Obit: Glenn Yarbrough (1930-2016)
Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafeawe

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home

Obit: Glenn Yarbrough (1930-2016)

Related threads:
Lyr/Chords ADD: Wisconsin (Brian Davies) (17)
(origins) Origins: who wrote 'Wisconsin' (answered) (5) (closed)
Lyr Req: Grandma's Letter (from Glenn Yarbrough) (14)
Glenn Yarbrough, where is he now? (25)
Review: Classic Glenn Yarbrough Coming!!! (2)
Lyr Req: Baby the Rain Must Fall (from G Yarbrough (8)
Glenn Yarbrough (3)

BrooklynJay 13 Aug 16 - 12:40 AM
Stilly River Sage 13 Aug 16 - 12:49 AM
mkebenn 13 Aug 16 - 08:35 AM
Joe Offer 13 Aug 16 - 06:22 PM
Joe Offer 13 Aug 16 - 06:33 PM
Joe Offer 13 Aug 16 - 06:49 PM
Thomas Stern 13 Aug 16 - 07:12 PM
GUEST,Jason Wang 14 Aug 16 - 10:28 AM
GUEST,Larry the Radio Guy 14 Aug 16 - 08:09 PM
keberoxu 14 Aug 16 - 08:19 PM
Joe Offer 15 Aug 16 - 12:08 AM
GUEST,pauperback 15 Aug 16 - 11:46 PM
Roger the Skiffler 16 Aug 16 - 05:01 AM
BrooklynJay 16 Aug 16 - 12:50 PM
Share Thread
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:

Subject: Obit: Glenn Yarbrough
From: BrooklynJay
Date: 13 Aug 16 - 12:40 AM

Singer Glenn Yarbrough died August 11 at age 86.

I grew up listening to him sing with The Limeliters. What a unique voice! So sad to hear of his passing.

Article in The Tennessean

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Obit: Glenn Yarbrough
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 13 Aug 16 - 12:49 AM

I haven't thought of him in years, but seeing his name here brought an instant memory of that voice. He was a major fixture in the 60s as standard songs met folk and met rock.

Baby The Rain Must Fall.

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Obit: Glenn Yarbrough (1930-2016)
From: mkebenn
Date: 13 Aug 16 - 08:35 AM

A sweet voice indeed. RIP Mike

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Obit: Glenn Yarbrough (1930-2016)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 13 Aug 16 - 06:22 PM

Jay posted a link above to a story in the Tennesseean. Since links tend to die over time, I'd like to post the text of the obituary. With music information, our long-standing policy is to prefer that Mudcatters post both a link and the text referred to. Maybe somebody will come to Mudcat 40 years from now, and these newspaper "clippings" will be helpful to them.

Singer Glenn Yarbrough dies at 86
Juli Thanki, 1:36 p.m. CDT August 12, 2016

Folk singer Glenn Yarbrough, a founding member of vocal group The Limeliters and a prolific solo artist, died at home in Nashville on Thursday night after several years of declining health. He was 86 years old.

Glenn Robertson Yarbrough was born in Milwaukee on Jan. 12, 1930. He grew up in New York City, and as a child, helped support his mother by working as a paid boy soprano at Grace Church.

After graduating from high school, he attended St. John's College in Annapolis, Md. There, he studied philosophy and roomed with Jac Holzman, co-founder of Elektra Records. One day in 1950, "This Land is Your Land" singer Woody Guthrie came to town for a performance. After the show, he played guitar and sang songs all night in Holzman and Yarbrough's room. The day after that impromptu dorm room concert, Yarbrough bought a guitar of his own.

Yarbrough served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War: first he deciphered codes, then was part of the entertainment corps. Upon returning home to New York City, he resumed his music career, then relocated to South Dakota to help his father run a square dance barn; he also performed on his own television show on one of South Dakota's first TV stations. In the mid-1950s, Al Grossman, who ran the Gate of Horn, a small folk club in Chicago, booked Yarbrough for a two-week engagement. Here, he developed some of the most important relationships of his career with artists like Odetta and Shel Silverstein.

Yarbrough then ended up in Aspen, Colo., where he ran a club called the Limelite. He ended up forming a folk group with Alex Hassilev and Lou Gottleib, who arranged music for the Kingston Trio; they took their name from the club and released their first album, "Limeliters," on Elektra Records in 1960.

(In 2013, the music of The Limeliters was introduced to a new generation when their song "Take My True Love by the Hand" was included in the final season of acclaimed drama "Breaking Bad.")

In the mid-1960s, at the peak of The Limeliters' success, Yarbrough left the group (though he often returned for reunion tours) and pursued a solo career with RCA. As a solo act, his single "Baby, the Rain Must Fall" (the theme song for the film of the same name) was his most successful release, peaking at No. 12 on Billboard's Hot 100 in 1965.

