Lawrence Welk was an American musician, accordionist, bandleader, and television impresario, hosting The Lawrence Welk Show from 1955 to 1982. His style came to be known to his large number of radio, television, and live-performance fans as “champagne music.”
Welk was born in the German-speaking community of Strasburg, North Dakota. He was sixth of the eight children of Ludwig and Christiana Welk, ethnic Germans who immigrated to America in 1892 from Odessa, Ukraine, which was then part of the Russian Empire.
The family lived on a homestead, which today is a tourist attraction. They spent the cold North Dakota winter of their first year under an upturned wagon covered in sod.
Welk decided on a career in music, and convinced his father to buy a mail-order accordion for $400. He promised his father that he would work on the farm until he was 21, in repayment for the accordion. Any money he made elsewhere during that time, doing farmwork or performing, would go to his family.