THE HISTORY OF WALLY GINGERS

 

Wally Gingers (aka George E. Tajc) was born in 1919 into a large musical family.  His life as a talented musician was destined from the start.

George had a unique talent for music in that he had perfect pitch and was able to transpose any music into any key while sight reading. One of his earliest performances happened when he was six years old in elementary school. He played the accordion (or squeeze box as it was known then) and his teachers were so impressed that they organized a concert for him.  He was so small that in order to be seen, they sat him on the principal's desk while he played.  Each class in turn came in to hear him perform.

 All through his early and middle school years, he performed with his family as part of The Tajc Brothers. This was a four or five piece polka band that played for weddings, public dances and proms and was very popular in the area.

However, George had ideas for his own band with his own sound. He longed for a big band with tenor saxophones for a smoother, richer sound over the alto saxophone bands that were popular at the time.

In 1937, his senior year of high school, he started  his own band and took the professional name of Wally Gingers. This name was suggested and recommended to him by his high school music instructor.

Thus, The Wally Gingers Orchestra was born.

Wally began to make a name for himself performing at public and private dances, high school proms, weddings, playing big band music and polkas as well which was still in popular demand at that time.

His big start was at the Ivory Ballroom in Uniontown.  The Wally Gingers Orchestra was a standard there, playing several times a month with always a large turnout.

Then World War II happened.  He enlisted into the  Army in 1942  and was active 4 years as an artillery gunman. During the war, he was refused his requests to move to the army band as he was too valuable in his position with the large artillery.

However, he devoted all spare time to making arrangements for his band to perform upon his return to civilian life.  He made over 100 arrangements during this time.

Once out of the army, in 1946, he focused all efforts on reviving his orchestra with his newly made arrangements.

Surprisingly, his band members prior to the war were all able to return to his band upon the end of the war, and he was quickly able to start performing again with now over 100 new arrangements that he had worked on during his time in the service, with an emphasis on a tenor band sound.

At this time, Wally really started making a name for himself as a band for all occasions. Word got out that the band was hot and he was offered a contract through RCA recording for a US tour.  Unfortunately, he turned this down because it would mandate that he be away for six months at a time and he did not want to be away from his growing family for that long.

Once he turned down the tour, his name was very well known across the eastern US and he started getting offers to play the big name places, such as Roseland Ballroom in New York in the mid 50's.   He originally signed a contract for two weeks with an option for two additional weeks depending on his popularity with the crowd.  After the first night, they immediately signed him up for the additional two weeks, but his band members had to leave only making arrangements for the first  two weeks.  He played the final two weeks with musicians from New York that filled in every night with musicians handing him cards after each night all wanting to play with his band. 

Wally also performed at Sunnybrook Ballroom in Eastern PA which was a large ballroom that consistently drew huge crowds. He played here middle to late '50's and it is here that the main recording of his performance was made which can be heard playing on this website.

All this time, he was doing regular weekly radio broadcasts through WMBS in Uniontown on Sunday nights which were picked up for broadcast along the east coast as well.

At one point, Wally would have one new arrangement per week. He was constantly working on new songs and continued this for the rest of his professional musical career, but he always maintained his big band sound. He would listen to new songs on the radio, making recordings of these songs, and then transposing them to written music before the sheet music was available. This way he was able to stay current with popular songs before they were even available to the public.

In the late 60's, two sons joined the band, Larry and Jim, playing baritone sax and bass guitar, respectively. In 1978, daughter Clare joined the band, becoming the drummer.

Wally passed away in 1990, with the band continuing on for about 6 months before breaking up.  The news of his death was widespread and an outpouring of people attended his funeral, all paying respect to this wonderful musician and band leader who had made such impact in their lives.

Wally Gingers was a very talented musician, a man of character and integrity, who loved playing music and enjoyed performing for the average person. He prided himself on playing music that 'ordinary' people could appreciate, with smooth tempos and sweet harmonies  . . . the 'dancer's dance band'.