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MATOCHA, LEE ROY
Bandleader Lee Roy Matocha was a devoted advocate of polka music and its Czech heritage through his performances, recordings, and radio broadcasts. He was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Texas Polka Music Association in 1992 and 1993 for his dedication to Czech polka music by his band and radio programs. Courtesy John Rivard—The Texas Polka News.
MATOCHA, LEE ROY (1932–2003). Lee Roy Matocha, polka bandleader, promoter, and broadcaster, was born in Plum, Texas, on August 2, 1932. He was the son of Louis and Emilie (Zbranek) Matocha. Matocha showed an early interest in his father’s accordion, and at the age of fourteen, he started playing the instrument with his uncle’s group, the Zbranek’s Accordion Band. He made his professional debut at a New Year’s Eve dance at the Prairie View Hermann Sons School.
In 1952 Lee Roy Matocha joined the Lee Ilse Orchestra of La Grange and remained with that outfit for twelve years. During this time the band recorded three 78 rpm records. Matocha formed his own group, the Lee Roy Matocha Orchestra, in 1964 with Harold Ilse, Ivan Faykus, and Charlie Rainosek. They were based in Fayetteville. They performed in cities and small towns across Texas and in 1970 acquired a band bus that they named the “Golden Eagle.” During his career, Matocha, who was nicknamed the “Fayetteville Flash,” produced a prolific output of recordings that included eighteen 45 rpms, thirteen LPs, six 8-tracks, seven cassettes, and one video.
In the early 1960s Matocha also began a broadcasting career that would span almost forty years. He was a tireless promoter of polka music and its Czech heritage as the host of the Lee Roy Matocha Czech Hour and the Polka Show. He initially began recording a program for KVLG in La Grange, but over the years his output grew to twelve polka shows on six radio stations. He taped his broadcasts at his home in Fayette County for stations such as KCTI in Gonzales and KMIL in Cameron as well as KVLG in La Grange. The South and Central Texas towns of Brenham, El Campo, Columbus, Kenedy, and Karnes City also heard Matocha’s broadcasts, which featured both his own performances and selections from his extensive collection of 78 rpm records of the 1930s and 1940s. Matocha spoke both English and Czech on his programs.
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Matocha retired from performing in 1998, and he and the band played their farewell dance on December 31, 1998, at the Ellinger Community Center in Fayette County. He continued, however, with his regular radio broadcasts. Matocha was a two-time winner of the Texas Polka Music Lifetime Achievement Award—first in 1992 for dedication and longevity in promoting polka music on the airwaves and then again in 1993 for performing Czech music in Texas. He was a member of St. Isidore Society, K.J.T., and S.P.J.S.T. He was also a parishioner of St. John’s Catholic Church in Fayetteville. Matocha had married Doris Emily Malota on April 17, 1955. They had five children. He died at his home in Fayetteville on July 12, 2003. He was buried in Fayetteville Catholic Cemetery.
The Guardian (London), July 28, 2003. Houston Chronicle, July 14, 15, 2003. John Rivard, “Matocha and Polka—Thank You, Lee Roy!” The Texas Polka News, August 2003.
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Handbook of Texas Online, Laurie E. Jasinski, "MATOCHA, LEE ROY," accessed April 20, 2019, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fmajk.
Uploaded on August 4, 2015. Modified on October 25, 2015. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.