Bob York

2008 - Matousek Family Achievement Award

Bob York started playing music with his father’s band in 1957 as a 10-year-old accordion player.

In 1961 a rock and roll band was being formed in Spirit Lake by Terry Yarns, Denny Gamble, Ken Cunningham and Steve Lutz. They were known as the Torkays. Bob started hanging around the practices and eventually brought his past musical experience along with his Kay Amplifier and some pickups to rehearsals. He attached his equipment to the Cunningham family piano and convinced the band they needed a piano player. Bob was 14 with a recently acquired school driving permit that “somehow” enabled him to drive to Spirit Lake from his home in Estherville for practices and eventually performances in other towns. The Hammond organ, a rather large instrument, was cut in half for transportation purposes and reassembled where and when needed.

The Torkays split up in the summer of 1964. Yarns and Gamble started the Dentairs while the remaining Torkays (Cunningham and York) added Terry Upson, Mark Gentry, Dean Aakus and York’s brother Jim. The second rendition of the Torkays gained regional success with their Coulee Records release of “Linda, I’m Worried So.”

York joined “Lord Calvert & the Extras” in 1965. Fellow members were Sam French, Brad Anderson, Dale Clarken and Steve White. The band played the ballroom circuit extensively.

When Bob married Linda Nielsen in 1966, he became the drummer for a trio that included his brother Jim York and guitarist Jerry Upson. They hit the club circuit for the remainder of the 60’s.

During the early 70’s he joined up with Denny Storey, of "Peter Rabbit" fame, as a duo; then teamed up with famed guitarist Curt Powell and his band out of Sioux Falls, S.D.

In 1973 he was offered the opportunity to work with George Arnold and Kevin King in a group called “George” which developed a strong following due to their outstanding harmonies. Soon Rusty Davis and Terry Klein of the Upson Downs incorporated “George” into their group. This highly successful band entertained for several years with Bob gaining a reputation as an outstanding keyboardist.

Bob became the keyboard player for the legendary “Gas Company” in the late 1970’s. Later he would play with the Mike Hanson Band, the Denny Storey band, Two Out of Three and the Okoboji Show Band before establishing the band “Daybreak” with Steve Streit and Dean Aakhus in 1986.

Due to his tremendous talent, York worked as sideman for the Coasters, the Platters and the Drifters in the late 1980’s. He decided to go solo in the early 90’s, reestablishing a working relationship with an old friend, singer Sandy Griffiths. They performed and recorded as “The Headliners” for many years.

Hot Rod Chevy Kevy utilized Bob’s talents in the late 90’s. The Mosquito Flats were formed by John Senn, Shane Von Holdt, Al Klein and York in the year 2000 followed by a five-year stint with Frankie and the Cruisers.

Since 2006, Bob has filled in occasionally with bands but has been unable to play on a full time basis due to health constraints. York has played with a variety of Hall of Fame artists and is known throughout the Midwest as an outstanding musician. He has spent his life entertaining and sharing his musical talents. It is most fitting that he is a 2008 recipient of the IRRMA Dan Matousek Lifetime Achievement Award. Welcome to the Hall of Fame Bob!

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