|Birth: ||Jun. 21, 1915|
|Death: ||Jan. 6, 2008|
One of polka music's most famous and influential musicians, Adolph Lesser, died this weekend in Greeley, his home of the past 65 years.
Mr. Lesser was born in Loveland in 1915, the son of Germanic-Russian immigrants. Mr. Lesser grew up in a household of music, and as a child would follow his musician brothers to weddings and dances. At 15, Mr. Lesser had his own band was played live on a Greeley radio station each morning at 6:30.
He rose to national prominence after World War II, popularizing a form of Germanic-Russian polka known in Colorado as Dutch Hop.
On Dec. 12, 1941, he married Cecilia Stratman in Kimball, Neb., and left for the Army on Jan. 7, 1942, exactly one month after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Initially stationed in California, Mr. Lesser entertained his fellow servicemen and also played in nightclubs with local West Coast groups. He was then deployed to the European Theater with the 35th Division until the war ended. He earned five battle stars including the Invasion of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge. The Queen Mary, now permanently docked in Long Beach, Calif., provided transportation home from Europe, and Mr. Lesser played with a western band for two shows a day on the ship.
After returning home from the war Mr. Lesser and a friend opened the Garden City Ballroom here, now an abandoned building on 7th Avenue, to play their increasingly popular style of music. In 1950, Mr. Lesser signed with Columbia records, making him the only polka musician in the region to sign on with a major record label in the 1950s. Mr. Lesser sold his ballroom during this time and built a music store on 8th Avenue in Greeley. Lesser Music was the cornerstone for young people from around northern Colorado who wanted to study the accordion. When the rock and roll craze hit, Mr. Lesser added guitar teachers and had a successful business selling guitars and amplifiers as well as accordions.
Mr. Lesser played with many notable musicians in his time, including Frank Yankovic, America's polka king, and several musicians from the Lawrence Welk Show.
Mr. Lesser received many honors throughout his musical career. He was inducted into the Colorado Polka Hall of Fame as the first living member in 1976. He was honored with the European-American Music Award for his lifetime achievements at the Grand Polka Festival in Las Vegas, Nev., in September 1999. He was inducted into the International Polka Hall of Fame in Chicago in August 2001 and also was inducted into the World of Music Hall of Fame in Las Vegas on Sept. 11, 2001.
Though he stopped playing music more than a decade ago due to a stroke, there are still several polka musicians and bands in the Rocky Mountain region playing the same music as the one they affectionately referred to as the "old master."
John David Lesser (1875 - 1956)
Anna Margaret Bath Lesser (1875 - 1960)
Cecilia Ann Stratman Lesser (1913 - 2006)*
John J Lesser (1897 - 1974)*
Anna Margaret Lesser Frank (1899 - 1987)*
Conrad Lesser (1900 - 1928)*
Henry J Lesser (1903 - 1947)*
Fredrick Lesser (1907 - 1964)*
George Lesser (1910 - 1986)*
Adolph John Lesser (1915 - 2008)
David Lesser (1917 - 1996)*
Sunset Memorial Gardens
Created by: Elaine McDowell
Record added: Jan 13, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 23932610