he was 73-years-of-age and had been in declining health and had emphysema, friend Mark Mazur said.
Known for instrumental hits such as “Red River Rock” and “Beatnik Fly,” the Rossford-based Johnny & the Hurricanes — fronted by saxophone player Johnny Paris — gained international fans.
“It was a big deal, the local group out of a small town to make it nationally and internationally, especially in the early days of rock and roll,” said Mazur, who grew up a half-block from Yorko.
Yorko left school to join the Hurricanes at age 17. They toured the Midwest, around the United States and internationally, and appeared on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand several times.
“Red River Rock” sold more than a million copies and reached No. 5 on charts in the United States and No. 3 in Britain.
Mr. Yorko was among the first to leave the Hurricanes, and he later played with several northwest Ohio bands, including the BG Ramblers, Kay Yeager and the Dominoes, Dave and the Orbits, and the Fascinators.
After leaving music, Mr. Yorko began a three-decades career at Libbey-Owens-Ford Co. and retired in 1997.
“He got tired of being on the road and wanted a normal life, so he walked away from it,” Mr. Mazur said.
Tom's Take: 'Red River Rock' was the first 45 rpm record I ever purchased.