Michigan Polka king Marshall John ‘Big Daddy’ Lackowski has died at 85

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

A fixture in the local polka scene for more than 60 years, Marshall John Lackowski was best known as the bandleader for his band Big Daddy Lackowski and the La-Dee-Das. 

The Parisville, Michigan, native died Saturday at age 85 in Bonita Springs, Florida, according to his posted obituary

Marshall "Big Daddy" Lackowski

Lackowski formed the Lackowski Brothers Orchestra with his two brothers in the 1950s. In the 1960s, he entered St. Mary’s Seminary in Orchard Lake where his mentorship to younger seminarians earned him the name nickname “Big Daddy Lackowski.” 

For many decades he blended his love for the church community, family and music. His children performed with him in his bands, and Big Daddy was known for his Polka Mass events that combined music and worship in both English and Polish.

“It’s a happy beat, it’s happy music,” Lackowski told The Detroit News in a 1986 article about a Polish festival at Hart Plaza. “People start dancing, feet move, hands start clapping. And it’s a good wholesome kind of music. You wouldn’t be ashamed to bring your whole family to hear it.” 

Lackowski was inducted to the Michigan State Polka Hall of Fame in 1997. 

He and his wife of 50 years, Mary Ann Lackowski, had seven children and 21 grandchildren. 

A visitation is set for Monday at Wujek-Calcaterra & Sons Inc. in Shelby Township with a 7 p.m. service. On April 19 there will be a 10 a.m. mass at St. Lawrence Catholic Church in Utica.