Sunday, January 18, 2009
Yahoo LAUNCHCAST Song Of The Day-The Kingston Trio
Though I wouldn't describe The Kingston Trio as innovators, their 1958 #1 hit Tom Dooley was very instrumental in popularizing folk music and opening up doors for the ensuing folk boom. The Kingston Trio were formed in 1957 in Palo Alto, CA. Dave Guard was a graduate student at Stanford University and Bob Shane and Nick Reynolds were students at Menlo College. They started hanging around together in local folk clubs. They first worked together in a group called Dave Guard & The Calypsonians. Guard was inspired by the success of The Weavers and Harry Belafonte's Day-O. After some personnel shuffling (Reynolds left and then returned and a couple of others were kicked out), they called themselves The Kingston Trio. Publicist Frank Werber became their manager and he got them a week at The Purple Onion in San Francisco opening for Phyllis Diller in 1957. They were spotted by Bob Hope's agent Jimmy Saphier and he sent their demo to Capitol Records. Capitol sent producer Voyle Gilmore (The Four Freshmen) to see them and a short term contract was signed. They went on tour and worked on their live act for a while and then recorded their 1958 debut album The Kingston Trio. Tom Dooley was the second single. It reached #1 on the pop charts and so did the album. They had several more hit singles but none as big as Tom Dooley. This Rhino various artists comp has several folk hits. It's the album charts where they really made their mark as the next several Kingston Trio albums all hit #1. Dave Guard left in 1961 to form The Whiskey Hill Singers and was replaced by John Stewart. They continued to have success until The Beatles came along. The Kingston Trio split up in 1967. Bob Shane started The New Kingston Trio in 1969 and usually led versions of the group over the years. A version of the group still tours though Shane retired due to health problems in 2005. Dave Guard died in 1991 and Nick Reynolds died in Oct. 2008. I think it's fair to say that the popularity of The Kingston Trio led to the folk boom of the early 60s. Here's The Kingston Trio performing a medley including Tom Dooley on the Andy Williams Show Feb. 1967. This was apparently their final TV appearance before their split.