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 contralto 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.
The group was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999. Peter, Paul and Mary received the Sammy Cahn Lifetime Achievement Award from Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2006.
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.
The group recorded their debut album, Peter, Paul and Mary, and it was released by Warner Bros. 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.
During 1971 and 1972 Warner 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 and 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. Britain's Petula Clark also recorded a version of the song, which in 1973 charted strongly in the UK, Australia and others. 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."
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.
A reunion album (titled Reunion) was released by Warner in 1978. Reviewing in Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981), Robert Christgau said the decision to cover Bob Dylan's "Forever Young" as a "rinky-dink reggae like these three geezers means you've been middle-aged and liberal since you were fifteen."
Peter, Paul and Mary in 2006
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 1960s tours) and, starting in 1990, by multi-instrumentalist Paul Prestopino.
The trio were awarded the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience on September 1, 1990.
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.
Peter, Paul and Mary is the first album by American music trio Peter, Paul and Mary, released in 1962 on Warner Bros. Records. Released in both mono and stereo on catalog no. 1449, It is one of the rare folk albums to reach US#1 - staying for over a month. The lead-off singles "If I Had a Hammer" and "Lemon Tree" reached numbers 10 and 35 respectively on the Billboard Pop Singles chart. It was the group's biggest selling studio album, eventually certified Double Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for U.S. sales of more than two million copies.
The album was reissued as 180 Gram vinyl in 2016 under the Waxtime Label as #772125. The Waxtime issue has 3 Bonus tracks which are side 1 #7 - "One Kind of Favor (Live)", side 2 track #7 - "The Times They Are A' Changin' (Live)" and track #8 - "If I Had My Way (Live)".
At the Grammy Awards of 1963, their recording of "If I Had a Hammer" won the Best Folk Recording and Best Performance by a Vocal Group Grammies.
Here is "Where Have all The Flowers Gone" From Their Debut Album in 1962.
And The Single Of That Year.