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Bob Shane (1934–2020), founding member of the Kingston Trio

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Shane was the last original Kingston Trio member to survive

Bob Shane was one of the founding members of folk revival group the Kingston Trio, and he was the last of the group’s original three members to survive. The Kingston Trio were among the most important drivers of the folk revival in the late 1950s and 1960s, beloved for hits including “Tom Dooley” and “Scotch and Soda.” Shane played guitar and supplied baritone vocals, typically singing lead alongside his bandmates’ smooth harmonies. As original trio members Dave Guard and Nick Reynolds left the group, it was Shane who kept it alive for decades, continuing to tour and record with the Kingston Trio — sometimes going by the name the New Kingston Trio — until his 2004 retirement.

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Died: January 26, 2020 (Who else died on January 26?)

Details of death: Died at a hospice facility in Phoenix at the age of 85.


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The folk revival: While folk music of the 1960s is tightly associated with antiwar politics, the Kingston Trio stayed mostly apolitical with their music. Their music was warm and comfortable, and it wasn’t even always exactly folk music. When Shane sang “Scotch and Soda,” his performance was closer to the crooners of the 1940s than the folkies of the 1960s. But occasionally the Kingston Trio made a record that veered into political territory, as when they had a moderate hit with Pete Seeger’s “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” in 1961, a year before Peter, Paul and Mary recorded it.

Notable quote: “The thing I’m most proud of next to my kids is that I have played live to over 10,000,000 people.” —Shane, on the Kingston Trio’s website

What people said about him: “Bob Shane was, in my opinion, one of the most underrated singers in American musical history. His voice was the voice, not only of the Kingston Trio but of an era of musical storytelling.” —Kingston Trio member George Grove

“Before I turned into a snob and learned to look down upon all commercial folk music as bastardized and unholy, I loved the Kingston Trio. When I became one of the leading practitioners of ‘pure folk,’ I still loved them.” —Joan Baez, from her memoir “And a Voice to Sing With”

Full obituary: The New York Times

Related lives:

  • Pete Seeger (19192014), giant of folk music
  • Mary Travers (19362009), member of Peter, Paul and Mary
  • Odetta (19302008), folk singer was a voice of the civil rights movement