- Bob Shane
Infobox musical artist
Name = Bob Shane
Background = tan
Img_capt = Bob Shane Publicity Photo, 1962
Genre = Folk And Pop
Born: February 1, 1934 Hilo, Hawaii
Years_active = 1957 - 2004
Vocals, Guitar, Banjo
First album = "The Kingston Trio" (1958)
Latest_album = "The World Needs A Melody" (2008)
Label = | [Capitol Records] , [Decca Records] , other
Bob Shane (born Robert Castle Schoen,
1 February 1934, in Hilo, Hawaii) is an American singerand guitaristand, with Nick Reynolds' passing in October 2008, the only surviving founding member of The Kingston Trio. In that capacity, Shane became a seminal figure in the revival of folk and other acoustic music as a popular art form in the U.S. in the late 1950s through the mid 1960s.
The phenomenal if at times controversial success of the Kingston Trio in its heyday had repercussions far beyond its unprecedented album sales (including the unsurpassed four albums simultaneously in the Top 10 in 1959) , its host of imitators, and the relatively short-lived pop-folk boom it created. For the Kingston Trio's success took acoustic folk-based music out of the niche market it had occupied prior to the Trio's arrival and moved it into the mainstream of American popular music, opening the door for major record labels to record and market both more traditional folk musicians and singer-songwriters as well. [ [http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:aifexqq5ld6e Bruce Eder, "The Kingston Trio,"AllMusic Guide.] ]
At the literal center of the Kingston Trio's success were the voice and the showmanship of Bob Shane. Shane's vocals, frequently the lead and almost invariably the melody on choruses, became the signature sound of the Trio not only through its first decade of stardom but also through most of the subsequent four decades of its continuing if more limited popularity.
Shane was born to a well-established and prosperous family in Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii; he is in his own words "a fourth-generation islander." He attended local schools, including the prestigious
Punahou Schoolfor his junior high and high school years. Punahou's curriculum emphasized native Hawaiian culture, [ [http://www.punahou.edu/page.cfm?p=615 Punahou School Bulletin, Spring 2007: "Hawaiian dance has long been central to the cultural life of Punahou. As early as 1931, traditional May Day activities included a Lei Day portion and a Holoku- Pageant, initially staged near the Lily Pond. The Eldredge family has had a profound influence on Hawaiian dance at the school. In 1965, Dave Eldredge '49, a middle school science teacher, redirected the focus of the annual Holoku- Pageant toward an authentic portrayal of Hawaiian music and dance. Today, hundreds of students from grades K-12 perform in three May Day programs and the Academy Holoku- Pageant. Under the direction of Hattie Eldredge '66 Phillips, the performances showcase the Hawaiian cultural experience for students and audiences alike."] ] complementing Shane's already developing interest in music in general and Hawaiian music in particular.
During these years, Shane taught himself to play first ukulele and then guitar, influenced especially by Hawaiian
slack keyguitarists like Gabby Pahinui. It was also during these years that Shane met Punahou classmate Dave Guardand began performing with him at parties and school variety shows.
Formation of The Kingston Trio
Following graduation in 1952, Shane attended
Menlo Collegein Menlo Park, California while Guard matriculated at nearby Stanford University. At Menlo, Shane met and became fast friends with Nick Reynolds, originally from the San Diego area and also a musician and singer with a broad knowledge of folk and popular songs, due in part to Reynolds' music-loving father, a captain in the Navy. Shane introduced Reynolds to Guard, and in 1956, the three began performing together as part of an informal aggregation that could according to Reynolds expand to as large as six or seven members. The group went under different names, most often as "Dave Guard and the Calypsonians." The group made little more than beer money and had no formal professional aspirations, so by the end of that year and following his graduation from Menlo College Shane had returned to Hawaii to work in the family business. [Rubeck, Shaw, Blake et al., "The Kingston Trio On Record" (Naperville IL: KK Inc, 1986), p. 25.]
