Peter, Paul and Mary

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Peter, Paul and Mary
1960s publicity photo of the group.
Background information
Origin New York City, United States
Genres Folk, folk rock
Years active 1961–1970 & 1978–2008
Labels Warner Bros.
Associated acts Peter & Noel Paul 2009-present
Members Peter Yarrow
Paul Stookey
Mary Travers (deceased, 2009)

Peter, Paul and Mary were an American folk-singing trio whose nearly 50-year career began with their rise to become a paradigm for 1960s folk music. The trio was composed of folk songwriter Peter Yarrow, (Noel) Paul Stookey and Mary Travers. After the death of Travers in 2009, Yarrow and Stookey continued to perform as a duo under their individual names.[1]


Mary Travers said she was influenced by Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and the Weavers.[2] In the documentary Peter, Paul & Mary: Carry It On — A Musical Legacy members of the Weavers discuss how Peter, Paul and Mary took over the torch of the social commentary of folk music in the 1960s.


Early years (1961–1969)

Peter, Paul and Mary at the 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C.

Manager Albert Grossman created Peter, Paul and Mary in 1961, after auditioning several singers in the New York folk scene, including Dave Van Ronk, who was rejected as too idiosyncratic and uncommercial. After rehearsing Yarrow, Stookey and Travers out of town in Boston and Miami, Grossman booked them into The Bitter End, a coffee house, nightclub and popular folk music venue in New York City's Greenwich Village.

They recorded their debut album, Peter, Paul and Mary, the following year. It included "Lemon Tree", "500 Miles", 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 in the Billboard Magazine Top Ten for 10 months, including seven weeks in the No. 1 position. It remained a main catalog-seller for decades to come, eventually selling over two million copies, earning double platinum certification from the RIAA in the United States alone.

In 1963 the group also released "Puff, the Magic Dragon", with music by Yarrow and words based on a poem that had been written by a fellow student at Cornell, Leonard Lipton. Despite urban myths that insist the song is filled with drug references, it is actually about the lost innocence of childhood.[3]

That year the group performed "If I Had a Hammer" and "Blowin' in the Wind" at the 1963 March on Washington, best remembered for Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. The Bob Dylan song "Blowin' in the Wind was one of their biggest hit singles.[4] They also sang other Dylan songs, such as "The Times They Are a-Changin'"; "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right,"[4] and "When the Ship Comes In." Their success with Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" helped Dylan's The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan album rise into the top 30; it had been released four months earlier.[5]

On January 14, 1964 they performed "Blowin' in the Wind" on the Jack Benny television program.

"Leaving on a Jet Plane" became their only No. 1 single (as well as their final top 40 pop hit), in December 1969, and was written by the group's friend John Denver. It was the group's sixth million-selling gold single. The track first appeared on their million-selling platinum certified Album 1700, in 1967 (which also contained their No. 9 hit "I Dig Rock and Roll Music"). "Day Is Done", a No. 21 hit in June 1969 from the trio's Grammy-award winning Peter, Paul and Mommy album, was the last hot 100 hit that the trio recorded.

Breakup (1970–1978)

The trio broke up in 1970 to pursue solo careers and after Peter Yarrow's arrest and conviction for making sexual advances toward a 14-year-old girl. Years later, Yarrow received a presidential pardon from Jimmy Carter.[6] Travers recorded five solo LPs and did concerts and lectures across the United States. She also produced, wrote, and starred in a BBC-TV series. Stookey formed a Christian music group called the Body Works Band. Yarrow co-wrote and produced Mary MacGregor's Torn Between Two Lovers (No. 1, 1977) and earned an Emmy for three animated TV specials based on "Puff the Magic Dragon."[7]

Stookey wrote "The Wedding Song (There is Love)" for Yarrow's marriage to Marybeth McCarthy, the niece of Senator Eugene McCarthy, according to Stookey during an interview on the DVD Carry It On, released in 2004 by Rhino Records.

