Lojze Slak was born July 23, 1932, in the village of Jordankal near Mirna Peč in the Dolenska region of Slovenia. The Slak family had ten children. Because of his mother’s illness, young Lojze was taken in by his grandparents in his first year, and spent the majority of his youth with them. These circumstances conspired to have a profound effect on the journey in his later life. His uncle Ludvik had a diatonic accordion, and he used it to play in the village celebrations and festivities. The young Lojze was fascinated with the instrument. Even before he went to school for the first time, he had learned to play more than 10 songs on that instrument. Hi uncle Ludvik taught him many things, but when it came to playing the accordion, he encouraged him to learn on his own, convinced that it would be better for him in the long run.
At the age of 15, Lojze performed at his first wedding. It's difficult to imagine how many weddings he played in total, certainly there were several hundred. He entertained the relatives for 10 years, until age 25. More often than not, he played solo at weddings, and occasionally with other musicians as the Lojze Slak Trio.
1957 was a milestone in his career, that year he performed for the first time as solo accordionist on the radio program »Pokaži, kaj znaš!« (Show what you know), and immediately captivatedthe radio audience.
In 1959 he formed the Brothers Slak Ensemble. The quartet consisted of his brother Tone on trumpet, Matija on klarinet, Stane on bass, and Lojze on the accordion. The quartet played for three solid years, right up until brothers Matija and Tone were forced to leave because they had to enlist in the army. This broke up the quartet, however, Lojze didn't sit back and wait. He quickly found three singers and entered a competition for new ensembles, which took place at »Gospodarskem raztavišču« in Ljubljana. His composition »Domači vasici« became Slak's first big overnight hit.
In 1964, on one of his radio appearances, Lojze was aquainted with the vocal group Fantje s Praprotna. Both sides liked what the other had to offer. It didn't take long for them to try a few songs together, and agreed on a date to perform together. This resulted in one of the best and most original local bands to come out of Slovenia.
After the breakup of the Slak Brothers ensemble, Lojze moved to Ljuljana in search of work to be able to support himself. Among other jobs, he was also a driver with the firm »Petrol«. He learned upholstering and joined the former furniture factory »Pohištva«, later known as »Hoja«. He was a diligent and hard worker, progressing from labourer to salesman at the firm, and he remained there in that capacity until his retirement. In February, 1960, he married Ivanka Gaber, with whom he had been acquainted in Ljubljana. She originally hailed from the Styrian village of Javorje, near Gorice pri Slivnici.
In 1960, Lojze and Ivanka gave birth to their first son – Slavko. Sixteen years later, their second son Robert was born. In the seventies, the Slak family moved from their apartment in Ljubljanskih Dravljah to a newly built house in Šentvid near Ljubljana.
It was around this time that Slak began touring with his ensemble throughout Europe, first in Germany, Switzerland and France, then across the Atlantic in the USA and Canada. This took up all of his free time but it encouraged even greater musical creativity.
Lojze was a master on his instrument – the diatonic accordion, but he felt that it didn't provide him enough opportunity to truly express himself, so he invented the special button on the accordion (the single button on the 4th row) which became known as »Slakov gumb« (Slak's button). This was his contribution to the evolution of the diatonic accordion and it's popularity in the world of music.
In his musical career, Lojze faced life challenges and tragedy on several occasions, one of them being the tragic death of his singer Jože Šifrer. In spite of the huge loss and the sadness that followed, Lojze bravely moved forward, eventually finding a replacement for his lost singer. Lojze’s camaraderie and his ability to pull everyone together during difficult times are considered his greatest strengths.
The musical journeycontinued to even greater heights. In his homeland, Lojze Slak's name became synonymous with the term folk music, his songs regularly played on all the radio broadcasts. He was especially popular with the listeners of the most popular shows, such as »V četrtek zvečer« (On Thursday evening) and »Po željah« (As you wish). Even Slovenians abroad adored Lojze Slak and regularly invited him to tour the United States, Canada and Australia. He became especially popular in the USA, receiving numerous awards and even performing at the country music capital of the world – Nashville.
Lojze was very engaged in the development and growth in popularity of folk music in his native country. With the cooperation of other well known musicians he established a music festival in Novo Mesto under the name »Boš videl, kaj dela Dolen'c!« (Watch what a Dolenc does). It became an annual tradition, and grew bigger every year, with more viewers and listeners, as well as increasing media attention.
The 30th anniversary of his musical creativity was celebrated in the home of Slovenian culture – Cankarjev Dom in Ljubljana, where he completely sold out his two shows.
The Lojze Slak Ensemble has been a guest on all the biggest and best known radio and television programs, and his proverbial knack for cooperation with others put him on stage with numerous other bands of all genres, including Čuki, Big Foot Mama, and others.
Lojze Slak received numerous awards and recognition for his musical creativity. Many of his records and cassettes went gold, and among his many awards there are the Zlati Petelin (Golden Rooster), Zlata Čaplja (Golden Heron), Slovenski Slavček (Slovenian Nightingale), Lojtrca domačih and Viktorji. But the greatest recognition is undoubtedly the Order of Freedom of the Republic of Slovenia.
In spite of his age, Lojze continued to nurture a sporting spirit deep within him. To that end, he ascended Mount Triglav and parachuted out of an airplane in the later years of his life.
From his vineyard at Trška Gora, Lojze produced an excellent wine – Dolenjski Cviček, for which he also received recognition and awards of excellence.
To Lojze, his most precious rewardswere his grandchildren. He adored them above all else. And they were equally proud of their grandfather, who despite all of his work, always made time to play with them.
The golden wedding anniversary of Lojze and Ivanka Slak was celebrated on February 20, 2010 with family and friends, unaware that he had been stricken with a terrible disease that would end his life. Lojze Slak played his last concert on December 16, 2010, at Cankarjev Dom, in memory of his guitarist and friend Milan Ferlež.
On one occasion, the question was posed to Lojze, what would he do when he couldn’t play any more, and without hesitation, he answered »Then I'll just die!«
Lojze Slak lost his battle for life on September 29, 2011. He is laid to rest at the cemetary at the church of St. Vitus in the village of Šentvid above Ljubljana.