Monday, December 11, 2006

Jerry Burke

If you ever wondered where the "sparkle" in the Champagne Music comes from, you can bet your bottom dollar that it must have come from the magic fingertips of pianist/organist Jerry Burke!

Born in Marshalltown, Iowa on July 26, 1911...he grew up in Aberdeen, South Dakota where he spent his early days learning the piano and the organ. Jerry was only 23 years old when he was hired by Lawrence Welk to play in his orchestra, which by then was doing one-nighters all over the Midwest and based out of radio station WNAX in Yankton, South Dakota.

By the time the music makers made their ABC network debut in 1955, Jerry at 44 years of age was already the "grandpappy" of the music makers. He was a master at the Hammond organ and the Novachord, and released several solo albums of his work. In 1959, he became the first member of the twenty-five year club, which in later years would include Barney Liddell, Orie Amodeo, Myron Floren and Dick Dale.

He passed away from cancer on Feburary 13, 1965...having spent 31 years in the orchestra, but what a bubbly and sparkly ride it was!


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