Folk Music: The Kingston Trio

I will now take a look at some music that came at the end of my teenage years and into my early twenties, around 58 to 62.  I was (I thought) becoming more sophisticated, I was dressing better and even thought I was becoming an Intellectual (boy was I wrong), so you know where I am going with this one.

I had listened to Pete Seeger years before (although I did not know it) as my Dad liked a group called “The Weavers” and specifically an old Leadbelly song called “Goodnight Irene“.  So I always liked Folk Music, I was just too young (I was 10) to know what it really was.

My Dad (my music influence), liked big band, honky tonk, dixieland, country and most up-tempo music (even the new music called Rock and Roll).  I will always remember him playing 12th Street Rag by Pee Wee Hunt.

As usual I digress.  When the folk singing craze started to catch on in the late 50’s, I just really enjoyed it.  I will deal with most of the groups over the course in the blog, but two groups, just jump to the front of the list.  I will look back at 1958, Rock was still roaring along, but this group was starting to play the coffee houses and in one huge move they went to #1 on Billboard.  I give you –

The Kingston Trio

Dave Guard, Bob Shane, and Nick Reynolds

  • Dave Guard (Donald David Guard, October 19, 1934 – March 22, 1991)
  • Bob Shane (born Robert Castle Schoen, February 1, 1934)
  • Nick Reynolds (Nicholas Wells Reynolds, July 27, 1933 – October 1, 2008),

The Kingston Trio

1.   Tom Dooley/  Capitol 4049/ 10/6/58/ # 1 Billboard (recorded in 1868 as “Tom Dula”)

2.   The Tijuana Jail/ Capitol 4167/ 3/30/59/ # 12 Billboard

3.   M.T.A./ Capitol 4221/ 6/29/59/ # 15 Billboard

4.   A Worried Man/ Capitol 4271/ 9/21/59/ # 20 Billboard (American folk song Worried man Blues)

5.   El Matador/ Capitol 4338/ 3/14/60/ # 32 Billboard

6.   Bad Man Blunder/ Capitol 4379/ 8/8/60/ # 32 Billboard

7.   Where have all the Flowers Gone/ Capitol 4671/ 3/3/62/ # 21 Billboard

8.   Greenback Dollar/ Capitol 4898/ 2/23/63/ # 21 Billboard

9.   Reverend Mr. Black/ Capitol 4951/ 4/20/63/ # 8 Billboard

10. Desert Pete/ Capitol 5005/ 8/31/63/ # 33 Billboard

The group was first formed in the spring of 1957.  At the time Dave, a graduate student at Stanford joined forces with Menlo College pals Bob and Nick.  They played in coffeehouses and basement clubs around San Francisco.

While performing at the Cracker Pat in Palo Alto, publicist Frank Werber heard them and signed them on the spot to a contract written on a table napkin.
They polished their act for a month and then began trekking across the country becoming more popular as they traveled.

Their first release, “Scarlet Ribbons“, for Capitol was in April 1958.  In October 1958, they recorded “Tom Dooley” which became the group’s only number one recording.


This song MTA was written in 1948 and the melody is based on a song I remember called “The wreck of the old 97”

In 1961, Dave Guard left the group and was replaced by John Stewart, who at one time sang with The Cumberland Three.  (John would go on to have a Solo hit in 1979 with “Gold“, for RSO records.)

Dave Guard had contracted lymphoma sometime after he moved to Rollinsford, New Hampshire. On March 22, 1991, aged 56, he succumbed to the cancer. His passing was noted and memorialized by the many good friends he had made and those he had helped both in and outside of the music industry during the ensuing years.

In 2000 The Kingston Trio was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame.

Nick Reynolds died on October 1, 2008, in San Diego, California from acute respiratory disease.


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