Lawrence Welk Played Champagne Music On TV For 31 Years

By Jacob Shelton
Lawrence Welk, singers in red, white and blue number, performing a salute to America on 'The Lawrence Welk Show'. (Photo by Walt Disney Television via Getty Images)

You could depend on the Lawrence Welk Show for 31 years -- like it or not. Lawrence Welk was a bandleader and host who delivered incredibly square entertainment, what he called "Champagne music," throughout the Groovy Era. Watching Lawrence Welk was like visiting a parallel universe where rock 'n roll had never been invented, and there was no problem so great that it couldn't be solved by a sister act clad in matching outfits act doing a salute to something or other.

In fact, to older people watching the changes in society in the '50s and '60s, an evening with Lawrence Welk was probably a soothing escape from the coarse and noisy world outside.

No one worked harder to keep his audience happy than Lawrence Welk. From 1951-1982 Welk basically hosted a 1940s style radio show but for television. There were musical skits, polka, ballroom dancing and bubbles. So many bubbles. Kids during the groovy era may have rolled their eyes at the cute songs and naïve sensibilities of The Lawrence Welk Show, but as anachronistic as it was the series made older viewers feel like someone was speaking to them.

Welk's persistence on the airwaves is fascinating. The format of his variety show never really changed. He wanted to create an evening out at a big band club, complete with relaxing conversation and music perfect for people who only knew a few dance steps. The series ran on ABC for more than a decade, and even after it was removed from the network Welk kept the show going into the early '80s with the power of syndication, all without changing his style or taste -- at all -- to fit the sounds and fashions of the era.