Nick Reynolds, Founding Member of the Kingston Trio, Dies at 75
Nick Reynolds, a founding member of the Kingston Trio, passed away Wednesday, October 1st of complications following surgery at a Chula Vista, Calif., hospital. He was 75. His passing leaves Bob Shane as the only surviving member of the original Trio. The third founder, Dave Guard, died in 1991.
Jokingly referred to in concert as the “runt of the litter,” and usually the butt of the jokes in their early 1960s TV and radio commercials for the soft drink 7-Up, Reynolds’ voice and tenor guitar work were a big part of the success of the Trio, one of the most popular folk groups of the “Folk Era,” a time period which ran roughly from 1958-64. His on-stage energy and care-free attitude helped the group become a sell-out live act as well as a recording success.
He met Bob Shane while the two were attending Menlo Park Business College in the late 1950s. They discovered a mutual interest in music, and were soon playing at frat parties and local Bay Area hangouts. After meeting Stanford graduate Dave Guard, they got serious about the music business, and hired Frank Werber to manage their career, a move which paid off big time.
The Kingston Trio recorded three dozen albums and helped pioneer the college concert circuit, building a huge following that placed them on the cover of Life magazine in mid-1959. At one point in 1960, they had four LPs on Billboard’s Top Ten SIMULTANEOUSLY, a feat that has never been equaled.
After the trio disbanded in 1967, Reynolds retired to Oregon to spend time with family. He returned to the Trio for a period in the late 1980s, joining original member Shane and banjoist George Grove. He retired again in the 1990s following some health problems.
I had the opportunity to speak with Nick a couple of times in the late 1980s, before he rejoined the trio. He was hosting and tending bar at Bula’s Pub & Eatery, a clean, well-lighted place on Orange Avenue in his old home town of Coronado. He was gracious, and we had a nice chat about his time with the group, and what he had been doing since. But I was very glad when I learned he decided to strap on his old tenor guitar for another go at the songs he helped make famous.