Joey James Hlavsa

Hlavsa record

Mickey cat. no. 877T-6873. Single 45 rpm vinyl record. Side [1]: Happy New Year Polka. Side [2]: A Wilted Carnation. Both performed by Joey James and his Skylarks. 1964. MCHS archival object 2012-064-0002.

Joey Hlavsa gave his first live performance at age nine, playing the accordion with “Polka King” Frankie Yankovic in St. Louis’s Casa Loma Ballroom. Hlavsa was born in Glen Carbon in 1942 and attended Edwardsville High School and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Although he eventually made his living as an insurance broker, the band he formed in high school continued playing gigs for over fifty years.

Hlavsa used the name “Joey James” for show business. He played bass, accordion, and keyboard in the four-member Joey James Orchestra. A trumpet, saxophone, clarinet, and drums rounded out the band, with James and other members taking turns on vocals. They specialized in dance music: polka, Latin, waltz, swing, foxtrot, and country.

Joey’s widow Becky Hlavsa donated this record to the Madison County Historical Society. The photo image on the record sleeve is Joey’s 1960 high school senior year picture.

Joey James Hlavsa record in sleeve


Alton city directories. Available at the Madison County Archival Library.

Discogs. Accessed February 5, 2020.

Edwardsville Intelligencer. Various articles.

[Obituary]. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 24, 2010.