Steve York Has Died

Steve York always had a great story to tell – a historical background to a photo or a video with him in – and it didn’t feel too surprising, given the bassist extraordinaire graced many a significant ensemble with his sonic presence. Sonic – because York prefered to stay in the back (the background, you see?) and be heard rather than seen. That’s why a lot of rock connoisseurs may not realize it was Steve who laid down bottom end on such remarkable albums as Marianne Faithfull’s “Broken English” for which he co-penned a few numbers, or EAST OF EDEN’s “Mercator Projected” that featured not only his four strings but also his harmonica.

These two LPs seemed to measure the breadth of York’s stylistic reach – yet one should remember Steve served as a staff member in the rhythm-and-blues heroes VINEGAR JOE, together with Elkie Brooks and Robert Palmer, and obscure punk outfit KICKS, with Paul Rudolph on guitar, and that’s without mentioning his powerful contribution to MANFRED MANN CHAPTER THREE and “That’s The Way We Are” by CHICKEN SHACK.

Among those the veteran played with were Eric Clapton and Chuck Berry, Arthur Brown and Laura Branigan – the last two pulled him in the studio, too; York’s bass boomed on the platters by Dr. John and Graham Bond, Joan Armatrading and Sam Mitchell. There was no time for a solo career, and Steve was quite humble to embark on such an enterprise, but still he came up with a project called CAMELO PARDALIS: a kind of concept album which featured his friends, including KING CRIMSON’s Ian Wallace, Boz Burrell and Marc Charig, and PATTO’s Ollie Halsall and Mike Patto, who brought the bassist’s idea to life on “Manor Live” in 1973.

Steve continued to play until last year when he was diagnosed with cancer. York tried to remain positive even when insurance company let him down. Steve even tried to be hopeful a few days ago when his and his wife’s tests for Covid-19 detected the virus and then his test proved to be negative. Sadly, when Lisa came back from hospital today she found that her husband has passed away, aged 72. Finally free from pain, Steve York went for the great gig in the sky. He will be sorely missed, and I can’t forgive myself for delaying the interview we planned.

October 14, 2020

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