He was derided by music critics, laughed at by those who thought they knew what was cool, but boy was he popular.
Bandleader Lawrence Welk (his instrument of choice was the accordion) had one of the most popular music shows on TV for decades and built up a vast music and real estate empire. When ABC cancelled The Lawrence Welk Show in the 1970s, Welk took the program into syndication for years, making a lot more money than he did with the network.
There were plenty of musical gems along the way, although admittedly you had to sift through a mountain of crap and hokum to find them. Most of those gems were due to the superb musicians that Welk hired -- people like clarinetist Pete Fountain, guitarist Buddy Merrill and ragtime pianists Big Tiny Little and JoAnn Castle all worked for him at one time or another.
By the time the LP Apples & Bananas came out in 1965, Welk was so busy running his businesses that he wasn't directly involved in many of the recording sessions. Dot Records churned out as many as three or four albums a year under the Welk name, with Welk's musical director George Cates handling the recording sessions. But many of the musicians from the TV show did appear on the LPs.
The title song from Apples & Bananas features guitarist Merrill, harpsichordist Frank Scott and Jerry Burke on organ. Listen and download below.
Apples & Bananas
Here's a YouTube clip of Merrill, Scott and Burke playing the tune on the TV show.
According to the excellent Welk Musical Family blog, this was one of the last appearances Burke made on the show before his death.
There are close to 400 Lawrence Welk selections available from iTunes and other sources, including tracks from some of the Dot LPs of the 1960s. Apples & Bananas is not among them. There are plenty of used copies for sale online, but most are overpriced. Welk LPs still turn up regularly in thrift stores and in the dollar bins at vinyl outlets. So, my advice is ... happy hunting!