He continued to make records and tour for another five decades, but he balanced his music with his other great passion: sailing. According to his daughter Holly Yarbrough Burnett, Yarbrough built his own boat, and he'd sail until the money ran out, then he'd get back on the road to play some more shows. He continued this routine until he was 80.

He had elective surgery on his larynx in 2010 in hopes of saving his singing voice, which was faltering. The surgery was largely unsuccessful, and he went into cardiac arrest while in the recovery room. The staff resuscitated him, giving him a tracheotomy and putting him on a ventilator. After his surgical procedures, he moved in to Burnett's Nashville home to recuperate.

Though he suffered from dementia in the last years of his life, according to Burnett, her father remained a "warm, happy man."

"I feel like Dad had a wonderful, lucky life lived on his own terms and filled with adventures of his own choosing," she added. When Yarbrough died, the annual Perseid meteor shower was at his peak. "I think he wanted to hitch a ride on a passing meteor," Burnett said. "That would be just like him."

Yarbrough is survived by his children: Stephany Yarbrough, Sean Yarbrough and Holly Yarbrough Burnett, and son-in-law Robert Burnett. Funeral arrangements are unknown at this time.

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Obit: Glenn Yarbrough (1930-2016)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 13 Aug 16 - 06:33 PM

Here's the obituary from the New York Times:

Glenn Yarbrough, Folk Singer With the Limeliters, Dies at 86
AUG. 12, 2016

Glenn Yarbrough, a folk singer who at midcentury found fame and fortune with the popular trio the Limeliters but who walked away from it all for a life at sea, died on Thursday at his daughter's home in Nashville. He was 86.

The cause was complications of dementia, his daughter, Holly Yarbrough Burnett, said.

Founded in 1959, the Limeliters — comprising Mr. Yarbrough on vocals and guitar, Alex Hassilev on vocals and banjo and Lou Gottlieb on vocals and bass — was a contemporary folk group in the tradition of the Kingston Trio.

Known for their burnished tight harmonies, sophisticated if nontraditional arrangements and witty onstage banter, the Limeliters were wildly successful. Amid the folk revival of the 1960s, they appeared often on television and in live performance, sold records by the hundreds of thousands and became millionaires in the bargain.

By all critical accounts, Mr. Yarbrough's silvery lyric tenor — a voice whose lightness belied his stocky appearance — was the group's acoustic linchpin, soaring memorably in traditional tunes including "John Henry" and contemporary numbers like "Charlie, the Midnight Marauder," about a hapless suburbanite who one night mistakenly enters the wrong house.

Reviewing a 1961 concert by the Limeliters at Town Hall in Manhattan, Robert Shelton wrote in The New York Times, "Mr. Yarbrough's fine lyric voice had body, warmth and a lush vibrato that made 'Lass From the Low Country,' 'When I First Came to This Land' and 'Zhankoye' touching." He added: "Mr. Yarbrough is a top-flight vocalist."

In 1963, Mr. Yarbrough, restless, left the Limeliters, and the group disbanded. An ardent sailor, he intended to spend the next decade at sea but was persuaded by his record label, RCA Victor, to record solo albums instead.

He made a string of them, toured for some years as a solo act and had a hit single with "Baby the Rain Must Fall," the title song of the 1965 film starring Steve McQueen and Lee Remick.

In the mid-1960s Mr. Yarbrough began a collaboration with the poet and songwriter Rod McKuen that resulted in several albums, among them "The Lonely Things" and "Glenn Yarbrough Sings the Rod McKuen Songbook."

But for Mr. Yarbrough, success brought myriad discontents.

"I did a show last year at the Fairmont in San Francisco and there was a big cover charge," he told the journalist David Lamb during this period. (Mr. Lamb recounted the exchange in his 1993 book, "A Sense of Place: Listening to Americans.") Mr. Yarbrough continued: "The only people who could afford it were people already so embroiled in money that they're already dead inside. I looked out at them and they're just sitting there and they're not even living people anymore. It just doesn't give me a good feeling working for those people."

By the late 1960s Mr. Yarbrough had sold his Rolls-Royce, his Porsche, his Bentley and his two Ferraris along with, Mr. Lamb reported, his house in New Zealand, his banana plantation in Jamaica and an apartment building he owned in Beverly Hills, Calif. With the proceeds, he established a school for disadvantaged children, most of them African-American, in the mountains outside Los Angeles.

"I've always wanted to teach," Mr. Yarbrough told The Sunday Examiner & Chronicle of San Francisco in 1966. "I got into entertainment by accident. The idea for the school actually came to me when I was sailing to Hawaii. I got to thinking about why I was still doing something I didn't want to do very much, and about what I could do to make it meaningful."

