During the 1920s, he performed with various bands before starting his own orchestra.
He led big bands in North Dakota and eastern South Dakota.
These included the Hotsy Totsy Boys and later the Honolulu Fruit Gum Orchestra.
Although many associate Welk's music with a style quite separate from jazz, he did record one notable song in a ragtime style in November 1928 for Gennett Records, based in Richmond, Indiana: "Spiked Beer", featuring Welk and his Novelty Orchestra.
Lawrence Welk (March 11, 1903 – May 17, 1992) was an American musician, accordionist, bandleader, and television impresario, who hosted the television program The Lawrence Welk Show from 1951 to 1982.
During the 1930s, Welk led a traveling big band that specialized in dance tunes and "sweet" music (during this period, bands which played light, melodic music were referred to as "sweet bands" to distinguish them from the more rhythmic and assertive "hot" bands of artists like Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington).
Initially, the band traveled around the country by car.
Welk was born in the German-speaking community of Strasburg, North Dakota.
He was sixth of the eight children of Ludwig and Christiana (Schwahn) Welk, ethnic Germans who emigrated to America in 1892 from Odessa, Russian Empire (now Ukraine).
Any money he made elsewhere during that time, doing farmwork or performing, would go to his family.
On his 21st birthday, having fulfilled his promise to his father, Welk left the family farm to pursue a career in music.