Walter Ostanek is a living legend in the world of polka music. He is known to many as Canada's Polka King -- a title he has well-earned. During more than four long decades as a professional performer, he has made somewhere over 50 recordings, and earned a number of Grammy Awards and nominations. He has also been inducted into the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame and the International Polka Hall of Fame, both as a Lifetime Achievement Honoree.
Ostanek was born in Duperquet, Quebec, in the spring of 1935 as Ladislav John Ostanek. His parents, both from Yugoslavia, moved the small family to St. Catharines, Ontario, about the same time young Ostanek started school. With a natural love for music, he began playing the button diatonic accordion when he was only nine. Before he reached his teens, he moved on to a piano accordion. He excelled with the instrument.
When Ostanek was 16 he put together his first band. The group landed small gigs, playing a mixture of country & western polkas. After polishing his skills for a couple more years, he moved on to a radio show called "Abbie Andrews & his Canadian Ranch Boys." He performed with the act a number of times a week until about 1956 when he left to form the Walter Ostanek Band.
In 1963, Ostanek completed his debut album, Gay Continental Dance Party. If anyone thought the young accordion player was going to be no more than a short-lived flash of fame, they were very wrong. Ostanek went on to have his own long-running radio program, as well as his own television series like It's Polka Time and Polka Party.
In the '70s and '80s, between working on a string of recordings, Ostanek toured through many countries including Austria and Italy. He still found time to perform on numerous popular television shows like the Phil Donohue Show, Lawrence Welk, and the Johnny Carson Show. During this time he earned several awards and gold records.
In the '90s, albums still appeared from the musician. A few of the many full-length recordings Ostanek has released over the years are Yearning for Polkas and Waltzes, Accordionally Yours, Instrumental Button Box Classics with Canada's Polka King, On Our Way for More Non-Stop Dancing, Music and Friends, Continental Dance Party With Walter Ostanek & Band, Memories Polkas and Waltzes, Just for You, and As Time Goes By. ~ Charlotte Dillon