However, Shane had discovered a natural affinity for entertaining and at night pursued a solo career in Hawaii, including engagements at some of Waikiki's major hotels. Shane's act consisted of an eclectic mix of songs from
Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, Harry Belafonte, and Broadway shows. It was during this period of several months that Shane also met acoustic blues legend Josh White, who helped Shane refine his guitar style and influenced him to support his vocals with a Martin "Dreadnought" guitar, significant in that it led to Shane's life-long association with that guitar maker. [Washburn and Johnston, "Martin Guitars" (Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press, 1997), p. 171.] C.F. Martin & Co.reciprocated by issuing a number of "signature" models honoring Shane and the Kingston Trio in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
At the same time back in California, Guard and Reynolds had organized themselves somewhat more formally into an act named "The Kingston Quartet" with bassist Joe Gannon and his fianceé, vocalist Barbara Bogue. This group appeared for a one night engagement at a club called the Italian Village in San Francisco, to which they invited publicist Frank Werber, who had caught the Calypsonians' act with Shane some months earlier at the Cracked Pot beer garden in Palo Alto. Werber was impressed by the natural talent of and synergy between Guard and Reynolds; he was less impressed with Gannon and Bogue, and suggested to Reynolds and Guard that they would be better off as a trio without Gannon - easier to book and better musically. When Guard and Reynolds let Gannon go and Bogue followed, Reynolds, Guard and Werber all considered Shane the logical third member and asked him to return to California, which he did in the spring of 1957.
Shane, Guard, Reynolds, and Werber drew up an informal agreement (on a paper napkin, according to a legend that Werber has debunked) ["Kingston Trio On Record", p. 19.] that morphed into a legal partnership. They decided on the name "Kingston Trio" because it evoked, they thought, both the then-popular calypso music that emanated from Kingston Jamaica as well as the kind of "collegiate" ambiance that their quickly-adopted stage outfit of matching button-down collared three-quarter length sleeved striped shirts also suggested.
The Kingston Trio: The Glory Years, 1957-1967
Under Werber's rigorous tutelage, Shane, Guard, and Reynolds began almost daily rehearsals for several months, including instruction from prominent San Francisco vocal coach Judy Davis. The group's first significant break came in the summer of 1957 when comedienne
Phyllis Dillerhad to cancel an engagement at The Purple Onion, a small San Francisco night club, and Werber talked the management into hiring the untested trio for a week. The trio's close harmonies, varied repertoire, and carefully rehearsed but apparently spontaneous on stage humor made them an instant success with the club's patrons, and the engagement stretched to eight months.
During this stint, Werber used the Kingston Trio's local popularity to try to generate interest from record companies. After several false starts, the group landed a contract with
Capitol Records, recording their first album in three days in February 1958. The producer was the already legendary (from Frank Sinatra's 1950s Capitol sessions) Voyle Gilmore, who made two immediate and fateful decisions. Gilmore insisted that the trio's acoustic sound have more of a "bottom" and added a bass player to the recordings. He also decided that the group should be recorded without additional orchestral instrumentation, unusual for the time; both decisions came to characterize nearly all of the Kingston Trio's subsequent recordings and live performances. ["Kingston Trio On Record", p. 26.]
The album "The Kingston Trio" was released in June of 1958 at the same time that the group was beginning a long engagement at San Francisco's more prominent
Hungry inight club. The album included the number that became Shane's signature song, "Scotch and Soda," powerful and rhythmic guitar work from Shane throughout, and an obscure North Carolina murder ballad, " Tom Dooley" on which Shane sang the lead.
In the fall of 1958 while Shane and the Trio were performing at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Honolulu, disc jockeys in first Salt Lake City, then Miami, then nationally began playing the "Tom Dooley" cut from the album on the air. Popular response forced a reluctant Capitol Records marketing department to release the song as a single. It shot to #1 on the Billboard and Variety charts, selling a million copies before Christmas of 1958 and earning the Kingston Trio both its first of eleven gold records and of two Grammys.
This ushered in an era of remarkable success as both a recording and performing act for Shane and the Trio. In 1959 alone, the group released four albums, three of which attained #1 status and all four of which were in Billboard's Top Ten in December 1959, a feat equaled only by the Beatles. Thirteen of their albums placed in Billboard's Top Ten, with five going to #1 and the first album remaining on the charts an astounding 195 weeks. [ [http://www2.wwnorton.com/college/music/rockhistory/outlines/ch03.htm John Covach, "An Introduction To Rock And Its History," W.W. Norton Online.] ] A half dozen singles charted in the Top 100 as well. The group played over two hundred dates per year for several years, pioneering the college concert circuit and appearing at most of the country's top night clubs, festivals, and amphitheaters as well.
It was during this period, however, that conflict began to simmer between high school friends Shane and Guard. Disputes over the musical direction of the Kingston Trio and disagreement over finances and copyrights are the causes most frequently cited in Guard's decision in the spring of 1961 to leave what was at the time the most popular group in American music. ["Kingston Trio On Record", p. 48.] Shane, Reynolds, and Werber bought out Guard's interest in the partnership and moved quickly to find a replacement, settling on
John Stewart, a young folk performer and composer who had written a number of songs that the Trio had already recorded.
