Whoopee John

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John Anthony Wilfahrt, (May 11, 1893 – June 15, 1961), the eldest son of John Wilfahrt and Barbara Portner, was a professional polka musician who recorded with Vocalion and from 1934, Decca. He went by the moniker "Whoopee John." Wilfahrt was born in New Ulm, Minnesota and got his start playing the accordion at local gatherings and concerts in and around his community. In the 1920s Whooppee John and his band relocated to Saint Paul, Minnesota where they became regulars at live shows and on the radio. Wilfahrt first began recording commercially in the 1920s and would sign with the newly formed U.S. division of Decca Records in 1934 as the label's second act. (The first act signed to the label being Bing Crosby.) "Whooppee John Wilfahrt and his band enjoyed popularity through the 1940s and 50s on the polka circuit. Over the course of his professional career Wilfahrt would record nearly 1,000 songs, some of the most popular being “Mariechen Waltz” and “Clarinet Polka.”

He died in 1961 at age 68 years of a heart attack.

References[edit]

"Some Wilfahrt Tales" by Jeff Wilfahrt, 1998, on record with Brown County Minnesota Historical Society.