Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

KINGSTON TRIO, The

Commercial folk trio formed in 1957; with short hair and matching shirts they avoided the left-wing taint usually applied to folk groups: Bob Shane (b 1 February 1934, Hilo, Hawaii), Nick Reynolds (b 27 July 1933, San Diego CA; d there 1 October 2008), Dave Guard (b 19 November 1934, San Francisco; d 22 March 1991, Concord NH) all played guitars, banjos and sang. Their no. 1 hit with 'Tom Dooley' '58 was something of a coup, the nearest thing to American folk music in the top ten since the Weavers in 1950-1. (The song was from 'Tom Dula', 1866, about an innocent man hanged for murder; collected and performed by Frank Proffitt: b 1913, Laurel Bloomery TN; d 24 November 1965; the song had also been recorded '52 for Elektra by Frank Warner.)

The Kingston Trio had 17 Hot 100 entries 1958-63; 'M.T.A.' '59 was about a man who must 'ride forever 'neath the streets of Boston' because he doesn't have a ticket to get off the subway; but the only other top ten was 'Reverend Mr Black' '63; both big hits also did well in the R&B chart. Guard wrote 'Scotch And Soda', which became something of a cabaret standard; he left to go solo '61 (his Whiskey Hill Singers released an album '62), replaced by John Stewart. The trio had 23 chart LPs, of which four stayed in the charts two years, indicating a hunger for folk music that was not being met by the music industry until Peter, Paul and Mary, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, others came along. Twenty LPs were on Capitol of which 14 were in the top ten; they switched to Decca in 1965. The last chart entry in 1969 was a two-disc set on Tetragrammaton, made live '66 in Las Vegas. They split '67 as Reynolds quit and Stewart returned to a solo career (see his entry).

A new Kingston Trio in 1973 included Shane, Roger Gambill and George Grove; all six were together on a PBS TV special '82. In 1983 Reynolds and Stewart joined with Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac for the album Revenge of the Budgie. Reynolds performed with yet another edition of the Trio from 1988 to 1999. Reynolds and Stewart also ran an annual fantasy camp in Scottsdale Arizona, where fans could indulge a fantasy by joining them onstage.