The Shane, Reynolds, and Stewart Kingston Trio remained together for another six years, releasing nine more albums on Capitol and scoring a number of Top 40 hit singles until diminishing record sales resulting from the passing of the popular folk boom and the rise of Capitol's other major acts the Beach Boys and the Beatles prompted the group to move to
Decca Records, where they released four more albums before disbanding as an act following a final engagement at the Hungry i in June 1967.
Solo Efforts And The New Kingston Trio, 1969-1976
Shane had not been in favor of the break-up of the Kingston Trio, both because he felt that the Trio could adapt to changing musical tastes and because he had by then become a thoroughly accomplished entertainer and a canny marketer. Deciding to stay in the entertainment business he knew so well, Shane experimented both with solo work (he recorded several singles, including a well-received but under-marketed version of the song "Honey" that later became a million-seller for
Bobby Goldsboro) ["Kingston Trio On Record", pp. 117-118.] and with different configurations with other folk-oriented performers.
Shane realized that he would always be most closely associated with the Kingston Trio name, that his voice had been in fact the foundation upon which the group's sound had been built, and that the name was still a bankable commodity. In 1969, he asked permission of Reynolds and Werber, still his partners, to lease the group's name. They assented with the provisos that Shane assemble a group of comparable musical quality to the two original configurations and that "New" be appended to the name.
Shane agreed and organized two troupes under the name of "The New Kingston Trio." The first consisted of guitarist Pat Horine and banjoist Jim Connor in addition to Shane and lasted from 1969 to 1973, the second including guitarist Roger Gambill and banjoist Bill Zorn from 1973 until 1976. Shane tried to create a repertoire for these groups that included both the older and expected Kingston Trio standards like "
Tom Dooley" and " M.T.A." but that would also feature more contemporary songs as well, including country and novelty tunes. The attempt did not meet with any significant success. Though both of these groups made a limited number of recordings and television appearances, neither generated very much interest from fans or the public at large.
Another Kingston Trio, A Reunion, A Retirement: 1976-2004
At the end of 1976, Bill Zorn wanted to pursue a solo career and left the group under amicable circumstances. To replace him, Shane found a younger performer named George Grove, a college music major who like Zorn was gifted both as an instrumentalist and as a singer.
Ever the sharp-minded businessman, Shane realized that the group's greatest asset in addition to his vocals and his presence as a founding member was the name itself. Consequently, he purchased the rights to the Kingston Trio name outright from Reynolds and Werber, and all subsequent iterations of Shane's troupe since late 1976 have been known simply as the Kingston Trio.
PBSproducers JoAnn Young and Paul Surratt pitched an idea to Shane: a reunion concert that the network could use as a fund raiser and that would include not only Shane's current group but also on stage reunions of the two original Kingston Trio lineups with Guard and Stewart. Shane and the other principals assented, and the concert was staged and taped at the Magic Mountain amusement park in Valencia, California in November 1981; it was broadcast over PBS stations in March 1982.
Despite some residual tension between Guard and Shane, part of which surfaced in a "New York Times" interview with Shane about the event and which resulted from public comments made by Guard that Shane felt disparaged both him and his current group, the concert was moderately successful and became a landmark in Kingston Trio history.
Over the next nine years, Shane and Guard reconciled to a large degree. Guard was suffering from cancer though apparently in remission when Shane and Reynolds visited him in New Hampshire in the summer of 1990, and the three discussed the possibility of a reunion tour that would again feature Shane's current troupe (which by this time included a re-invigorated Nick Reynolds) as well as Guard and Stewart. Guard's lymphoma returned, however, and he died in March 1991. Shane was the only member of any configuration of the Kingston Trio to sing at Guard's memorial service. [Bob Shane Interview, "Wherever We May Go" (video documentary; Surratt and Young, producers; Shout Factory, 2006).]
Through the years following Shane's acquisition of the Kingston Trio name in 1976, the personnel in the group changed several times, though Shane and Grove remained constants. Shane guided the group to a success that if never the equivalent of the group's first decade was nonetheless steady and consistent. Shane's Kingston Trio relied heavily on a "greatest hits formula" augmented by a number of other songs acquired through the years that fans had accepted as part of the group's repertoire.
In March 2004, a month after his seventieth birthday, Shane suffered a debilitating heart attack that forced him into a retirement from touring and performing for the first time in forty seven years. Though Shane had hoped that he would simply need to take some time off, the attack was severe enough to warrant Shane's complete retirement from performing with the group that he still owns. He was replaced by former New Kingston Trio member Bill Zorn.
Bob Shane, Musician
Shane's vocals and guitar work were the bedrock on which the Kingston Trio's sound was built. His powerful baritone with a natural vibrato has been called one of the best natural voices in American popular music.
