One of the most recognizable and beloved folk groups from the 1960’s and 70’s, Peter, Paul and Mary was formed in New York City in 1961.
Prior to their partnership, Mary Travers (born on November 7, 1937 in Louisville, Kentucky) had been in the Broadway Music The Next President, Paul Stokey (born on December 30, 1937 in Baltimore, Maryland) had done TV work, and Peter Yarrow (born on May 31, 1938 in New York City), had worked at the Newport Folk Festival.
It was during this time that Yarrow met Albert Grossman who managed Bob Dylan and the Band. Gorssman suggested the idea of forming a trio influenced by the sound and style of the Weavers, the Kingston Trio and the Limeliters. Yarrow then approached Travers and Stokey joined shortly after. Working with arranger Milt Okun, the trio created a 3-part vocal sound that was both distinctive and harmonic. They made their Greenwich Village debut in 1961 and by early 1962, they had signed with Warner Bros. releasing the single “Lemon Tree” which rose to #35 on the pop charts.
The group’s clear sound and easy harmony, along with the social relevance of the songs, created a string of folk hits on the pop charts. In 1962, “If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)” reached the top ten; “Puff (The Magic Dragon)” hit #2 in 1963; “Blowin’ in the Wind” (a cover of Bob Dylan’s hit) reached #2 in 1963; “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” another Dylan cover, was a 1963 top ten; “I Dig Rock and Roll Music,” #9 in 1967.
In 1969 the group had its only #1 it with a cover of the John Denver classic, “Leaving On a Jet Plane.”
The group disbanded in 1971 but reunited several times throughout the past 30 years. PP&M remain one of the most durable acts in history.