THE KINGSTON TRIO
Helen O'Connell, Bob Shane, John Stewart, Nick Reynolds - Interviewed
by Helen at The Hollywood Bowl for the television show Here's Hollywood
Many thanks to Jerry Peterson for his fine work in transcribing the interview and providing us with his audio tape
from so long ago!
THE KINGSTON TRIO WAS INTERVIEWED ON THE DAYTIME TELEVISION SHOW CALLED HERE'S
HOLLYWOOD. THE INTERVIEW, HOSTED BY HELEN O'CONNELL, WAS DONE AT THE HOLLYWOOD BOWL,
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA. THE SHOW AIRED DURING THE MONTH OF JULY 1962. THE AUDIO YOU ARE ABOUT TO HEAR WAS TAPED
FROM THE SPEAKER OF A 1950s TELEVISION SET USING A 1950s VINTAGE REEL-TO-REEL TAPE RECORDER.
Kingston Trio Hollywood
Bowl Interview - Part 1 (RealAudio)
Hi, I'm Helen O'Connell, and "Here's Hollywood". Later, Jack Linkletter will have as his guest, voice
coach Harriet Lee. I'm on my way to the world famous Hollywood Bowl for a visit with the Kingston Trio, the celebrated
young folk singers who have earned as much as a million dollars a year only to rediscover the truth of the old
bromide that money doesn't buy happiness. These one-time campus troubadours started their career strumming banjos
and guitars for free beer and pretzels. Their recording of Tom Dooley took off like a runaway rocket and orbited
them to phenomenal popularity. At the peak of their reign last spring, a serious crisis threatened when one of
the original members left the group to go on his own. A replacement was made and the Kingston Trio lost none of
its luster, or box office magic. All three are married, and are neighbors in the San Francisco Bay area. We'll
meet the Kingston Trio at the Hollywood Bowl in a moment, and learn some of the problems that go with the great
American success story.
Helen: I'm in the world famous Hollywood Bowl visiting with three young men
who, by their fabulous success, have written show business history, The Kingston Trio. There's Nick Reynolds, ah,
better known as?
Bob: The runt of the litter.
Helen: All right....Bob Shane?
John: He's the sex symbol.
Helen: Is that right?...I didn't know that either. And the newest member of
the group, John Stewart, and what do they call you now?
Nick, Bob: "Handsome Johnny Stewart".
John: Thanks, gang.
Helen: You like that?
Nick: He loves it!
John: Yeah, right.
Helen: Nick how did you and Bob first get started in folk singing?
Nick: Well, I first met Bob, ah, I came up from Coronado, California, to San Francisco, and
went to Menlo Business College and he'd come over from Hawaii, brought his guitar with him, which he'd been playing
since he was this high, and ah, out of, sort of self-defense and sort of wanting to join in, I bought a pair of
bongo drums, and followed him around, right?
Helen: And that started the folk singing?
Helen: Why not the other kind?
Nick: Well, the guitar and ah, bongos, and banjos, sort of lend themselves to this type of thing, and the kind
of music that we, you know, all personally like...
Helen: And I might add your voices...
Nick: Harry Belafonte, and The Weavers, and people like this, where...
Helen: Uh, huh. And John, ah, did you know Bob and Nick very well before you
replaced Dave Guard in the group?
John: Yes, I did. The first time I met Nick and Bob was at the L. A. County Fair in '58. I was
singing rock and roll...
John: And it was before they made it big, and I met them there, and every time they were in town I'd bug them.
Helen: Didn't you write some music for them?
John: Yeah, I wrote two songs they did, Molly Dee, before I joined the Trio and ah...
Bob: That's only one...(laughter)...
Nick: We don't mention the...we don't mention the other one.
Helen: All right. Ah, when Dave left the group there was lots of second guessing
what would happen, you know, if it would change things. How have things changed in this Trio?
Bob: For the better.
Nick: Well, we think for the better, and ah, fortunately the audiences we've played to around the country...John's
been with us a year now, and ah, the response has been fantastic, it really has, it's been, and we're much happier,
and Dave is.
Helen: Yeah, wonderful. I read that your first contract with your manager was
written on a paper napkin, would you tell our audience about that.
Bob: We were playing a little beer garden at the time called The Cracked Pot...
Helen: Where was that?
Bob: Redwood City, California
Helen: Uh, huh.
Bob: And ah...
John: A purple (?) man came in...(laughter)...giving them that hungry 'eye'...
Bob: Frank Werber, our manager, came in. At that time he was working in a public relations business handling a
lot of night clubs in San Francisco, and he saw us and liked us, and said, ah, let's get together, and we started
talking to him and we liked him so we said let's have a contract on this and he pulled out a paper napkin, out
on the table, and said let's sign it right here.
Helen: That was very fast...
Nick: That was the first contract we signed...
Helen: ...the first one, there's a different one...
Nick: ...there's one this thick now.
Helen: Things are getting bigger. What was the first, ah, manager-type suggestion
your manager made?
Bob: Forget it! (laughter)
Nick: That was the first one. The second one was, ah, he sent us to a vocal coach.
Nick: Well, we went to work immediately in a little club in San Francisco called The Purple Onion.
Nick: And after about the second night, we were use to singing maybe one night a week, and ah, after working four
or five nights steadily...
Helen: ...got sore throats?
Nick: ...doing four or five shows a night we found out that it was impossible, and so we
went to work for about a year-and-a-half doing vocal training and learing how to, ah, more less sustain your voice
and save it, and train with it like, like an athlete would do.
Nick: Now we can sing seven nights a week, three hundred and sixty-five days a year and...
Helen: Oh that's a lot...
Nick: ...all you do is get hoarse (laughter).
