Grammy winner received NEA lifetime honor

Grammy Award-winning polka music great Eddie Blazonczyk died Monday of natural causes at a hospital in the Chicago suburb of Palos Heights. He was 70.

Blazonczyk was known as the “Polka King” and started his own polka music label in the 1960s. He retired in 2001 after having open-heart surgery.

The native Chicagoan was of Polish descent and started playing in the 1950s with Happy Eddie and his Polka Jesters. He went on to form the Versatones and tour the U.S., Canada and parts of Europe.

Blazonczyk was a founding member of the International Polka Assn., a disc jockey and a polka music promoter.

He won a Grammy in 1987 for Best Polka Recording for “Another Polka Celebration,” and in 1998 he received the National Endowment for the Arts’ National Heritage Fellowship.

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