Saturday, December 4, 2021

Happy Louie Dusseault (1934-2021)

“He was revolutionizing the industry with the great music he wrote and his great singing voice… There was a true entertainer.” Mitch Biskup


Diane’s Dad, Happy Louie, passed away the day after Thanksgiving….


I grew up in Western Massachusetts with a lot of Polish-American friends and during college I worked summer and winter breaks at a cast iron foundry with many of them along with their Dads. Hard working, honest and very proud of their ethnicity and families. However, back then Polish-American people were considered fair game and Polish jokes were common. 

Maybe you’ve seen the movie Flashdance? If you haven't, watch the comedian scene and you’ll hear some vintage ethnic stereotyping (in this case, some nasty Polish jokes) that were unfortunately still popular in 1983 when the movie was released. A $100 million lawsuit was even filed (and later dismissed) against Paramount Pictures that contended Polish jokes in the movie 'hurt Poles' chances of getting jobs.


“Now let everybody listen, I need some help from you just like the springtime needs the rain. Let's cut out those Polish jokes, we're as good as other folks. Polish blood is flowing through my veins.” Original Happy Louie and Julcia lyrics for Love And Peace Polka


Diane and I met in college. I had heard of her Dad but was not real familiar with Polish music. I remember the first time we met Julcia and Louie for lunch. Louie was quiet, reserved and (definitely) scoping me out. Right away he reminded me of some of the foundry guys – all good stuff. When I finally had the chance to watch him perform, I was blown away. Huge crowds that would pack the front of the stage waving red bandanas while Louie sang, played the trumpet and danced. He had the ability to make everyone feel special with his genuine honesty, generosity and kind heart and sense of humor. Most importantly, he made Polish-American people proud. Proud of who they were, their heritage, their families, their hard work and very proud to be Polish-American. 


“He didn’t just play Polkas. He had people up on the tables. He had incredible charisma. When he played a song, he made it feel like he was playing it for each person in the crowd. He had that pizazz. When he wrote a song it really touched people.” Lenny Gomulka


From humble beginnings Louie and Julcia traveled the world playing and entertaining so many. Years ago Parkinson’s slowly started to take things away - Louie’s voice, his trumpet, his dancing – so many of the things he loved. It never took away his culture, pride, dignity, and respect for others. Heartbreaking as it was to watch I don’t ever remember him complaining or feeling sorry for himself. 


Louie made a such a positive difference in so many lives. Memorial contributions in honor of Louie may be made to the MJF Foundation ATTN:  Donor Services, 111 West 33rd Street, 10th Floor, New York, NY 10120 for TEAM HAPPY LOUIE DUSSEAULT. 

Quote source: Polka world mourns death of bandleader ‘Happy Louie’ Dusseault. Springfield Republican. 12/4/21