Living Category - Inducted 2001
, lead vocalist and tenor saxophone for the Jimmy Sturr Band
, has regaled audiences with his
virtuosity for over forty years.
intensity, versatility and creativity on the tenor sax have resulted in most observers describing him as one of, if not the best saxophonist ever in the polka field.
unique vocal styling and phrasing have afforded him the recognition of being one of the finest vocalists in the industry.
Bobby Vinton has called Johnny
the "heart and soul" of the Jimmy Sturr Band
John Stephan Karas was born on June 10, 1948, to the late Anthony and Carrie Karas.
musical career began at an early age.
Within two years, nine-year-old John
eleven-year-old brother Tom formed the Tommy K Trio and were performing professionally in Erie County, NY.
They appeared weekly at the Glen Park Casino and Town Casino in the variety show, "Mrs.
Dunn's Stars of Tomorrow", an ensemble of what was considered to be the best young talent in the western New York area.
In the 1960's, the band became Tommy K and the Little New Yorkers.
On January 1, 1966, John
and Tom joined forces with Gino Kurdziel and the late Gene Martin of the legendary New Yorkers Orchestra to form the original G-Notes.
continued to excel on the clarinet, saxophone and flute.
talents and became one of the first reed players in the Polka field to double on trumpet further demonstrating the uniqueness that defined the band.
Saxophonists continued to marvel at his
ability to triple tongue.
featured solo on the song "Night Train", playing the alto and tenor sax simultaneously has become legendary.
As manager of the G-Notes in 1973, John led the group to record their first album, "The G-Notes at Last".
To this day, many regard this album as one of the finest polka albums ever recorded.
Most of the songs arranged and selected by his
brother Tom showcased John's unique musical ability.
"The Orange Blossom Special", "The Tennessee Waltz", and the "Fireball Mail" launched John
into becoming one of the most respected and emulated tenor saxophonist in the industry.
"The Saxarinet Polka" is considered by most to be Johnny's signature song.
famous "off the cuff" solo to this day.
In April 1979, John became a member of the band.
immediately became the lead vocalist and has recorded over fifty albums with the ban, eleven of which were Grammy Award winners.
His contribution to the band's success prompted Jim to designate John
as his band manager.
has had the privilege to perform across the United States and Europe.
has appeared with many of the great performers in and out of the polka field.
has made guest appearances with the likes of the New Yorkers, Marion Lush, Ray Budzilek, Frankie Yankovic, Little Wally, the Connecticut Twins, Gene Wisniewski, Frank Wojnarowski's Pic-A-Polka Television Show, Eddie Blazonczyk, Lenny Gomulka, Polka Family and many more.
has performed and recorded with Bobby Vinton, The Oakridge Boys, Bill Anderson, Mel Tillis, Myron Floren, and Flaco Jimenez.
In June 2000, the Florida Lions Club
with a certificate designating him a "Knight of the Blind".