Lehigh Valley

Musikfest 2014 may be last for Jolly Joe Timmer, some say

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - If polka is the rock and roll of your great grandfather, then Jolly Joe Timmer is about as big of a star as it gets out there.

Timmer is expected to attend Musikfest in Bethlehem, however, the 85-year-old has been battling health issues, and many said they feel this could be his last appearance at Musikfest.

The local music legend has been broadcasting or leading his polka band for more than 60 years. Timmer even played the first day of the first-ever Musikfest.

"I'm a Lehigh Valley Legend and national legend and so is Joe Timmer, said Walt Groller, who, with Timmer, is in the National Polka Association Hall of Fame.

Groller still heads his own polka band, now going on 69 years.

"He was always a leader. His asset was he was a leader," Groller said of Timmer.

Timmer has said he was dubbed Jolly Joe by an area disc jockey for his chipper attitude.

In 1970, Timmer began putting on polka events at Grove in Point Phillips, attracting some of the biggest names in the country.

In 1992, he bought radio station WGPA and has had his own cable show for years. He even developed his own record label and opened a music store in Bethlehem.

Groller said it's that tenacity that will enable the polka king to be remembered long after his musical reign goes silent.

"Always stuck to what he was doing and built up a big clientele in the Lehigh Valley and the area," Groller said.

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