OCTOBER 1, 2008 – The Kingston Trio co-founder NICK REYNOLDS (b. July 27, 1933 in San Diego, California) died of acute respiratory disease syndrome, said his son Joshua Stewart Reynolds, and was survived by his wife, the former Leslie Yerger; his sons Joshua of Portland, Oregon, and John Pike Reynolds of Coronado; his daughters Annie Clancy Reynolds Moore of San Diego and Jennifer Kristie Reynolds of Bandon, Oregon; two sisters, Jane Reynolds Meade and Barbara Reynolds Haines, both of Coronado; and three grandchildren.Growing up in Coronado, California, Reynold’s passions as a boy growing up were tennis, skin-diving and singing with his family. His father, a Navy captain, was an avid guitar player who brought back songs from his travels around the world. He taught Nick the guitar and ukulele, and the family spent many nights singing and harmonizing for pure enjoyment. Nick enrolled in Menlo College in Atherton in 1954 as a business major, and met Bob Shane in an accounting class.
They soon started hanging out, drinking, and chasing women together, and this, in turn, led to playing music, initially as a way of being popular at parties — Shane’s guitar and Reynolds’ bongos became a fixture at local frat gatherings, and after a few weeks of this, Shane introduced Reynolds to Dave Guard, a graduate student at Stanford University (Mr. Guard died in 1991), and the rest is history.The three friends formed a group that added and subtracted members and performed under different names, including Dave Guard and the Calypsonians. Frank Werber, a publicist who caught their act at the Cracked Pot in Palo Alto, booked them at the Purple Onion nightclub in San Francisco and, after their one-week engagement became an extended sold-out run, signed them to a contract with Capitol Records. By this time they had renamed themselves the Kingston Trio, in a nod to the popularity of calypso music, and chosen a team uniform (button-down, striped, short-sleeve shirts) that exuded a wholesome, collegiate image.
“The Kingston Trio” was certainly largely inspired by The Weavers, but carried the concept of a folk-group, especially one featuring a guitar/banjo combination, further into the mainstream of mid-to-late 50s popular music. In turn, the Trio became an early inspiration to countless groups, including The Beach Boys (whose striped shirts, on their first album cover, intentionally emulated what the Kingston Trio wore) and Peter, Paul and Mary — who owe their fundamental concept as a mainstream, folk/pop group, to its originators, The Kingston Trio and The Weavers.Their formula was astonishingly successful. Thirteen of the group’s albums reached the Top 10, and in 1959 alone four of its albums placed in the Top 10, a record matched only by the Beatles.Mr. Reynolds remained with the Kingston Trio until it disbanded in 1967, as folk music lost its audience to rock. After a brief time building and racing Formula B cars, he moved to a cabin in Port Orford, Ore., without a television, telephone or radio.
There he worked as a rancher and antiques dealer. He also ran the Star, Port Orford’s only movie theater.In 1983 he and John Stewart, who had replaced Guard in the Kingston Trio in 1961, joined with Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac to record the album “Revenge of the Budgie.” (Stewart died in January) In 1988 he joined a reconstituted version of the Kingston Trio and performed with them until retiring in 1999.At the height of their popularity, The Kingston Trio (comprised of Reynolds, Bob Shane, Dave Guard, and later John Stewart) was arguably the number one vocal group in the world, single-handedly ushering in the folk music boom of the late 50s and early 60s that spawned the likes of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Peter, Paul & Mary and many others. Their release of “Tom Dooley” in the fall of 1958 changed popular music forever, inspiring legions of young people to pick up guitars and banjos and sing folk music.
“We got America up and singing,” Reynolds once modestly reflected.Known affectionately within group as the “Budgie” and “The Runt Of The Litter,” Nick Reynolds embodied the best of the Trio’s wide and diverse talents. “He was clearly the best entertainer in the Trio,” said John Stewart, “and one of the best natural musicians I have ever worked with.” Bob Shane added, “Nobody could nail a harmony part like Nick. He could hit it immediately, exactly where it needed to be, absolutely note perfect – all on the natch. Pure genius.” Reynolds was also a gifted lead singer whose smooth tenor voice was featured on many Trio tunes.Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Stewart also ran an annual fantasy camp in Scottsdale, Ariz., where fans could join them onstage and, for a brief moment, sing as honorary members of the Kingston Trio.Mr. Reynolds’s first two marriages ended in divorce.