Peter, Paul and Mary

  • Folk group from New York City, formed in 1961. The members were Peter Yarrow, Noel Paul Stookey, and Mary Travers, all vocalists. Travers died in 2009 of the side effects of chemotherapy treatment for leukemia, at the age of 72. Yarrow and Stookey continue to perform today as a duo.
  • The trio was created when manager Albert Grossman auditioned various singers in New York City, intending to create a folk group in 1961. He selected the three, and after rehearsals, he booked them at the folk music club The Bitter End in Greenwich Village.
  • In 1962, they released their first album, the self titled Peter, Paul and Mary. It was a smash hit, selling over 2 million copies in the U.S., and peaking at #1 for 7 weeks. The single, a cover of If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song), written by folk legend Pete Seeger and Lee Hays, won 2 Grammy awards.
  • Two albums were released in 1963 – Moving peaked at #2 and In The Wind topped the album chart. Top 10 singles from these albums were Puff (The Magic Dragon) and 2 Bob Dylan songs, Blowin’ In the Wind (winning 2 more Grammys) and Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright.
  • The group performed If I Had a Hammer and Blowin’ In the Wind at the famous 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech in his call to end racism in society. Throughout their careers in the 60s, Peter, Paul and Mary were activists in the anti-war movement, enduring tear gas and police beatings.
  • From 1964 to 1969, they released 6 studio albums and 1 live album. Their biggest selling single, and only #1 song, was Leaving On a Jet Plane, a cover of the song written by John Denver.
  • The trio broke up in 1970 to pursue solo careers. Travers released 5 solo records, and produced/wrote/starred in a BBC TV series. Stookey formed a Christian music group, The Body Works Band, and he wrote the famous The Wedding Song (There Is Love) for Yarrow’s marriage to his wife. Yarrow co-wrote and produced the #1 single Torn Between Two Lovers by Mary MacGregor, and he won an Emmy award for 3 TV animated specials based on Puff the Magic Dragon. 
  • The band did a reunion tour in 1978, which was so successful that they reformed in 1981 and performed around 45 shows per year, until Travers’ death. They also recorded new music and released 8 albums from 1978 to 2004. They never strayed from their folk music roots, and even today, Stookey and Yarrow are activists, supporting causes from World Hunger to Girl Scouts to Public Broadcasting to Greenpeace to UNICEF – 29 different organizations have benefited from their support.
  • I still remember when I was maybe 6 years old, and my sister Chris would gather the family together to play her acoustic guitar, playing Puff, the Magic Dragon. She was hooked on folk music (in fact, she still is – all music that fits the Americana genre). It’s safe to say that my very first exposure to music was the music of Peter, Paul and Mary. Here is a clip from a 1963 TV performance of If I Had a Hammer – check out their excellent harmonies. Definitely a signature sound here from the trio.

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