This Chicago indie label began in 1963 when Eddie Blazonczyk, at the time recording on Mercury Records as “Eddy Bell,” opted to cross over from rock ‘n roll to the more traditional, grass roots, polka music of his ethnic heritage. Larger labels like Columbia and MGM no longer expressed an interest in signing and releasing polka artists, prompting Blazonczyk to control his own destiny and create a label that focused expressly on polka music.
Because ’60s and ’70s-era Chicago was considered by many to be the nation’s polka capital, artists looking for a label and distribution were abundant and well-received at Bel-Aire. The nationwide prominence of Blazonczyk’s own band, the Versatones, was also key in attracting some of the best polka artists from around the country to the label.
Since 1963, Bel-Aire Records has released over 300 recordings by more than 75 artists, and has produced a number of award-winning recordings including more than a dozen Grammy-nominated and one Grammy Award-winning recording since the Polka Category’s addition to the Grammys by NARAS in 1985.