Kingston Trio Co-Founder Bob Shane Dead at 85
Bob Shane, a folk pioneer who made his mark as a co-founder of the legendary Kingston Trio, has died. According to multiple media reports, the resident of Phoenix, Ariz., died on Sunday (Jan. 26) at the age of 85 from complications from pneumonia.
Robert Schoen was born in Hilo, Hawaii, on Feb. 1, 1934. He formed the Kingston Trio with his junior high school friend and longtime collaborator Dave Guard and Nick Reynolds, a college friend, during the 1950s while attending college in San Francisco, Calif. After running through a period of experimenting with other lineups while performing in nightclubs in San Francisco, the three re-committed to the core original lineup and signed with a manager, who helped whip their act into shape and landed them a series of first local, then national bookings.
That led to a recording contract with Capitol Records, which released the Kingston Trio's self-titled first album in June of 1958. That album scored a No. 1 hit with "Tom Dooley," which in turn spurred the trio's debut album to No. 1. The Kingston Trio won a Grammy for Best Country & Western Performance for "Tom Dooley" at the first-ever Grammy Awards in 1959, at a time during which no folk category existed.
The Grammys created a folk category the next year, and the trio also won the Best Performance - Folk award for The Kingston Trio at Large. They would become one of the leading lights of the folk movement that swept popular music in the late '50s and the '60s, placing a string of influential hits that included "Where Have All the Flowers Gone," "Greenback Dollar," "Reverend Mr. Black" and more.
The Kingston Trio would go on to a run of success that helped pave the way for the folk troubadours and folk-rock movement of the '60s, as well as the singer-songwriters and country-rock of the '70s. Those artists would, in turn, pave the way for future country, new folk and Americana artists. The original lineup remained intact until 1961, when Guard resigned over disagreements about finances and credits. John Stewart came in to replace him, and the Kingston Trio soldiered on until 1967, when the group went on hiatus.
Shane would revive the group with a new lineup as the New Kingston Trio in 1967, and the group has continued in various permutations virtually ever since, encompassing a number of other musicians over the decades. The original Kingston Trio reunited for a concert in 1981.
Guard died of lymphoma in 1991 at the age of 56, and Reynolds followed in 2008 at the age of 75 after battling acute respiratory disease. "Tom Dooley" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998, and the Kingston Trio's legacy earned them a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011.
Shane retired in 2004, but performed off and on until 2016. He is survived by his wife of 19 years, Bobbie Childress, five children and eight grandchildren.
Remembering the Country Artists Who Died in 2019: