John R. Loken was born in a small town in Iowa on October, 23 1952. He grew up with his sister Mary Gibson in Watertown, SD with their parents Cora and Robert Loken.

During his childhood he was involved in the Grace Lutheran Church, his high school band, jazz band, and the Watertown Swim Team (where he still holds state records in the breast stroke). John was instrumental in starting the American Music Band, one of this year’s inductees. After graduating from Watertown High School in 1970, he attended USD in Vermillion. John toured the Midwest with two different bands—Nickel Bag of Soul and Priceless as their  sax player. Both bands have been inducted into the South Dakota Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. John's love for music came through with every note he played.

Loken later studied jazz at North Texas State University, and then moved to Oregon for almost a decade. He found a passion for desert life—he moved to Laughlin, NV. That’s where he stayed for the past thirty years.

Later in John's life his birth mother reached out to him, and introduced him to eleven other brothers and sisters (who over the years enriched his life).

In 1990, he became a father to his daughter and greatest love, Abby. In 2005, he married his best friend, Sandie, and gained two step daughters. Together John and Sandie traveled the states, where he shared with her his passion for hiking, rock hunting and taking pictures of all the beauty around him. Throughout the past eleven years he also became a "Papa" to five grandchildren.

John was a remarkable storyteller anywhere he went. He spent many years in the casino industry working in many different aspects, ranging from dealing, to slots, marketing, management, and MC-ing tournaments.

John touched so many lives, whether it was by a conversation or with a picture. He made an imprint on this world—John Loken walked for miles and miles in search of knowledge of the footprints that had gone before him.


2016Spirit of the Music Award