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Rave Records Collection

Identifier: SC MS 0421

Scope and Contents

This collection contains all 34 of the LP vinyl albums published by Rave Records between 1960 and 1984. The records are numbered sequentially using an "RLP" number. This collection does not include the singles or EPs that the record company produced. The majority of the files are saved in lossless WAV files, with some also being saved as MP3 files.


  • Creation: 1959 - 1984


Biographical / Historical

Joseph W. "Jolly Joe" Timmer(1930-2015) was a polka musician, media personality & record producer from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Born February 16, 1930 in South Bethlehem, Timmer grew up attending polka dances in the Lehigh Valley. After graduating from Bethlehem Catholic High School in 1948, Joe briefly worked for Bethlehem Steel and then embarked on what would be a sixty-five-year career in polka music.

The Bandleader Jolly Joe's orchestra was well known throughout the tri-state region. At their peak in the 1950s thru 1980s, the band regularly played 5-6 times a week, sometimes playing multiple venues in the same day. The band played at major fairs and festivals, including Musikfest Bethlehem, of which Joe was one of the original performers in 1984. Their early success and popularity led to an appearance on the Ted Mack Show in New York City in 1968 and a subsequent invitation to be the first major bandleader to bring polkas to South Beach, playing at the famous Di Lido Hotel. Timmer took many trips with his band, including Hawaiian and Caribbean polka cruises, winter getaways to the Catskills, Berkshires, Adirondacks and White Mountains. Timmer also led several European tours. Regionally, the band performed at many dance halls and ethnic clubs in the greater New York, Philadelphia & Lehigh Valley area.

The Jolly Joe Timmer Orchestra released 7 studio albums.

The Broadcaster Joe began his radio career in 1949 at Bethlehem's radio station, WGPA, with a 15-minute time slot, once per week. He quickly garnered support from advertisers and the program became a daily feature. He would expand his reach in the 1950s to include hosting a polka show at WHOL in Allentown. He would remain a fixture in the radio industry in the Lehigh Valley for decades at both stations. In 1991, he purchased WGPA Radio and maintained it until 2015.

Joe's broadcasting success led to an opportunity for him to begin hosting his own cable TV program, the Jolly Joe Timmer Show. The show was broadcast on various cable outlets including Service Electric, Twin County and RCN Cable in the Lehigh Valley. The program would run for over fifty years consecutively. The show featured polka videos, historical videos of Central and Eastern Europe, viewer call-ins and local guest hosts. Prior to his passing in 2015, the Jolly Joe Timmer Show was the longest running cable TV Show in the country.

The Businessman In addition to owning WGPA, Joe also owned and operated a music store, "Jolly Joe Timmer’s House of Music," which was located on the main floor of his home at 415 Buchanan St in Bethlehem. The store sold polka records, cassettes, CDs and videos, as well as musical instruments. The day-to-day operations of the store were managed by his wife, the late Dorothy, who went by the name, "Jolly Dottie".

Rave Records Timmer established Rave Records in 1959, the studios were located on the second floor of the home on Buchanan St. Rave Records released 34 LP’s from 1960-1984. Polka artists to record on Rave included; Timmer's Orchestra, The King Brothers, The Hi-Hats, Steve Huber's Happy Austrians, regional church choirs, and others. All of these albums are included in this collection.


11.33 Gigabytes ; 35 digitized vinyl LPs

Language of Materials





This collection contains 35 digitized LP (Long Play) vinyl records that were produced by Rave Records in Bethlehem, PA. This record label was founded by Joseph W. "Jolly Joe" Timmer(1930-2015) in 1959 and published albums until 1984. The majority of music published by Rave was polka, but also included Christmas carols, hymns, and a mass. This collection was digitized by Jarret Brown, who received the Rave Records master recordings following Timmer's death.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Digital files were provided by Jarret Brown, who received the Rave Records master recordings following Timmer's death.

Rave Records Collection
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Repository Details

Part of the Lehigh University Special Collections Repository

Lehigh University
Linderman Library
30 Library Drive
Bethlehem PA 18045 USA
610-758-6091 (Fax)