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Jo Ann Castle

Castle (left) with Lawrence Welk and Cissy King, 1969. Jo Ann Castle (born Jo Ann Zering on September 3, 1939, in Bakersfield, California, United States) is a noted ragtime pianist. She adopted the stage name "Castle" from a type of accordion, another instrument she played with great proficiency. She was often referred to as "Queen of the Ragtime Pianists," and was seen as the younger version of star ragtime pianist Del Wood.

Castle has released sixteen albums throughout her career. She is most known for being the central ragtime performer on The Lawrence Welk Show, on which she performed from 1959 to 1969. Originally discovered for Welk by Joe Feeney, Castle became a permanent member of the "Welk Family" just prior to her twentieth birthday, replacing the departing Big Tiny Little. Welk wished to announce her age on the air, when she informed him that revealing her actual age publicly would jeopardize her budding career as a Las Vegas entertainer. At first nonplussed, he then surprised her on air a week later with a piano-decorated cake and announcing her hiring as one of his "champagne music-makers". On the show, she was known for playing the "Red Hot Piano".

Castle was a close friend and colleague of Liberace and has since spoken fondly of him in various retrospectives since his death.

In the 1990s, Castle performed for fans at the Lawrence Welk-owned Champagne Theater in Branson, Missouri, as well as making a guest appearance for a show with Jimmy Sturr and His Orchestra on RFD TV.

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