Reunions (1978–2009)

File:Peter, Paul and Mary 2006.jpg
Peter, Paul and Mary in 2006

In 1972, they reunited for a concert at Madison Square Garden to support George McGovern's presidential campaign, and again in 1978, for a concert to protest against nuclear energy. This concert was followed by a 1978 summer reunion tour. Included was a September 3 evening performance at Red Rocks Amphitheatre outside of Denver, Colorado. The summer tour proved so popular that the group decided to reunite more or less permanently in 1981. They continued to record albums together and tour, playing around 45 shows a year, until the 2009 death of Mary Travers.[8]

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

The trio were prolific political activists for their involvement in the peace movement and other causes. They were awarded the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience on September 1, 1990.[9]

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.

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

The trio cancelled 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.[8] Travers was unable to perform on the trio's tour in mid-2009 because of leukemia, but Peter and Paul performed the scheduled dates as a duo, calling the show "Peter & Paul Celebrate Mary and 5 Decades of Friendship."

On September 16, 2009, Mary Travers died at the age of 72, of complications from chemotherapy, following treatment for leukemia.[10] It was the same year Peter, Paul and Mary were inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.

In 2010, Peter Yarrow and Paul Stookey requested that the National Organization for Marriage stop using their recording of "This Land is Your Land" at their rallies, stating in a letter that the organization's philosophy was "directly contrary to the advocacy position" held by the group.[11]



Year Title Chart positions Album
US[12] US
UK[14] AU
1962 "Lemon Tree"
B-side: "Early in the Morning"
35 12 - - - Peter, Paul and Mary
"If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)"
B-side: "Gone the Rainbow" (from Moving)
10 - - - 26
1963 "Puff (The Magic Dragon)"
B-side: "Pretty Mary"
2 1 10 - 6 Moving
"Big Boat"
B-side: "Tiny Sparrow"
93 - - - -
"Settle Down (Goin' Down That Highway)"
B-side: "500 Miles" (from Peter, Paul and Mary)
56 14 - - -
"Blowin' in the Wind"
B-side: "Flora" (from Moving)
2 1 - 13 11 In the Wind
"Don't Think Twice, It's All Right"
B-side: "Autumn to May" (from Peter, Paul and Mary)
9 2 - - 56
B-side: "Cruel War" (from Peter, Paul and Mary)
35 17 - - 89
"A Soalin'"
B-side: "Hush-A-Bye" (from In The Wind)
- - - - 61 Moving
1964 "Tell it on the Mountain"
B-side: "Old Coat" (from Moving)
33 7 - 33 8 In the Wind
"Oh Rock My Soul (Part 1)"
B-side: "Oh Rock My Soul (Part 2)"
93 - - - 16 Non-album single
"The Times They Are A-Changin'"
B-side: "Blue"
- - - 44 - UK single
1965 "For Lovin' Me"
B-side: "Monday Morning"
30 5 - - 36 A Song Will Rise
"When the Ship Comes In"
B-side: "The Times They Are A-Changin'" (non-album track)
91 23 - - 17[A]
"San Francisco Bay Blues"
B-side: "Come and Go With Me"
- - - - 43[A]
"Early Mornin' Rain"
B-side: "The Rising of the Moon"
91 13 - - 34 See What Tomorrow Brings
1966 "Cruel War" (from Peter, Paul and Mary)
B-side: "Mon Vrai Destin"
52 4 - - - The Peter, Paul and Mary Album
"Hurry Sundown"
B-side: "Sometime Lovin'"
123 37 - - -
"The Other Side of This Life"
B-side: "Sometime Lovin'"
100 33 - - -
"For Baby (For Bobbie)"
B-side: "Hurry Sundown"
- - - - -
1967 "I Dig Rock and Roll Music"
B-side: "The Great Mandala (The Wheel of Life)"
9 - - - 4 Album 1700
"Too Much of Nothing"
B-side: "The House Song" (from Album 1700)
35 - - - 81 Late Again
1968 "Love City (Postcard from Duluth)"
B-side: "Yesterday's Tomorrow"
113 - - - -
1969 "Day is Done"
B-side: "Make Believe Town"
21 7 - - - Peter, Paul and Mommy
"Leaving on a Jet Plane"
B-side: "The House Song"
1 1 - 2 30 Album 1700
"The Marvelous Toy"
B-side: "Christmas Dinner"
- - - - - Peter, Paul and Mommy
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory


