Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Sunday

July 7, 2013

Cheboygan man named to Country Music Hall

CHEBOYGAN — A northern Lower Peninsula man with decades of performing under his belt is among five people who will be inducted next month into the Michigan Country Music Hall of Fame.

Jack Venzlaff, 63, of Cheboygan will be honored Aug. 30 in Prairieville, Mich., according to the Cheboygan Daily Tribune . The Hall of Fame was established in 1971. It honors the state’s country music performers and promoters.

Twelve people were considered this year for outstanding achievement in vocals, instrumentals, writing or being a disc jockey.

“I just got lucky,” said Venzlaff. “There are a thousand people in the state that sing great.”

DJ and Hall of Fame member Bob Edwards nominated him.

Venzlaff said his whole family was musical and he followed his father, who was well known in the Cheboygan area with his band the Westernairs.

“I started at the age of 6. I have been musically challenged since then,” Venzlaff said with a laugh. “I play bass, guitar and sax.”

He said he was a hit with the girls in his neighborhood when he first started playing.

“I would sit on the porch and imitate Elvis Presley for the girls,” he said. “In high school, I put together some garage bands.”

He has performed in several bands in a music career that spans 45 years, including 16 years with The Playboys.

In the late 1960s, Venzlaff played with classmates Chal Leask, Jim LaFrinere, Brent Davis, John Steward and Tom Taylor in “The Four Gone Conclusion.”

He also played in the Francis Millhouse Band, which once opened for Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs at a concert in Harbor Springs.

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