Tuesday, April 1, 2008

In Crowd of the month: Lawrence Welk (1965)

Say what you will about that 'Champagne Music-Maker',
Lawrence Welk, but in addition to being tops in his chosen field, he was also an amazingly shrewd businessman.

Generally, pop hits had to have ripened for a few years and been given time to grow more palatable to his TV audience before he'd allow them to be played on his show.

- - But meanwhile, he was cranking out new LPs on a regular basis, many of them delivering still-current but sanitized versions of recent pop hits.

It was that kind of thinking that hepled make him ridiculously wealthy.

In addition to leveraging such album release angles, he also busily secured the royalty rights to thousands of songs, made massive real estate investments (including his own 'Champagne Music'-themed resort communities), and spun a very lucrative TV syndication deal;
When ABC cancelled his network program in 1971 after deciding that his audience was getting too old, Welk sold his show to hundreds of stations and continued production
for a further eleven years.

From the LP 'Today's Great Hits'
(Dot Records, 1965),
listen to:

Lawrence Welk and his Orchestra - The "In" Crowd
(click for audio)

See also:
- Lawrence Welk entry at All Music.Com and at Space Age Pop

- Welk Musical Family.Com fansite and blog page

- Click here for this entry and all the previous 'In Crowd of the month' posts together on one page.

A few of my favorite Welk images...
The green-jacketed pocket-pool photo at the top of this post is from a program for
Expo '74 in Spokane, Washington, at which Welk, his orchestra and 'musical family' performed.

This older shot to the left (from the cover of the April '56 issue of Radio & Television News) shows Welk adjusting the in-car phonograph of his 1956 Dodge!

For more on that chapter in audio archaeology, follow the links to:
'Highway Hi Fi: Where The Vinyl Meets The Road' at Ookworld, and a spotlight on Chrysler's models; 'It seemed like a good idea at the time'.

- - And finally, at right;

Tom Bertino's classic illustration accompanied his 1984 article on The Lawrence Welk Show that was included in the 6th issue of 'The Tuber's Voice', the official Couch Potato Newsletter.


brandy101 said...

My mom used to always giggle when Bobby was dancing...

I wonder why?

Anonymous said...

That's a pretty awesome arrangement of In Crowd - I certainly wouldn't guess it's Welk if I didn't know. I like the harpsichord and jangly electric guitar. What, no accordion?

Donna Lethal said...

Thank you, Joe Feeney, for a wonderful post.

Larry King, of all people, put it best when he interviewed Welk's son and grandson about the show and called it "oddly hypnotic."

cranched said...

Here's a classic song that snuck under the radar on the show:


pete said...

Oh my...that YouTube link is hilarious!

I used to love watching Welk reruns with my grandmother. The hairstyles/clothing would crack me up.

Freshly-stirred links