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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bob Cook RIP

Bob Cook was a legendary solo performer in Iowa who touched a lot of people with his songs and voice. He probably won't be remembered as a bluesman, but he certainly helped a lot of us who were trying to play solo gigs. How to perform in front of an audience, How to get the right sound, and how to promote yourself as an artist. A lot of us who later on played solo blues gigs owed a lot to him and the doors he opened up for us. He will be missed.

Here is a touching Obit from the Des Moines Register. Please click on this link to read it on the Register website.

obit photo


Des Moines

You've heard my voice

"You've heard my voice". Is that a song by folksinger Bob Gibson or a live music album by Des Moines entertainer Bob Cook? Well, both and if you have been anywhere close to Iowa for the last thirty-five years or so, you HAVE heard the unmistakable voice of Bob Cook. That voice was hushed on March 6, 2009 when Bob died quietly at Kavanagh House on 56th street.

We heard that voice on radio and TV ads that ranged from banks and insurance to tractors, sewer and seed corn. One local producer said "You either have Bob doing your commercials or you want him to". When the voice said "We Love Iowa", we did. When he sang "UFS, It's The Best" we knew it was. When his was the voice of the Iowa State Fair telling us to go and have a good time, we went and we did. In a sewer service TV ad, he raised a twirling finger to the camera as his voice told us to remember the roto-rooter motion. We remembered. His own TV show "Cross County" on KCCI , gave us a chance to see AND hear Bob and bass player and friend Gary Audsley make the crisp kind of seamless music that we only guessed was possible. As the Willard half of radio's "Willard and Rafert" with pal Brent Webster, he made us laugh. When the voice was dulled down to make Willard a foil for the just-barely- sharper Rafert character, we laughed so hard we wet our pants. We laughed so hard we almost forgot to buy the tractors and seed corn. Ag radio and the advertising community stopped laughing only long enough to shell out its highest awards.

We heard that voice at "The Waterhole", a Des Moines nightclub started by Bob and Carole Cook. "The Waterhole" was a school of sorts where we learned about a new kind of entertainment offered to us, the "listening" kind. It said so right on the wall as we went in. "Listening entertainment". We learned what good lights and good sound could do for a voice we already wanted to hear. He shared his microphone with Doc and Merle Watson, Bob Gibson and Mickey Newbury. He and Brent even taught a young Jimmy Buffet some songs and chords a long time ago in New Orleans according to Buffet's book. Stage and microphone presence was most certainly lesson number two. His voice introduced us to all sorts of music from Irish and folk to bluegrass and country.

His voice came from somewhere deep inside. We tried to watch and listen for hints or clues of a coming phrase or punch line. Some say the give-away was in the very beginning of his smile and it was almost always behind a microphone. Thankfully.

A gathering celebrating the life of Bob Cook will be held at a later date with place and time to be announced. There vill be singink. There vill be dansink.

Online condolences may be made to


Anonymous said...

Bob was the voice of Des Moines,
Myself and many others will miss him.
If you had ever been to the "Water hole" and listened to Bob's music you
were lucky, his smooth voice and variety of music made for a wonderful evening out.
Rest in peace Bob.

Anonymous said...

Bob was amazing! Not only as a performer, writer & picker, but as a friend. He & I sat for many long hours at his home discussing music and life. He kept a journal of life and it reads like a poem. If you were ever lucky enough to hear him live, you know how much is unique voice will be missed.I will miss him very, very much! Pat S

Anonymous said...

Bob was a wonderful singer, and his music will live forever.

Anonymous said...

Bob and I became friends at the Waterhole. Bob let me keep a guitar back stage and I'd drop in late at night after work and sing. I have wonderful memories of Bob, Gary, Dave Plummer and all the crew at the Waterhole. Bob was an inspiration and I'll miss him. Thank you, Bob, for your "gift of song." - Tom Ivey

Unknown said...

Yes, Bob was amazing,by his self as well with Gary. But don't forget Dave. When the WATERHOLE 1 opened on MERLE HAY RD.they were the BOB COOK TRIO. The music and entertainment was THE BEST EVER! Not all know but many of Bob's fans in the mid 70's helped him open his club by donating time & materials tohelp him make it happen & he gracioucely acknowleged them on his GRAND OPENING NIGHT. A night to remember.

Anonymous said...

I was fortunate enough to have Bob & Gary play regularly at my coffeehouse "Starry Night" I never tired of his performances.

Good bye old friend, you are sorely missed.


Blues Historian said...

HI Chuck

Good to here from you again. Are you still in the coffee house/music business?? We can always use another venue for original music.