Year Album details Peak chart positions
US UK[15]
1962 Peter, Paul and Mary 1 18
1963 Moving
  • Released:
  • Label: Warner Bros.
  • Format:
2 -
In the Wind
  • Released:
  • Label: Warner Bros.
  • Format:
1 11
1964 In Concert
  • Released:
  • Label: Warner Bros.
  • Format:
4 20
1965 A Song Will Rise
  • Released:
  • Label: Warner Bros.
  • Format:
8 -
See What Tomorrow Brings
  • Released:
  • Label: Warner Bros.
  • Format:
11 -
1966 The Peter, Paul and Mary Album
  • Released:
  • Label: Warner Bros.
  • Format:
22 -
1967 Album 1700
  • Released:
  • Label: Warner Bros.
  • Format:
15 -
1968 Late Again
  • Released:
  • Label: Warner Bros.
  • Format:
14 -
1969 Peter, Paul and Mommy
  • Released:
  • Label: Warner Bros.
  • Format:
12 -
1978 Reunion
  • Released:
  • Label: Warner Bros.
  • Format:
106 -
1983 Such is Love
  • Released:
  • Label: Warner Bros.
  • Format:
- -
1986 No Easy Walk to Freedom
  • Released:
  • Label: Warner Bros.
  • Format:
173 -
1992 Flowers & Stones
  • Released:
  • Label: Warner Bros.
  • Format:
- -
1995 Once Upon the Time
  • Released:
  • Label: Warner Bros.
  • Format:
- -
  • Released:
  • Label: Warner Bros.
  • Format:
- -
2000 Don't Laugh at Me
  • Released:
  • Label: Warner Bros.
  • Format:
- -
2004 In These Times
  • Released:
  • Label: Warner Bros.
  • Format:
- -
2008 The Solo Recordings (1971–1972)
  • Released:
  • Label:
  • Format:
- -
2010 The Prague Sessions
  • Released:
  • Label:
  • Format:
- -


Live albums

  • 1964: In Concert
  • 1983: Such Is Love
  • 1988: A Holiday Celebration
  • 1993: Peter, Paul & Mommy, Too
  • 1996: LifeLines Live
  • 2012 Peter Paul and Mary Live in Japan, 1967 (two-disc expansion of an album previously released only in Japan)
  • 2014 Discovered: Live In Concert (collection of live songs from the 1980s onward that were never recorded in a studio)

See also


  • 1986: Peter, Paul & Mary 25th Anniversary Concert
  • 1988: Peter, Paul & Mary Holiday Concert
  • 1993: Peter, Paul & Mommy, Too
  • 1996: Peter, Paul & Mary: Lifelines Live
  • 2004: Peter, Paul & Mary: Carry It On — A Musical Legacy


  1. "Peter, Paul & Mary's Peter Yarrow & Noel Paul Stookey - Interviews - Tavis Smiley - PBS". Tavis Smiley - PBS.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. William Ruhlmann (April 12, 1996). "Beginnings". PETER, PAUL AND MARY A SONG TO SING ALL OVER THIS LAND. Goldmine. Retrieved 2009-12-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Just A Minute With: Peter Yarrow". Reuters.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 Peter Yarrow interviewed on the Pop Chronicles (1969)
  5. "Mary Travers", The Times (obituary), September 18, 2009<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Trex, Ethan, 11 notable presidential pardons, CNN website, 5 January 2009.
  7. "Hall of Fame Foundation".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. 8.0 8.1 tour schedule
  9. The Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Recipients List
  10. Mary Travers Of Peter, Paul and Mary Dies New York Times September 16, 2009
  11. "Thank Peter, Paul & Mary for their support of marriage equality!". Courage Campaign. Retrieved 9 October 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Whitburn, Joel. The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits. 8th ed. Minneapolis: Watson-Guptill Publications, Incorporated, 2004. p488
  13. Peter, Paul and Mary. "Peter, Paul and Mary - Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-12-21.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Betts, Graham (2004). Complete UK Hit Singles 1952-2004 (1st ed.). London: Collins. p. 593. ISBN 0-00-717931-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "PETER, PAUL & MARY".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links