Peter, Paul and Mary
In 1968. Left to right: Paul Stookey, Peter Yarrow, and Mary Travers
|Origin||New York City, New York, U.S.|
Peter, Paul and Mary was an American folk group formed in New York City in 1961, during the American folk music revival phenomenon. The trio was composed of tenor Peter Yarrow, baritone Noel Paul Stookey and alto Mary Travers. The group's repertoire included songs written by Yarrow and Stookey, early songs by Bob Dylan as well as covers of other folk musicians. After the death of Travers in 2009, Yarrow and Stookey continued to perform as a duo under their individual names.
Mary Travers said she was influenced by Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and the Weavers. In the documentary Peter, Paul & Mary: Carry It On -- A Musical Legacy members of the Weavers discuss how Peter, Paul and Mary took over the torch of the social commentary of folk music in the 1960s.
Manager Albert Grossman created Peter, Paul and Mary in 1961, after auditioning several singers in the New York folk scene, including Dave Van Ronk, who was rejected as too idiosyncratic and uncommercial, and Carolyn Hester. After rehearsing Yarrow, Stookey and Travers out of town in Boston and Miami, Grossman booked them into The Bitter End, a coffee house, nightclub and popular folk music venue in New York City's Greenwich Village.
They recorded their debut album, Peter, Paul and Mary, the following year. It included "Lemon Tree", "500 Miles", and the Pete Seeger hit tunes "If I Had a Hammer" (subtitled "The Hammer Song") and "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?". The album was listed in the Billboard Magazine Top Ten for 10 months, including seven weeks in the No. 1 position. It remained a main catalog-seller for decades to come, eventually selling over two million copies, earning double platinum certification from the RIAA in the United States alone.
In 1963 the group released "Puff, the Magic Dragon", with music by Yarrow and words based on a poem that had been written by a fellow student at Cornell, Leonard Lipton. Despite rumors that the song refers to drugs, it is actually about the lost innocence of childhood.
That year the group performed "If I Had a Hammer" and "Blowin' in the Wind" at the 1963 March on Washington, best remembered for the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. The Bob Dylan song "Blowin' in the Wind" was one of their biggest hit singles. They also sang other Dylan songs, such as "The Times They Are a-Changin'"; "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," and "When the Ship Comes In." Their success with Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" helped Dylan's The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan album rise into the top 30; it had been released four months earlier.
In December 1969 "Leaving on a Jet Plane", written by the group's friend John Denver, became their only No. 1 single (as well as their final top 40 pop hit) and the group's sixth million-selling gold single. The track first appeared on their million-selling platinum certified Album 1700 in 1967 (which also contained their No. 9 hit "I Dig Rock and Roll Music"). Following Minnesota Sen. Eugene McCarthy's strong showing in the 1968 New Hampshire Primary, the group recorded "Eugene McCarthy For President (If You Love Your Country)" endorsing McCarthy, which was released without a record label. "Day Is Done", a No. 21 hit in June 1969 from the trio's Grammy award-winning Peter, Paul and Mommy album, was the last hot-100 hit that the trio recorded.
The trio broke up in 1970 to pursue solo careers. Also during that year Peter Yarrow was convicted of making sexual advances toward a 14-year-old girl. Years later, Yarrow received a presidential pardon from Jimmy Carter.
During 1971 and 1972 Warner Bros. released a debut solo album by each member of the group. Travers did concerts and lectures across the United States. She also produced, wrote, and starred in a BBC-TV series. Stookey formed a Christian music group called the Body Works Band. Yarrow co-wrote and produced Mary MacGregor's Torn Between Two Lovers (No. 1, 1977) and earned an Emmy for three animated TV specials based on "Puff the Magic Dragon." Stookey wrote "The Wedding Song (There is Love)" for Yarrow's marriage to Marybeth McCarthy, the niece of Eugene McCarthy, according to Stookey during an interview on the DVD Carry It On, released in 2004 by Rhino Records.
While the group was de-facto broken up and touring separately, the trio still managed to come together for a series of reunions before officially coming back together again. In 1972, the trio reunited for a concert at Madison Square Garden to support George McGovern's presidential campaign, and again in 1978, for a concert to protest against nuclear energy. This concert was followed by a 1978 summer reunion tour. Included was a September 3 evening performance at Red Rocks Amphitheatre outside of Denver, Colorado.
