National Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum
605 East 222nd Street Euclid, OH 44123
Toll Free: 1-800-66POLKA
Georgie Cook spun his banjo magic for over 65 years spanning eight decades beginning
in the 1920s. A master of America's only native instrument, Georgie performed as
a soloist, Cleveland-Style bandleader, sideman, and teacher. A successful composer,
Georgie saw over fifty of his tunes recorded.
In 1926, fascinated with the stylings of banjo great, Eddie Peabody, Georgie worked
at a newspaper stand and sold scrap to earn the $50 his family could not afford for
a banjo. Unable to finance weekly lessons, Georgie persuaded Peabody to increase
the workload between monthly sessions. Georgie played his first professional job,
a stage show, in 1928 and became a regular on WHK radio after only one appearance
on its weekly variety show.
Georgie served his apprenticeship accompanying polka pioneer Matt Hoyer and Cleveland-Style
tavern accordionists Shorty Kalister and Valentine Turk. Georgie was with Frank Yankovic
during his heyday from 1946 to 1951, barnstorming the nation and recording the million
seller hits, "Just Because" and "Blue Skirt Waltz," for Columbia.
Georgie formed his own orchestra in 1951, the first to incorporate the organ, creating
a unique, innovative sound. Enjoying wide popularity, the band recorded with Decca
for ten years releasing 45 singles and two LP albums; performed regionally throughout
the Midwest, in Pennsylvania and New York; hosted their own television show, "Polka
Date', and guested on the "Old Dutch Polka Revue," the Style Crest shows, and "Polka
As a soloist, Georgie traveled the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Europe, performing
in vaudeville; at night clubs, amusement parks, and festivals; on cruise ships; in
dixieland bands; and in ballrooms, sharing the stage with stars such as the INK SPOTS
and the FOUR ACES. In 1956, Georgie was a winner on CBS' ''Arthur Godfrey's Talent
Georgie enjoyed a prolific career as a featured artist, performing with virtually
all of Cleveland's famous orchestras, recording with Kenny Bass, Eddie Habat, Joe
Kusar, and other Cleveland-based bands, and with Dennis Tatimor and Walter Ostanek
of Canada. Georgie recorded an LP album backed by the Norm Knuth Orchestra on Delta,
and was featured prominently on record and in person with Ernie Benedict and the
George Staiduhar Orchestra.
Giving generously of himself, Georgie entertained our troops overseas during World
War II and has made countless charity and benefit appearances. He has performed with
most of Cleveland's button box clubs and became a member of the Holmes Hall Buttonaires.
Georgie was honored as "Musician of the Year" by the Collinwood Slovenian Home in
Georgie's most popular tunes include the "Keystone Polka," "Five Points Polka, "
and "Where Did Robinson Crusoe Go with Friday on Saturday Night?''