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.

craig hodgkins


~ by Craig Hodgkins on October 3, 2008.

3 Responses to “Nick Reynolds, Founding Member of the Kingston Trio, Dies at 75”

  1. The “budgie” was the best at almost anything he tried. He was Loved, Respected in so many ways,and now, missed by so many, in so many ways. He was such a positive force on stage and off, now, that energy, that “synerergy”, I”m sure it will attach itself to the righr life-force when it finds it. May GOD bless you “BRAH” and your next peformance be the the best you’ve ever done! You’ve got the start for a hellave band up there…Dave “Babyguard”…”David Buck-Wheat”…”Pat Horine”…
    “Just” Roger” Ganbil”…your ole pal “Johnny Stew”..and the man bigger than lifeitself, “Stan Kase on base…so many more I could thier name…I just cant. We live, we die, we do our best(some do some try)to cross the river,
    Look for the show us the way home signs…and as some believe, it’ll start all over again.
    Nick, John…are two jus waiting AND, to many of my good radio buds that checkcked out this year as well – should be a decent choir…see ya soon my friends. One quick Nick story (there are more) the oldies statio I was running brought the guys in for a 3 night SELL OUT at out fine art theater in downtown Albuq.New New Newmico,the guys got in early enoughfor lunch and I had the entire thing cateredThis was a client and they wanted to please…a high dollar restaurant for a high dollar crowd, with a great view of the SADNDIA NOUNTAINS we had a table of some high roller clients, the trio entourourage’ a few hangers-on and some radio staff. I was the station Omanager Manager at the time so, naturally the finall bill comes to me ( as all the restaurant managers know my face) YOU THINK THIS COUNTRY IS IN IS IN NEED OF “BAILOUT” NOW…


    • Tomm:
      Nick took a lot of ribbing in stride; but he was a pretty cool guy himself!
      I hadn’t known that he raced and collected fine cars.
      He was a big fan and friend of Josh White, apparently. He named his son after Josh.
      El Chino


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