Polka Hall of Fame to Induct Youngstown Studio Owner Gary Rhamy

Gary Rhamy, the longtime owner and operator of Peppermint Recording Studios in Youngstown, will be inducted into the National Cleveland-style Polka Hall of Fame on Saturday, Nov. 25.

The ceremony will take place in the ballroom of the Cleveland South Holiday Inn in Independence, Ohio. Rhamy is one of four members in the hall’s class of 2023.

The Boardman resident will also receive the hall’s Lifetime Achievement award Saturday.

A recording engineer, producer, announcer and studio owner, Rhamy has engineered five Grammy-winning albums.

He has produced more than 500 albums for more than 175 polka artists, as well as countless singles and albums for contemporary, jazz and gospel talents.

He continues to produce albums for bands and independent labels and his own Peppermint label. During the past 30 years, Peppermint and Peppermint Vintage have released nearly 120 albums.

Rhamy is perhaps most proud of his recordings with Youngstown’s Del Sinchak Band, which not only include the Grammy-nominated “Let The Sunshine In” and “POLKAPIZZAZZ” albums, but also the acclaimed “Look At Us” crossover album, which was featured on radio stations across the country.

Rhamy’s current projects include producing Sinatra-style singer Angelo Babbaro and mixing the sound for RFD TV’s nationally broadcast “Mollie B’s Polka Party” and the award-winning “Mollie B’s Christmas Special” from Branson, Missouri.

Personal History

A graduate of Wooster High School, Rhamy received his bachelor’s degree in broadcasting from Ohio University. As a student, he produced a live jazz program called “Campus Jazz” that aired weekly for two years over 50,000 watt WLW Radio in Cincinnati.

He moved to Youngstown in 1967 to work for WBBW Radio. With a love for both broadcasting and recording, Rhamy also began working for WAM Records and United Audio Recording in Youngstown as an engineer. Following two years as a producer-director for the U.S. Army’s Television Division at Fort Knox, Kentucky, he returned to Youngstown in 1970 to launch Peppermint Recording Studios.

In the ’70s, he produced albums for several local artists who would go on to achieve national fame, including rock bands Blue Ash and Left End, singer Maureen McGovern, country songwriter Bob Dipiero and vocalist Joe Pizullo.

In 1981, Rhamy received a Gold Record, and later platinum recognition, for the Carol Hensel “Dancercize” album, signifying over 1 million units sold.

More recently, Gary recorded and mixed “Live at the Iron Horse Saloon” for country star David Alan Coe, in Daytona, Florida.

The popularity of early recordings by Joe Fedorchak, Joey Miskulin, Bob Turcola, the Dynatones and The New Brass sealed Rhamy’s reputation in the polka field.

In 1986, “70 Years Of Polka Hits,” which Rhamy recorded with America’s Polka King Frank Yankovic, was awarded the first Grammy in the newly established Best Polka Recording category.

Again, in 1992, the album “35th Anniversary” by Canada’s Walter Ostanek, which Rhamy recorded and mixed, received that year’s Grammy award.

The team of Rhamy and Ostanek brought home the 1993 Grammy with the album “Accordionally Yours,” and again was successful in winning the 1994 Grammy with “Music and Friends.”

Rhamy’s most recent Grammy contribution was recording live tracks for Brave Combo’s 2005 winner “Let’s Kiss.”

In each of the 20 years in which polkas were eligible, as many as four of the final five Grammy nominations have been Peppermint recordings.

Industry Accolades

In 1994, the Penn-Ohio Polka Pals, a Grammy-nominated group of 60 musicians, named Rhamy Man of The Year.

In 2006, the Chicago based International Polka Association inducted Rhamy into its Hall of Fame.

Rhamy has also earned accolades for his broadcasting skill. He has produced commercials and jingles and has served as the voice of General Motors, the Hoover Co., Packard Electric, 84 Lumber, Hill’s Department Stores and USAir in commercials.

He announced and engineered the pilot demo for the popular television show “American Gladiators.”

He also has worked continuously as a host on several Mahoning Valley radio stations, including WSOM in Salem, WHTX in Youngstown and WRQX in Salem.

In 2014, Rhamy was inducted into the Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

Pictured at top: Gary Rhamy holds a polka album by Frank Yankovic that he recorded.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.