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Gerald M "Jerry" Darlak
Birth: Sep. 22, 1946
Chicago
Cook County
Illinois, USA
Death: Sep. 8, 2010
Buffalo
Erie County
New York, USA

Jerry Darlak played and recorded with many the nation's most prestigious polka bands in a career that spanned 37 years. He recorded over 600 songs on nearly 60 albums in his career, earning two Grammy awards. He performed across the continental U.S. and Hawaii, Canada, Poland, Germany, and Austria.

Born in Chicago, he began his musical career at age 7, playing drums. Jerry joined his first polka band at the age of 12 and, at age 14, formed his own band, The Lucky Stars.

At the age of 11, Jerry was inspired by the great polka legend, Li'l Wally Jagiello, to learn to play the concertina and, in 1962, at the age of 16, Jerry joined Li'l Richard Towalski's band as a concertina player. Shortly after, at the famous Caldwell Woods on Chicago's North Side, he was introduced to international polka star, Marion Lush. Learning that Lush's Musical Stars would soon be in need of a full-time drummer, Jerry auditioned. Lush was impressed with both the talent and enthusiasm that Jerry had to offer and chose the high school junior to be the back beat of the Musical Stars.

Jerry continued to play drums with Lush's band until 1965, when he was drafted into the U.S. Army. While stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, he flew back to Chicago on weekends to perform with the Lush orchestra. He also played drums with the 5th Army Band, which was assigned to Fort Hood. He soon received orders to be stationed in Germany.

With his duffel bag and mess kit came his concertina. As a member of the 7th U.S. Army, he auditioned for drummer with that division's band. He won the position and performed throughout Germany and parts of Europe. When it was learned that he was a full-time polka musician, and that he had brought his concertina with him, he soon was a featured artist with the group, playing Polish, German and other polkas at the Band's numerous shows.

After returning to the U.S. in 1967, Jerry reunited with Lush's Musical Stars and remained with them for the next decade.

In 1972, Jerry became a member of the award-winning Eddie Blazonczyk's Versatones. Like Lush, Blazonczyk's achievements and accomplishments were astonishing.

For the next 15-plus years, Jerry played concertina with the Versatones, as a full-time polka musician. Both the Versatones and Jerry chalked up countless awards, citations and other commendations for their sound and their dedication to the preservation and continuance of polka music.

In 1987, Jerry retired from the Versatones and moved to Cheektowaga, N.Y., a suburb of Buffalo, New York. Jerry was employed by the Town of Cheektowaga, and the administration of the Town's Annual Polish American Arts Festival soon learned of Jerry's move and asked him to be a member of the committee. The Polish American Arts Festival Committee sought Jerry's years of experience to make this already-highly successful event even more so. He also joined the Bellares, one of Buffalo's most respected polka groups, led by area polka legend "Big Steve" Krzeminski. He also played as a fill-in member of such groups as Lenny Gomulka's Chicago Push, The Ampol Aires, Li'l Wally, Jackie Libera's Classics, the Dyna-Tones and countless others. He was also a regular member of many ad hoc groups, such as Chet Kowalkowski's Polish Carolers, and the Polish American Journal's Polish Village Musicians.

In 1995, Jerry formed his own band, Jerry Darlak & The Touch. The band quickly became one of Buffalo's most popular orchestras, touring and playing concerts locally and nationwide and recording several very popular albums.

Jerry passed away peacefully in his sleep on Sept. 8, 2010, after a 6 month battle with throat cancer. He was survived by his brother, Randy, and wife, Filomena Darlak, of Chicago, sister, Lynn (Darlak) Cox and husband, Dave, of Chicago, his mother, Ida and step-father, Bob Schneider, of Chicago, and beloved friend, Joyce McIntyre, of NY, as well as Buffalo Touch band members: Ken Machelski, Mike Nowakowski, Gary Krupski, Ricky Pijanowski, and Tadj.

He was pre-deceased by his sister, Sue Zmuda, and by neices and nephew, Adrienne Guerraro, Lawrence and Alyssa Darlak. 
 
Burial:
Body donated to medical science
Specifically: Body Donated to University of Buffalo Medical Science Department
 
Created by: FDP
Record added: Aug 12, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 74808546
Gerald M Jerry Darlak
Added by: FDP
 
Gerald M Jerry Darlak
Added by: FDP
 
Gerald M Jerry Darlak
Added by: FDP
 
 
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Thank you for all the music, laughter and love. "See you on the other side."Love, Dar
- Dar
 Added: Sep. 28, 2015

- FDP
 Added: Dec. 26, 2012

- FDP
 Added: Dec. 25, 2011
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