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Dave Guard 3/1991

Dave_GuardMarch 22, 1991 – Dave Guard was born October 19th 1934 and along with Nick Reynolds and Bob Shane, was one of the founding members of The Kingston Trio. He spent his early years first in San Francisco, and then his junior high school and high school years in Honolulu, pre-state Hawaii. Guard grew up hearing the soft vocal melodies and strummed guitars of Hawaiian music. He was particularly attracted to the unique rhythmic sounds of finger-picked slack-key ukulele and guitar music masterfully performed by the many of his neighbors and beach boys.While an undergraduate at Stanford, Dave started a pickup group with Nick Reynolds and Bob Shane.

He called his group Dave Guard and the Calypsonians. He kept the group together after Reynolds and Shane left, changing the name to The Kingston Quartet.

In 1956 a publicist in the area, Frank Werber, offered his services to Guard and his bandmates, including Reynolds at the time. Werber’s offer, however, was contingent upon replacing Gannon and Bogue, and shortly thereafter, both left the group. Guard and Reynolds contacted former Calypsonian member Shane (who was performing part-time in Honolulu) asking him to join the reconstituted group. In 1957, back again as a trio as in their previous college days, they changed its name to The Kingston Trio.

With material gathered from a variety of sources, under Guard’s musical arrangements and direction, the Kingston Trio quickly became a success. Guard, Shane and Reynolds worked well together. In addition to developing the characteristic “Kingston Trio sound” of the group’s two guitars and a banjo, success came to the group from Guard’s musical arrangements and renditions of folk and Irish ballads, Shane’s talent for style and performance along with an innate knowledge of what pleased audiences, and Reynolds’ management of the group’s logistics.

Under contract with Capitol Records, the Trio became a huge commercial and influential success with hit songs such as “Tom Dooley,” “A Worried Man,” “Hard Travelin’,” “Tijuana Jail,” “Greenback Dollar,” “Reverend Mr. Black,” “Sloop John B.,” “Scotch And Soda,” “Merry Minuet,” “M.T.A.”, “Zombie Jamboree”, “Hard, Ain’t It Hard,” “Three Jolly Coachmen,” and “Raspberries, Strawberries”.

In the following years Guard was aware that among the Kingston Trio, he was the only one who could read music and who had some understanding of music theory; his partners basically played by rote, and the three of them sang in simple three-part harmony. With help from the Trio’s bassist and musicologist David “Buck” Wheat, Guard embarked on a self-education program of learning more about harmony, and becoming more and more disenchanted with what appeared to him to be a lack of willingness or effort to “improve” on the part of his partners.

By late 1960, Guard’s frustration and discontent with his partners, combined with an alleged embezzlement of the group’s finances, had reached a point where he no longer wanted to work with Reynolds and Shane. Giving his partners notice that he intended to leave the Trio, and unwilling to cause the group he had founded to disband, Guard agreed to stay on with the Trio until his personal commitments were completed, and until Shane and Reynolds were able to find a suitable replacement for him. By early 1961 Shane and Reynolds had found a replacement for Guard. After a reportedly acrimonious meeting with Shane, Reynolds, and the Trio’s business manager over the future of the Trio, Guard quit the group. The group continued to perform for another six years as the Kingston Trio before disbanding in 1967, with John Stewart taking Guard’s place.

In 1961, shortly after leaving the Trio, Dave formed a new group, The Whiskeyhill Singers, They toured and released an album and were asked to perform several folk songs on the Academy Award winning soundtrack of How the West Was Won. Their voices can be heard on “The Erie Canal”, “900 miles”, “The Ox Driver”, “Raise A Ruckus Tonight”.

Dave performed solo on the tracks “Wanderin'” and “Poor Wayfarin’ Stranger”. In late 1962 he moved to Sydney, Australia. There he hosted a national TV variety show called Dave’s Place. Until his return to the United States in 1968. Through the ’80’s he continued to do solo performances, along with several “reunions” of the old Kingston Trio.

In 2000 The Kingston Trio was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame. He died from lymphatic cancer on March 22, 1991 at age 56.

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