Helen: Yes. How'd you happen to pick the name, "Kingston Trio"?
Bob: Well, we were at the time...we started out playing mostly Calypso-type music and we figured this would be
synonomous with Calypso music as Kingston, Jamaica.
Helen: Okay, that's a good idea...the name...
Nick: At the time, there was, we thought it was a great idea then we stopped playing Calypso
and we thought about changing the name, then all of a sudden it was too late, so we're stuck with it now.
Helen: I'm glad you didn't. Your group was the first to make a smashing success
of college campus tours, what gave you that idea Bob?
Bob: Well, we figured that since we were just out of college and the people we had played to were our age, we thought
this would be a good age bracket to aim at like the eighteen to thirty-five, which would include your, ah, latter
high school days, and...and though college, and the young marrieds. We've been very lucky because it's branched
out beyond that in either direction.
Nick: It goes way up and way down.
Helen: It certainly has, yes. We have to pause for just a moment and then we'll
come back to
find out more about the home life of the members to the Kingston Trio right after this message.
Kingston Trio Hollywood Bowl Interview
- Part 2 (RealAudio)
Helen continued: Here in the Hollywood Bowl I'm visiting with the Kingston
Trio, three talented young men who seem to be the personification of clean cut, wholesome American youth (laughter)
or perhaps I should have added young married youth. You are all married and you all have children, and I understand
you all live in the hills around San Francisco. When you're not on tour do you see much of each other?
Nick: Only when we rehearse, really, well, we do, we don't ah, make it a practice of, you know, forcing ourselves
together to, you know, make a certain scene, or an opening, or a movie, or a movie premiere, or we don't...
Helen: Do families get together?
Nick: Not too much really, I think, it ah, we all live in separate cities, although we live within probably a ten
mile radius of each other and we see enough of each other rehearsing, and...
Helen: Uh, huh...
Nick: And we do go out once in a while together.
Helen: I understand that when you go on tour you insist that your wife and
baby come along,
isn't this a little difficult to manage?
Nick: Well, sometimes it is, but whenever possible I certainly do. We ah...he's been
across...he's two years old now and we've been across the country five or six times, and to Hawaii, and whenever
it's possible, when we're not doing one night stands, if we're in a place for a week or two, we'll...she'll always
Helen: Baby's are always pretty good travelers...
Nick: Ohh, great!
Helen: But has it presented any particular problems having the family along?
Nick: Not really, ah, just it's a problem for other people in the plane...at about 12 o'clock
at night when he's running up and down the aisle yelling and screaming, and making airplane noises.
Helen: Oh, dear. Bob as a rule, do you have your wife and daughter with you?
Bob: No, I try and keep them at home as much as possible, 'cause I think that, being as she's from Atlanta, Georgia,
and brought up in real close family ties and ah, home roots so to speak...and ah, I think I'd rather have somebody
there all the time. When we can go on the road, like anyplace we stay at any length of time, two weeks or so, I
take them with me.
Helen: John, how did you meet your wife?
John: Was at a high school all night party, after graduation, and I was singing there that night, and ah, met her
there, and a year later I called her (laughter).
John: I'll call you sometime (laughter).
Nick: I'll call you sometime (laughter).
John: All I know is bugging you, what should I have done? (laughter).
Nick: There's something I've forgotten (laughter).
Helen: Well, Nick, you and Bob both have college degrees in business administration...
Helen: ...is that right?
Helen: Ah, what was your major interest John?
John: Well, music always was...I was an English major for two years, then I quit school to go to work for a year
to make enough money to go back, then I never went back.
Helen: You didn't...
Helen: Oh, dear, well, you did very well without having to go back. Bob when
you studied business administration, did you have any idea that you'd be wheeling and dealing in such big business
of your own?
Bob: I had great hopes...(laughter). I didn't think...I didn't think that ah, it'd be anything like this.
Helen: What are some of the business interests that the Trio have?
Bob: Well, we have a restaurant in Sausalito, California, on the water...
Bob: ...called the Trident...
Nick: It's beautiful
Bob: ...and a real nice place, and a lot of good crowds...
Bob: ...and we have...an office...
Helen: Do you ever work there?
Bob: Oh, no, we never work there.
Nick: We don't sing there, we tend bar there.
Bob: We eat there.
Nick: We eat there all the time.
Bob: We have an office building in San Francisco right between the Purple Onion and the
Hungry i...where we use to work and plan our tours (?).
Helen: Well that's pretty good. John, as sort of a late starter in the group,
have you had to learn a lot about business management and tax structure and all that sort of thing to keep up with
John: Yeah, I sure have...yeah...
Helen: And you've learned it?
John: ...the tax returns...
Helen: Are they pretty good teachers?
John: Not very...in spite of (?)...you learn (?) (laughter).
Helen: Never the accountant. As a group, do you find now that with your complex
investment program, that you think more of this that you do of music?
Nick: No, not at all, and I think that the two things are entirely separated...and I don't really...probably don't
even pay as much attention to it as I should, you know, like naturally, personally, at home I, you know, take care
of bills and things like that but as far as investments that the Trio makes, it's primarily our manager, and we
have lawyers and accountants that do that.
Helen: Don't have too much business to take away the fun
(Nick: No...) of it do you?
Nick: ...no, because I think if you worry about business, or actually worrying about making money...we didn't go
out to make money in the first place, we just sang for fun and we're still doing it, you know, fortunately.
Helen: It seems to me you appear to have lots of fun.
Nick: Oh, yes...
Helen: And I've had a great time talking to you today and in a fact, a lovely
John: Thank you.
Bob: Thank you.
Nick: ...our pleasure.
Helen: And right after this message, we'll return with the second half of Here's Hollywood.
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