1957 America was ready for a new style of music. Just out of college,
Bob Shane, Nick Reynolds and Dave Guard took dormant folk music
and gave it a comic twist irresistible to the college crowd (and
just about everyone else). The music was rooted in American Popular
culture, but performed with a refreshing style that now seems
timeless. Like the Beatles, The Kingston Trio created a national
audience for their new style of music, causing a ripple effect
on the entire music industry. When Tom Dooley went gold in 1958,
the folk revival was born. In no time The Limeliters, The Brothers
Four, Chad Mitchell and The Smothers Bros. all found an audience.
It was this "folk revival" that set the stage for Bob
Dylan, Joan Baez, Peter Paul & Mary, The Byrds, and the protest
movement of the 60s.
then unknown Trio was playing at the Cracked Pot in the spring
of '57. In the audience was Frank Werber, a young publicist who
was making a name for himself in the San Francisco nightclub scene.
Werber was captivated by the spontaneity of their performance,
and approached the band as they were packing their insturments
after the show. They talked into the morning, and by the time
the bartender was ready to lock up, The Trio had a manager, a
contract (signed on a paper napkin!) and a name, The Kingston
Trio, chosen for its Ivy League/Calypso crossover appeal.
band worked tirelessly to refine the music and polish their act.
Werber arranged for them to work with Judy Davis, San Francisco's
finest voice coach. After months of work, they were booked at
the Purple Onion, San Francisco's "discovery club".
They were an overnight sensation. A one week booking turned into
a sold out run that lasted for months. Established entertainers
such as Mort Sahl caught their show, and word began to spread
throughout the show business world. The first KT tour took them
from casinos in Reno to the nation's premier nightclubs, such
as New York's Village Vanguard & Blue Angel, and Chicago's
the Summer of '58, The Kingston Trio returned to San Francisco,
playing a four month standing room only run at the famous Hungry
i nightclub. During this period the group also recorded their
first album, which enjoyed mild success. That Fall, The Trio went
to Honolulu to play at The Royal Hawiian. It gave Dave and Bob
some time at home, unaware of what was happening on the mainland.
Bill Terry and Paul Colburn, DJs at KLUB in Salt Lake City, took
a liking to one of the songs on the first KT album and gave it
heavy airplay. Other stations across the country picked the song
up and and clamored for Capitol Records to release it as a single.
Capitol's vice president, Voyle Gilmore, called Frank Werber in
Hawaii. "Get those boys back here" he said, "It
looks like you're going to have the record of the year."
prediction was no exaggeration. The song was TOM DOOLEY, and this
was the beginning of a meteoric sucess that has become a show
business legend. When the Trio returned from Hawaii, Tom Dooley
was the number one song in the nation. Milton Berle, Perry Como,
Dinah Shore & Patti Page all signed the Trio to appear on
their shows. The Trio also remained loyal to their college audience,
playing college shows every other day over the next six months.
In those first four whirlwind years with Dave Guard, the Trio
cut ten albums. The Dec. 12 issue of Billboard magazine listed
four Trio albums among the top 10, a feat unsurpassed to this
day. Voyle Gilmore of Capitol records produced the group's top
records. A gifted producer, his stellar work with The Kingston
Trio & Frank Sinatra is still enjoyed by millions of music