as Michigan’s Best Polka Band. Gaylord was also a founding member and president of the Slovene American Club Button Box Band based in Melvindale.

In 1996, he formed the Gaylord Klancnik Orchestra, with his son Ed on drums, banjo and guitar. The group toured three continents and recorded several projects. Gaylord even appeared in a skit on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno. His long association with Canada’s Polka King, Walter Ostanek, included appearances on two Grammy-winning albums and ten nominated ones. Their joint collaboration, “Polkas United,” was released near the time of his tragic death in 2005.
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