Ivan John Krilcich was born on October 14, 1907, in Monaco, Pennsylvania. At the age of six, he was taken to Yugoslavia by his parents (this was during World War I). Since the war was going on, they were forced to stay in Yugoslavia. John went to a public school in Yugoslavia and after graduating in 1923, came back to the United States and settled in New Brighton, Pennsylvania.
Here, he met some tamburasi, and to join them, he ordered a prim from Novi Sad. Then he started learning, through books and his teacher, the late George Vugrinich. At the same time, he played with the late Jim Brozvich and the late Mike Crnjak at a New Brighton boarding house.
In 1930, he joined with Tom Celic (Curly), Lovra Loncar, Matt Prigorac, John Sudar, and Paul Verban. Then, in 1931, he moved to Detroit, Michigan, with no luck in finding a job. He then moved to Chicago. He only had a little experience in playing the bugarija and bass, so he filled in here and there with different orchestras.
Soon afterwards, the late Mr. John Plasay organized the "Javor Tamburitzans", with Pete Savic, Elizabeth Plasay, Slavko Hlad, Joe Pavelka, and John. They stayed together for many years and played in Illinois and Indiana. They also made three phonograph records for the Columbia Recording Company.
In 1939, John left the "Javor Tamburitzans" and went back to New Brighton, Pennsylvania, and joined the "Jorgovan Orchestra", with members Nick Chvlovic, Nick Kostalic, John Carol, and Vinko Siktar. This did not last long, so he went to Pittsburgh and joined the Djoko Dokich "Balkan Tamburitzans", with Melvin Dokich, Steve and Joe Latkovic, and John Pavkovich. They would play four to seven days a week and were always on the go. In July 1941, the Balkans went to play in Detroit. While they were there, they cut three phonograph records for the Zora Recording Company. After leaving Detroit, they went back to Chicago and broke up, all the guys going their different ways and leaving John alone.
In 1941, he went back to Detroit and joined the "Yugoslav Serenaders". Along with Mirko Kolesar, Louis Golic, and Dave Zupkovich, John would play four nights a week. They also played on the Yugoslav and Croatian Radio Hour.
On June 16, 1942, John was drafted in the US Army and in 1943 he was discharged. He then went back to Detroit to join Mirko Kolesar, Joe Skornjak, Andy Culik, Bob Tkalac, and Pete Perec. In 1945, they went to Gary, Indiana, for engagements at the Nite Rose Club. It was here that they broke up.
John stayed in Chicago and organized the "Balkan Record Tamburitza Orchestra", with Roko Abramovich, Steve Vucinic, Tom Stepancic, and Vaso Bukvic. They also incorporated the Balkan Recording Company with Mr. Slavko (Louie) Hlad as president. They stayed together for about three years and cut many records for the Balkan Recording Company. In 1948, John went to Youngstown, Ohio, and joined up with the late Dave Zupkovich, Joe Matacic, and Pete Radakovich. They were called the "Dave Zupkovich Balkan Records Orchestra".
As the years went by, there were many changes in the group. Some of the men that came and went were Marty Kapugi, Lex Ellison, Tony Markulin, Louie Markulin, and Joe Marmilic. They recorded for the Balkan Recording Company, Continental Recording Company, and RCA Victor. They also broadcasted from Youngstown, Sharon, Braddock, and Pittsburgh.
In 1956, John quit the Dave Zupkovich Orchestra and got married. As of today, he still is in the record business. He sells tamburas, music, songbooks, and records under the name of Balkan Record Distribution Company.
Also, John's son and daughters play the tambura.