The summer tour in 1978 proved so popular that the group decided to reunite more or less permanently in 1981. They continued to record albums together and tour, playing around 45 shows a year, until the 2009 death of Mary Travers.
The trio would be accompanied in concert by double-bassist Dick Kniss (who had been their bassist on their studio recordings and their 1960's tours) and, starting in 1990, by multi-instrumentalist Paul Prestopino.
In 2004, Travers was diagnosed with leukemia, leading to the cancellation of the remaining tour dates for that year. She received a bone marrow transplant. She and the rest of the trio resumed their concert tour on December 9, 2005 with a holiday performance at Carnegie Hall.
The trio cancelled several dates of their summer 2007 tour, as Travers had to undergo a second surgery. Travers was unable to perform on the trio's tour in mid-2009 because of the effects of leukemia, but Peter and Paul performed the scheduled dates as a duo, calling the show "Peter & Paul Celebrate Mary and 5 Decades of Friendship."
On September 16, 2009, Mary Travers died at the age of 72, of complications from chemotherapy, following treatment for leukemia. It was the same year Peter, Paul and Mary were inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.
|Year||Titles (A-side, B-side)
Both sides from same album except where indicated
B-side: "Early in the Morning"
|35||12||-||-||-||Peter, Paul and Mary|
|"If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)"
B-side: "Gone the Rainbow" (from Moving)
|1963||"Puff (The Magic Dragon)"
B-side: "Pretty Mary"
B-side: "Tiny Sparrow"
|"Settle Down (Goin' Down That Highway)"
B-side: "500 Miles" (from Peter, Paul and Mary)
|"Blowin' in the Wind"
B-side: "Flora" (from Moving)
|2||1||-||13||11||In the Wind|
|"Don't Think Twice, It's All Right"
B-side: "Autumn to May" (from Peter, Paul and Mary)
B-side: "Cruel War" (from Peter, Paul and Mary)
B-side: "Hush-A-Bye" (from In The Wind)
|1964||"Tell it on the Mountain"
B-side: "Old Coat" (from Moving)
|33||7||-||33||8||In the Wind|
|"Oh Rock My Soul (Part 1)"
B-side: "Oh Rock My Soul (Part 2)"
|"The Times They Are A-Changin'"
|1965||"For Lovin' Me"
B-side: "Monday Morning"
|30||5||-||-||36||A Song Will Rise|
|"When the Ship Comes In"
B-side: "The Times They Are A-Changin'" (non-album track)
|"San Francisco Bay Blues"
B-side: "Come and Go With Me"
|"Early Mornin' Rain"
B-side: "The Rising of the Moon"
|91||13||-||-||34||See What Tomorrow Brings|
|1966||"Cruel War" (from Peter, Paul and Mary)
B-side: "Mon Vrai Destin"
|52||4||-||-||-||The Peter, Paul and Mary Album|
B-side: "Sometime Lovin'"
|"The Other Side of This Life"
B-side: "Sometime Lovin'"
|"For Baby (For Bobbie)"
B-side: "Hurry Sundown"
|1967||"I Dig Rock and Roll Music"
B-side: "The Great Mandala (The Wheel of Life)"
|"Too Much of Nothing"
B-side: "The House Song" (from Album 1700)
|1968||"Love City (Postcard from Duluth)"
B-side: "Yesterday's Tomorrow"
|1969||"Day is Done"
B-side: "Make Believe Town"
|21||7||-||-||-||Peter, Paul and Mommy|
|"Leaving on a Jet Plane"
B-side: "The House Song"
|1||1||-||2||30||US: Gold||Album 1700|
|"The Marvelous Toy"
B-side: "Christmas Dinner"
|-||-||-||-||-||Peter, Paul and Mommy|
|"--" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory|
|Year||Album details||Peak chart positions||Certification|
|1962||Peter, Paul and Mary
|In the Wind
|1965||A Song Will Rise
|See What Tomorrow Brings
|1966||The Peter, Paul and Mary Album
|1969||Peter, Paul and Mommy
|1983||Such is Love
|1986||No Easy Walk To Freedom
|1990||Flowers & Stones
|1995||Once Upon the Time
|2000||Don't Laugh at Me
|2004||In These Times
|2008||The Solo Recordings (1971-1972)
|Year||Album details||Peak chart positions|
|1963||Peter, Paul and Mary