September 17, 2009


This evening, my heart sank when I read the news in New York Times HERE that Mary Travers of the famous 1960's trip Peter, Paul and Mary died at the age of 72 in Danbury Hospital in Connecticut. Their songs were very much a part of my childhood in the 1960's.

According to Wikipedia,

The group was created and managed by Albert Grossman, who sought to create a folk "supergroup" by bringing together "a tall blonde (Mary Travers), a funny guy (Paul Stookey), and a good looking guy (Peter Yarrow)". He launched the group in 1961, booking them into the The Bitter End, a coffee house and popular folk venue in New York City's Greenwich Village. They recorded their first album, Peter, Paul and Mary, the following year. It included "500 Miles", "Lemon Tree", 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 on the Billboard Magazine Top Ten list for ten months and in the Top One Hundred for over three years.

The group made its television debut in either 1961 or 1962 on the PM East/PM West talk show hosted by Mike Wallace and Joyce Davidson, though neither audio nor video footage has yet been found. By 1963, Peter, Paul and Mary had recorded three albums. All three were in the Top ten the week of President Kennedy's assassination.

That year, the group also released "Puff the Magic Dragon", which Yarrow and fellow Cornell student Leonard Lipton had written in 1959, and performed "If I Had a Hammer" at the 1963 March on Washington, best remembered for Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. One of their biggest hit singles was the Bob Dylan song "Blowin' in the Wind. They also sang other Bob Dylan songs, such as: "The Times They Are a-Changin'"; "Don't Think Twice, it's Alright"; and "When the Ship Comes In".

Peter, Paul and Mary Pictures, Images and Photos

"Leaving On A Jet Plane" became their only #1 hit (as well as their final Top 40 hit) in December 1969, and was written by John Denver (who already had some success with The Mitchell Trio [replacing Chad Mitchell]), and first appeared on their Album 1700 in 1967. "Day Is Done", a #21 hit in June 1969, was the last Hot 100 hit that the trio recorded.

The trio broke up in 1970 to pursue solo careers, but found little of the success which they had experienced as a group--although Stookey's "The Wedding Song (There is Love)" (written for Yarrow's marriage to Marybeth McCarthy, the niece of senator Eugene McCarthy) was a hit and has become a wedding standard since its 1971 release.

Peter Paul and Mary Pictures, Images and Photos
In 1978, they reunited for a concert to protest nuclear energy, and have recorded albums together and toured since. They currently play around 45 shows a year.[1]

The group was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999.

The trio became political activists for their commitment to peace in Central America and for supporting musically and personally the peace and social justice movement in America. They were awarded the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience on September 1, 1990.

peter, paul, mary Pictures, Images and Photos

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.

Peter, Paul and Mary received the Sammy Cahn Lifetime Achievement Award from Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2006.

Peter, Paul and Mary - In These Times Pictures, Images and Photos

The trio sang in Mitchell, South Dakota, for the George and Eleanor McGovern Library and Center for Leadership dedication concert on October 5, 2006.

The trio canceled several dates of their summer 2007 tour, as Mary took longer than expected to recover from back surgery and later had to undergo a second surgery, further postponing the tour.[1]

This LINK HERE is the official website of Peter, Paul and Mary.

This LINK OVER HERE will lead you to the New York Times write-up about her death and other tributes.

For YAHOO NEWS about her death, please CLICK HERE.

Thank you Mary Travers for the many years of music you gave to us. Thanks for singing with so much feeling, conviction and power. Rest in peace, dear Mary Travers.

The following version of "Where have all the flowers gone?" was sung 2 years ago and I can see that with the passing years, they sang with even more depth of emotion - so much that I was moved to tears the first time I heard it...The harmony is different and the accompaniment as magical as their voices - simple, melodious and purposeful plucking of the guitar strings, elegantly executed...Look at their eyes when they were singing this song - deep pools of feelings mirrored in the eyes of their fans who were just as awed by the meaning of the lyrics being sung in the hall and it was obvious that the crowd were just mesmerized by their vocals. Astounding performance with a moving response from the audience. I will miss you, Mary Travers.


jonno1951 said...


This is a passing of a golden era. I am so sad but feel blessed to be living during the time where groups like Peter, Paul and Mary existed.

This group featured heavily in my life as I grew up with their songs. I have been very touched by their anti war sentiments and human rights activities.


masterwordsmith said...

Hi Uncle John

Thanks for visiting my blog. I think this is the first time you have commented here :-).

Indeed you are right - the passing of a great era, the time when folk music became pop music and when Mary's hairstyle became the definitive style for female folk singers....

I still feel so sad because I do not think there has been any other woman with a voice or spirit like Mary's.

Take care.


Crankster said...

I liked 'Leaving On A Jet Plane'. Ah well, RIP Mary Travers.

masterwordsmith said...

Yes, dear Crankster. That one is a timeless beauty that transcends all age groups. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Take care and have a nice weekend.