Drummers / Percussionists
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BIOGRAPHY

Jack Imel

Jack Imel, born Lawrence Imel on June 9, 1932 in Portland, Indiana, was an American percussionit, singer, dancer, and television producer who is best known for his work on The Lawrence Welk Show (1957–1982).

Imel learned to tap dance at an early age, and by the time he was four years old, took up playing the marimba. Through elementary and high school he appeared in clubs and special concerts in and around his hometown of Portland, IN. With the start of the Korean War in 1950, Imel joined the U.S. Navy and towards the end of his tour of duty, was stationed in San Diego, CA. He later traveled to Los Angeles to audition for The Lawrence Welk Show — he was invited to join the cast of the show, cementing his status wtih his debut marimba/dance performance in 1957.

After just three months on the show, Lawrence Welk began receiving hate mail stating that Imel was "conceited" and a "show-off." To rectify the situation, Welk suggested that Imel take a place in the band, since all soloists on the show came from the band. Since the marimba was not designed to be a part of the orchestra, Jack was given assorted percussion instruments and traps to play, including the orchestra bells, triangle, and maracas. With the expansion of his musical duties within the band, fans soon began to somewhat accept Imel.

Jack Imel's career as a producer began with the hiring of tap dancer Arthur Duncan in 1964. With two "hoofers" on the Welk show, Imel decided he needed to diversify and began pitching a variety of production ideas. The show's management found Imel's ideas interesting, so they began inviting him to the production meetings — eventually becoming a full-fledged associate producer of the Welk show. In the 1970s, Imel was paired with Mary Lou Metzger in specialty song and dance routines. He also became known for wearing animal costumes in various numbers, alongside dancer Bobby Burgess.

After retiring from the Welk organization in 2006 and from performing entirely just two years later, Jack Imel continued to be involved in entertainment as part of the audition committee for the City of Hope Spectacular in Porterville, CA.

Jack Imel died on April 30, 2017 in Springville, California; he was 84.

Jack Imel