Less often appreciated, however, were Shane's abilities as a guitarist and vocal interpreter. So pervasive was the Kingston Trio's influence and so thoroughly did its sound emanate from Shane's strong and rhythmic strumming that the multitude of folk performers who copied Shane's style had no idea that what appeared to be the most authentically mainland and traditional of sounds actually consisted of Shane's variations on rhythms he had picked up as a boy in Hawaii. [Bill Bush, "The Kingston Trio," "Frets Magazine" (June, 1984), p.26.] Former Kingston Trio member
John Stewart, himself a distinguished guitarist throughout his subsequent solo career, called Shane "the man of a thousand strums." [ [http://www.martinguitar.com/artists/display_artist.php?d=107 Martin Guitar Bob Shane/Kingston Trio Page.] ]
In addition to the Kingston Trio's hits and the abovementioned song "Honey," Shane also sang solos or leads on other songs first given national prominence by the Kingston Trio that later became hits for other performers, including "It Was a Very Good Year" and "Love's Been Good To Me" by
Frank Sinatra, "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" by Roberta Flack, " Long Black Veil" by Johnny Cash and The Band, " Seasons in the Sun" by Terry Jacks, and a host of others including "Let's Get Together" and "Early Morning Rain."
Shane was married for twenty-three years to the former Louise Brandon. They have five children. Since 2000, Bob Shane has been married to the former Bobbie Childress.
Discography and Videography
Capitol Records Releases: Albums
*"The Kingston Trio" 1958
*"...from the Hungry i" 1959
*"Stereo Concert" 1959
*"The Kingston Trio At Large" 1959
*"Here We Go Again" 1959
*"Sold Out" 1960
*"String Along" 1960
*"The Last Month of the Year" 1960
*"Make Way" 1961
*"Goin' Places" 1961
*"Close Up" 1961
*"College Concert" 1962
*"Something Special" 1962
*"New Frontier" 1962
*"Sunny Side" 1963
*"Time to Think" 1963
*"Back in Town" 1964Capitol Records also released vinyl albums of "The Best of the Kingston Trio, Vols I, II, and IIIbetween 1961 and 1966, a "duophonic" reissue of cuts from the first two albums named "The Kingston Trio Encores" in 1961, and a number of CD compilations and re-issues in the 1980s and 1990s.
Decca Records Releases: Albums
Tetragrammaton Records Release: Album
Longines Symphonette Release: Album
*"The World Needs A Melody" 1973
GZS Productions Tape/CD Release
*"Live At The Crazy Horse" 1976
Nautilus Records Release: Album
* Aspen Gold 1979
Xerxes Records Releases: Albums
Folk Era/Rediscover Records Releases: Albums/CDs
Vanguard Records Release: CD
*"The Kingston Trio Live At Newport" 1994
Silverwolf Records Release: Original CD
*"Live At The Crazy Horse" 1995
Collector's Choice Music Releases: Original CDs
Shout Factory Release: CD
* "The Essential Kingston Trio" 2006
Kingston Trio Productions Release: CD
There are in addition literally scores of vinyl, tape, and CD compilations and reissues by a multitude of companies in the U.S., Germany, Japan, and elsewhere.
*"The Kingston Trio and Friends Reunion" (WhiteStar Video, 1982)
* "An Evening With The Kingston Trio" (Rhino Video, 1989)
*"The Kingston Trio 45th Anniversary Tribute Concert" (EDI, 2002)
*"Wherever We May Go" (Shout Factory, 2006)
*"The Kingston Trio: Fifty Years Of Having Fun" (EDI, 2006)
*"Young Men In A Hurry" [TV Series Pilot] (Paramount, 2007)
* [http://www.kingstontrio.com/ The Kingston Trio Official Page]
* [http://www.kingstontrio.com/content/bob_shane.htm Autobiographical Notes on Bob Shane]
* [http://www.martinguitar.com/artists/display_artist.php?d=107 Martin Guitar Bob Shane Page]
* [http://www.vghf.org/inductees/kingston_trio.html Vocal Group Hall Of Fame Kingston Trio Page]
* [http://www.folkera.com/ktrio/bio.html FolkEra Records Kingston Trio Page]
* [http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:aifexqq5ld6e AllMusic Guide Kingston Trio Page]
* [http://www.folkusa.org/ Folk U.S.A. - Archived vintage Kingston Trio audio and video clips.]
* [http://www.kingstontrioplace.com The Kingston Trio Place--A Kingston Trio Fan-Based Tribute Site]
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