Torok was born in Houston, Texas to Hungarian immigrants Naclos and Irene Torok. He was playing guitar by the age of 12, and attended Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas from 1948 through 1952. He minored in world history and graduated with a degree in art and journalism. Torok played baseball with a team from Garrison, Texas while in college.
In 1953, Jim Reeves' Abbott Records recording of Torok's penned, "Mexican Joe", become a number one hit. Torok was signed with Abbott; and later that year, he had a number one hit in both the Billboard country and jukebox charts with "Caribbean". The song, which remained on the country chart for 24 weeks, also became a top five hit on both the Best Sellers and Disc Jockey charts.
Torok became a member of Louisiana Hayride on KWKH-AM Shreveport. In 1954, his song "My Arabian Baby" appeared as the B-side of Hank Snow's hit "I Don't Hurt Anymore"] Torok gained a No. 9 country hit with "Hootchy Kootchy Henry (From Hawaii)", and in 1956–7, he had success on the UK Singles Chart with his songs "When Mexico Gave Up The Rhumba" and "Red Light, Green Light". This success led to him to tour the UK in 1957. Torok made further recordings for Mercury, RCA, and Starday, and his last US chart entry was "Instant Love" for the Reprise label in 1967.
He had two later hits on the Billboard Hot 100; "Pledge of Love" hit No. 25 in 1957, and "Caribbean" hit again in 1959, peaking at No. 27.In 1960, "Pink Chiffon" peaked at No. 60. and in 1996 this song was used as main title music in RKO Pictures movie Laura Smiles (2006).
Torok continued to write songs, usually working in partnership with his wife (who has used both Gayle Jones and Ramona Redd as pseudonyms), and some were recorded by artists including Skeeter Davis, Kitty Wells, Glen Campbell and Dean Martin. Hank Snow recorded "The Mysterious Lady From Martinique" on one of his last RCA albums, and "Redneck" was a top 20 hit for Vernon Oxford in 1976.
Torok joined Cedarwood Music in the late 1970s, and worked on a recording project telling the history of Nashville from 1780 to 1980. He is also an artist who painted a mural on display at the Elvis Presley Museum in Nashville, Tennessee.
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