The Kingston Trio Christmas
No stranger to holiday music, The Kingston Trio recorded The Last Month of the Year, the first of their three holiday albums, in 1960. Their Christmas show mixes holiday music from those albums with old favorites like “Tom Dooley,” “Scotch and Soda,” and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone.”
The Kingston Trio History
Best known for rejuvenating folk music in the late 1950s, The Kingston Trio paved the way for future folk sensations like Bob Dylan, The Byrds and Peter, Paul, and Mary. Fusing traditional folk lyrics and melodies with calypso and country, they also changed the course of future popular music by influencing artists like the Bee Gees, The Beach Boys and Jefferson Airplane.
The Trio occasionally played throughout college and came together after graduation in 1957 to play a show at a beer garden called The Cracked Pot. The group took dormant folk music and gave it a comedic twist irresistible to the college crowd. The spontaneity of the show impressed up-and-coming publicist, Frank Werber. They signed a contract on a paper napkin that night and called themselves The Kingston Trio, after the calypso music coming out of Kingston, Jamaica at the time.
Werber put the group on a strict rehearsal schedule, eventually booking them at clubs like the Purple Onion – a club known for influencing local music and entertainment during the Beat Generation. They were an instant success. By 1958 their second single, “Tom Dooley,” was No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and remained on the charts for five months.
The group received a Grammy® for the song in 1959 and a Billboard Award® for Best New Singing Group. Celebrities like Perry Como and Dinah Shore signed the trio to play their shows and over the next four years they cut ten albums. “Tom Dooley” was added to the Library of Congress’ National Registry of Historically Significant Recordings in 2008.
In 1961, banjo and guitar player Dave Guard left the group. John Stewart, best known for composing The Monkees’ hit “Daydream Believer,” joined in Guard’s place.
“John was a natural,” member Nick Reynolds said. They enjoyed six productive years with Stewart and released thirteen more albums, with some of their most successful singles such as “Where Have All The Flowers Gone?” and “Greenback Dollar.” But, by 1967, popular music tastes had changed to psychedelic rock and the group disbanded. In 1968, member Bob Shane formed a new incarnation of the group called The New Kingston Trio and played with several different members over the years including George Grove, Roger Gambill and Bill Zorn.
In 1982 a number of the band’s alumni reunited for the PBS special “The Kingston Trio and Friends Reunion.” Shortly after, they recorded a greatest hits album called 25 Years Non-Stop, and in 1983 released a collection of new songs called Looking for the Sunshine. The group was successfully touring when, in 1985, Roger Gambill suddenly died of a heart attack.
Filling Gambill’s shoes was difficult, but the group managed with Bob Haworth, previously of the folk singing group The Brothers Four. After retirements and illnesses, the group members have changed many times since the 1950s. Today, the trio consists of George Grove, Bill Zorn and Rick Dougherty.
George Grove was born in Hickory, North Carolina in 1947. He attended Wake Forest University where he majored in music. While at Wake Forest, he spent several summers entertaining US military personnel in Alaska and Europe. After graduating in 1969, he played trumpet and piano in the Army Band for two years, and spent time in Nashville working as a studio musician. In 1976, Bob Shane invited him to join The Kingston Trio.In his time away from touring with the group, Grove arranges and scores orchestral music, produces albums for other artists, and does session work as a musician and vocalist.
Bill Zorn won national awards in television as a teenage variety show host, toured the world with three of the country’s top folk groups and produced albums in England and America. He has also acted in British dramas and comedies, provided voiceovers for documentaries and cartoons, and published dozens of his own songs.
After four years as the leader of The New Christy Minstrels and three years in The Kingston Trio, Zorn moved to England in 1977. In his 20 years in England, he had a hit record, a successful folk band, and more. He came back in 1997 to help revive the Limeliters, and after seven years with them he is enjoying his current adventure; once again touring with The Kingston Trio.
Rick Dougherty has over 30 years of experience as a guitarist, songwriter, performer, arranger, and director, but is best known for his soaring tenor voice. He began playing guitar in college with a particular interest in finger-styles, and within a year he appeared in Pasadena coffee houses.Dougherty is a seasoned entertainer. He plays the banjo, guitar, bass, and piano; he is also a songwriter and arranger, and possesses a flair for comedy, which perfectly fits in with The Kingston Trio’s appeal.