Inducted - Milwaukee 1996
Bill Cvetnic started playing the tambura at the age of nine with East Pittsburgh Sloboda Junior Tammies, under the direction of the late George Beleg. He is the son of the late Joe Cvetnic who played with the Sloboda Tamburitza Orchestra of East Pittsburgh during the 1920's and 1930's. While attending Turtle Creek High School, he joined the Nick Naglich Orchestra, along with Nick's son Walt, a neighbor and schoolmate. Bill remained with this orchestra until he was asked to join the Balkan Serenaders of Trafford. He was a regular with this group until being drafted into the Army in 1951.
He was discharged from the Army in 1953, after the Korean War, and attended engineering school until 1956 and then was employed as a mechanical engineer by the Aetna Standard Engineering Company. Bill again rejoined the Balkan Serenaders and stayed with the group through 1955. It was then that he left to play with the Danny Kukich Orchestra from 1955 until 1972. Bill also made recordings with this group.
In 1972, Bill and Walt Naglich decided to form their own tamburitza orchestra. They called the group The Balkan Four. Bill played bugarija and was the lead singer with this group.
After Walt Naglich moved to California, Bill kept the Balkan Four together until 1985. He then became a member of the Dunav Orchestra of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, and played with this group until 1993.
In 1994, Bill became a member of the Novi Glas Orchestra, playing the prim instead of the bugarija, which he played for many years.
While playing with the different groups over the years, Bill has performed in many areas of western Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, New York, Washington DC, and Las Vegas, Nevada. He accompanied Vinka Ellison and other singers when they performed in the Pittsburgh area with the Danny Kukich Orchestra. He also played for a banquet with this group at the Roosevelt Hotel in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for the late King Peter of Yugoslavia. His love of music and Croatian heritage is apparent.
He has been self-employed for the last few years with his Mr. Bill's Home Remodeling business. He lives in East Pittsburgh with his wife Sandy and their dog Freeway.
His mother, Rose Cvetnic, is now 92 years young and he has a sister, Caroline (Cvetnic) Polesnak. His son, Dr. Bill Cvetnic, also lives in the Pittsburgh area.
Not only is Bill a musician, but he also makes tamburitza instruments and most recently did his own sound-on-sound recordings, playing all the instruments, which he made, and singing three-part harmony.
Bill would like to thank all of the musicians he has performed with throughout the years and most especially all the people who came to see these groups play.
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