Johnny Klein, Drummer (1957 - 1976)
Johnny Klein, Lawrence Welk's second cousin, was born in Strasburg, North Dakota, in 1918, the son of German-Russian parents, the oldest of a family of five children. Johnny was a talented and trained musician, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education from the University of Missouri in 1948. He earned a Master's Degree in Music Education at the University of Missouri in 1951. While Johnny was studying in Missouri, Lawrence Welk came to St. Louis for an engagement and encouraged his cousin to join the band. He joined the Welk Band in August, 1951 in Los Angeles and played through 1976, when several heart attacks forced him to retire. He was replaced by drummer Paul Humphrey.
Ill health due to a bleeding ulcer ended his full time career with the Welk Band, but after he recovered, he would often play for the Sunday Swing at the Welk Resort in Escondido, with a group called the Journeymen. He also played on weekends at Barbata's, a club in the Woodland Hills area of the Valley, until his complete retirement in the early 1990's.
Klein passed away in 1997.