End of an Era: Bob Shane Passes, 85.

concert book of the original trio 1958-1962: left to right–Bob Shane, Dave Guard (died 1991), Nick Reynolds (below, died 2008)

(concert program of 2nd KT version: quavery-voiced new guy on left: John Stewart (who later had hit singles “Daydream Believer” and “Gold”; this version performed from 1962-67)


Bob was the leader and chief baritone voice-guitarist of the legendary Kingston Trio. The Trio launched what was called the Folk Era with the release of the single “Tom Dooley” in 1958, which peaked at No. 1 on the charts.

The group had 14 of its albums in the top 10, with 5 of them reaching #1. 7 of them remained on the charts for more than a year. It had 8 top 40 hits. 7 gold albums with 2-4 selling a million copies. They won 2 of 8 Grammy nominations.

The top chart singles:
Tom Dooley, 1958 #1
The Tijuana Jail, 1959 #12
MTA, 1959 #15
A Worried Man, 1959 #20
Where Have All the Flowers Gone? 1962 #21
Greenback Dollar, 1963 #21 (with the bleeped out “damn” on the single version)
Reverend Mr. Black, 1963 #12
Desert Pete, 1963 #33

(all their music  on Capitol)


Below is a letter I wrote to Shane in August 20, 2012.

Hi Mr. Shane,

Trust this finds you comfortable and well.
A somewhat belated appreciation/thank-you letter from a long-time 63-year-old Canadian fan.

I first heard the trio in the summer of 1958 when I was about 8 at a friend of my father’s place in Winnipeg, Manitoba (where I grew up). He had just bought a new stereophonic record player and was showing it off to us, playing Mancini’s Peter Gunn and the first album of the Kingston Trio. Who could ever forget a first hearing of “Tom Dooley”?

After that, I was hooked and enjoyed the various singles that got air play on AM radio through the’50s and ’60s–“The Tijuana Jail”, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” (sorry PPM, the KT version was the more haunting, affecting version for me), “MTA” (what a crazy lyric!), “Worried Man” (that great final verse), “Greenback Dollar” (with “damn” bleeped out!), and the curious Stewart showcases “Desert Pete” and “Reverend Mr. Black”. Such an exciting, powerful range, so many truly great, remarkable songs.

I remember, later in my teens, babysitting two teachers’ kids and playing/discovering the previously-unknown treasures on their parents’ Greatest Hits album–“Raspberries, Strawberries”, “Merry Minuet”, “Take Her Out of Pity”, “Everglades”, the very funny “Bad Man’s Blunder” (a kind of cheeky humor which marked me for life), and your own signature cool, sexy, jazzy “Scotch and Soda”. Like so many other people my age, I started buying the cool KT style shirts and bought a banjo. (Unfortunately, I bought a 4 string which didn’t quite reproduce the folky 5-string KT sound so I settled on becoming a guitar player instead pretty fast.)

As the hootenany era was peaking simultaneously with the Beatles’ 1963-4 onslaught, I first taught myself to play guitar and sing “Tom Dooley”. Later, in ’67, as part of a duo, I sang your version of “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” at an anti-Vietnam demonstration in Winnipeg. Over the years, I learned many of the KT songs, including those haunting Stewarts “For those Who Are Wise” and “Weeping Willow”. I sang “The Merry Minuet” to a very appreciative high school crowd in the ’90s (I taught h.s. English for 30 years)–talk about a timeless song! And more KT hits at two folk retro shows around 2000, again at my school.

Well, what goes around comes around, of course. In the past three years, I have been ‘catching up’, buying numerous KT CDs, LPs, books, songbooks, programs and the like, and recently a rare signed program of the original trio. Currently, I am listening to and replaying the #16, New Frontier, and Time to Think albums a lot and savouring the terrific harmonies, arrangements, humor, and above all the spirit of the equally strong KT2 lineup. Wow!

More and more, though, I have come to appreciate your own vocal stylings, choices of songs, lead and melody parts, and how much you anchored and were the leader and core stability that has been the great Kingston Trio over the long years.

As is often quoted, I’ll repeat “The Kingston Trio was first” and I would add “the best”. And, I’ll just add, finally, a personal thanks for how much you and the first two trios influenced my own life, directions, music, sensibility, and spirit.

Take care, Bob.
All the Best,

Richard Davies
Big Fan
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada


(two nice DVDs on the trio; feature live performances)


This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply