Treasury of Claremont Music

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John York

A native of New York, John York moved to Los Angeles in 1965. John’s early childhood experience of music was rooted in religion where both his mother and grandmother played for their church; his mother also served as the church’s choir director. Compositions by J. S. Bach and the music of the Lutheran Hymnal filled his musical youth.


John is perhaps best known for his work with the Byrds from mid-1968 until late 1969, where his bass playing on such albums as Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde and Ballad of Easy Rider been praised as solid, lively, and inventive. Prior to joining The Byrds, John was a member of Sir Douglas Quintet, known for their 1965 hit single, “She’s About A Mover” and also worked as a session and touring musician for The Mamas & the Papas and Johnny Rivers. 


When John moved back to Southern California after some traveling music gigs, he settled in Claremont, the artistic capitol of Southern California’s Inland Empire region. John is a key figure in the Claremont music community and has collaborated with fellow musician, Chris Darrow, while also appearing at the Claremont Folk Music Festival as a guest solo artist with roots music superstar, Ben Harper. Since 2008, John has toured with Barry McGuire, best known for his 1965 recording of the protest-song, “Eve of Destruction”. John also performs solo and with The Jangle Brothers. 


John’s musical interests include the use of (mostly) acoustic instruments, natural singing, and bringing joy and hope to the listeners. What works best for his approach to music is less technology and more humanity. 


In describing Claremont’s music community and his connection to it, John states, “Claremont has the potential for a vibrant musical scene with so many venues for concerts and events. I have good memories of playing music at the Press years ago and will continue to perform benefit concerts at the Claremont Forum.” 


Photography by Althea Sachs