Lawrence Welk was a bandleader, musician, accordion player, and a television impresario. He was the host and bandleader of the Lawrence Welk Show for 16 years.Early daysLawrence Welk was born on March 11, 1903, to Russian immigrants in Strasburg, North Dakota. The family spoke only German at home, so Lawrence did not learn English until he was in is early twenties.Lawrence was taught to play the accordian by his father. They played on the radio for free, to advertise where they were scheduled to perform.Career glimmersLawrence left home when he was 21 and founded the Hotsy Totsy Boys in 1927. It was followed by the Lawrence Welk Fruit Gum Orchestra. The orchestra gained in popularity and started performing thoughout the Dakotas and Minnesota. Radio jobs gave the band more exposure.In 1938, while they were performing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a radio announcer read a letter from a fan that said, “Listening to Welk's music is like sipping on champagne.” From that letter, the “Champagne Music of Lawrence Welk” was born. The band continued to tour America until Welk decided to settle in Los Angeles in the late '40s.On to televisionIn 1952, Welk began to produce “The Lawrence Welk Show” on KTLA TV in Los Angeles, and in 1955, the show aired nationally. In addition, the program's policy was to play only well-known music from previous years, so that the audience would only hear familiar numbers. Welk continually added new performers, and the results were more records on the Billboard top 100 weekly than any other big band during the era.Between 1960 and 1965, Welk's orchestra posted 12 charted albums. Welk managed to quickly strike a deal to have his show run in syndication, from 1971 to 1982.A one-woman manLawrence Welk was married to Fern Renner for more than sixty years. One of his sons, Lawrence Welk Jr., married one of the fellow “Lawrence Welk Show” performers, Tanya Falan.Welk died of pneumonia in 1992, in Santa Monica, California, at the age of 89. His remains rest in Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.Entertainment mecca Branson, Missouri, dedicated a theater to Lawrence Welk, where his band continues to appear. There also is a resort community near Escondido, California, named after Welk.Lawrence Welk was the recipient of North Dakota's Roughrider Award.