Even if you don’t know polka, Big Daddy made you want to at least try.
Legendary “La Dee Da” polka musician Marshall Lackowski, better known by his stage name Big Daddy, died Saturday morning of congestive heart failure, according to his Facebook page.
He was 85.
The family did not respond to multiple requests for an interview Monday morning, but some took to social media to honor their patriarch for his endearing ways and instilling an unyielding sense of faith in his seven children and grandchildren.
“He was truly one of a kind and had great feelings for his faith, family and friends,” Lackowski’s son, Mark Anthony Lackowski, wrote in a post. “I know he would want to bless you the same way you blessed him, laughing the whole time. His music has brought joy to countless people.”
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Before that the name was Big Daddy that A name for polka music in Michigan and beyond, Lackowski of Parisville, Huron County, began his music career in the 1950s with his brothers William and Clarence in the Lackowski Brothers Orchestra, playing gigs in the thumb region. The trio group eventually disbanded, but Big Daddy pressed on, forming the La Dee Das and passing the musical vocation on to his sons. Over the decades, three things have never changed for Big Daddy: his accordion has stayed on his chest, his love of polka music has never strayed, and family has always been the focus.
Beer halls, sports stadiums and weddings throughout the Midwest, which accounts for a significant portion of Polish immigrants, blared with polka music. By the turn of the century, Detroit’s manufacturing industries and a thriving economy — not to mention a prominent Catholic presence — were attracting job-seeking Poles. Thus Poletown was born.
Fans and community members across generations have narrated weddings, birthdays and festivals enlivened by Lackowski’s music. An ordinary tent in a parking lot would turn into the best party in town once Big Daddy started banging the keys.
Clarkston Union Bar and Kitchen looks back on more than two decades of Big Daddy blessing his Oktoberfest.
“When the van pulled in and (Lackowski) and his family poured out: He set a tone that transcended any tone of the band’s instruments: optimism … energy … and passion for the polka from this accordion-armed deity,” reads a Contribution from the restaurant. “…He knew the people in the tent weren’t there for the beer, the brats, or the pancakes: they were there for Big Daddy Lackowski. Even at the rainiest Oktoberfest, this Dodge Van delivered something that brightened the day into the night.”
Funeral services are expected to be announced soon.