The school endured until the early 1970s, when it closed for lack of funds. Mr. Yarbrough rented his home in the Hollywood Hills to the comedian Marty Feldman and, with his second wife, the former Annie Graves, and baby Holly, took to sea aboard the Jubilee, the 57-foot sailboat he had helped build. He did not return for the better part of five years.

Glenn Robertson Yarbrough was born in Milwaukee on Jan. 12, 1930. His parents, Bruce Yarbrough and the former Elizabeth Robertson, were social workers who had met while training at Hull House, the settlement house in Chicago.

While the elder Mr. Yarbrough traveled the country from one social-work post to another during the Depression, Glenn and his mother lived in New York. There, he helped support the family through his work as a boy soprano in the choir of Grace Church, the historic Episcopal church in Manhattan.

As a youth, Glenn attended St. John's College in Annapolis, Md., where he studied pre-Socratic philosophy. (His roommate, Jac Holzman, would become a founder, in 1950, of Elektra Records, which early on recorded Mr. Yarbrough singly and the Limeliters collectively.)

One day in the early 1950s, Woody Guthrie came to St. John's, an event that for the young Mr. Yarbrough proved transformative.

"I never liked the pop songs of the day; I always thought it was real stupid stuff — 'moon, June, spoon,'" Mr. Yarbrough told The Los Angeles Times in 1996. "So I went to this Woody Guthrie concert, and I was just overwhelmed — everything he sang was real. I was just a shy kid, but I walked up to him afterward with tears in my eyes and told him how much I loved what he had done. The very next day I went out and bought a guitar, and that was that."

After Army service during the Korean War, where he performed with entertainment units in Korea and Japan, Mr. Yarbrough embarked on a solo career, playing the coffeehouse circuit. He became an owner of the Limelite, an Aspen, Colo., nightclub from which the singing group would take its name.

In mid-1959, Mr. Yarbrough and Mr. Hassilev, performing with Theodore Bikel at Cosmo Alley, a Los Angeles club, were introduced to Mr. Gottlieb, and the Limeliters were born. The group made its debut at the Hungry i, the storied San Francisco nightclub, later that year.

Throughout the '70s, '80s and '90s, Mr. Yarbrough spent much of his time at sea, traversing many of the world's oceans. He returned to land periodically, when his finances were at ebb tide, appearing as a soloist, performing in Limeliters reunion tours and making many records.

He sang the musical numbers for the 1977 animated television film "The Hobbit," with characters voiced by luminaries including Orson Bean, Richard Boone, John Huston and Otto Preminger. In the 1990s and afterward, Mr. Yarbrough toured in a one-man Christmas show, "The Forgotten Carols," with book, music and lyrics by Michael McLean.

Before moving to his daughter's home six years ago, Mr. Yarbrough lived, during his dry-land periods, on Lake Chapala, near Guadalajara, Mexico, where he grew fruit and vegetables to give to the poor.

Mr. Yarbrough's first marriage, to Peggy Goodhart, ended in divorce, as did his second, to Ms. Graves, and his third, to Laurie Ann Poole. At his death, he was separated from his fourth wife, Kathleen Pommer.

Besides his daughter Ms. Burnett, his survivors include two children from his first marriage, Stephany Yarbrough and Sean Yarbrough; two stepdaughters, Brooke and Heather, from his marriage to Ms. Poole; a grandson; and a great-grandson.

With Ms. Burnett, also a singer, Mr. Yarbrough recorded several albums, including "Family Portrait" and "No One Is Alone."

Mr. Gottlieb, of the Limeliters, died in 1996. Mr. Hassilev, who juggled a long career as a musician, record producer and actor, lives in California.

Even when the Limeliters were at the height of their acclaim — or perhaps especially then — Mr. Yarbrough had deep misgivings about his unexpected calling.

"The only thing success has taught me is that success is meaningless," he told The Saturday Evening Post in 1961. "An audience is like a lynch mob. Three years ago they were walking out on me. Now that they know we've been on the Sullivan show, they come and cheer."

A version of this article appears in print on August 13, 2016, on page A14 of the New York edition with the headline: Glenn Yarbrough, Lyric Folk Tenor With the Limeliters, Is Dead at 86.

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Obit: Glenn Yarbrough (1930-2016)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 13 Aug 16 - 06:49 PM

All that being said, I have to say that I never really loved Mr. Yarbrough's singing or personna. He had a good folkie pedigree - parents worked at Hull House, Jac Holzman was his college roomate, he fell in love with folk music after attending a Woody Guthrie concert. I'll grant that some of the recordings he made with the Limeliters were very, very good. But Yarbrough seemed more at home with the smarmy, navel-contemplating singer-songwriter stuff, than he was with real folk music. Yarbrough left the Limeliters in 1963, and began a collaboration with Rod McKuen. What can I say?

I saw Glenn Yarbrough perform only once or twice, in the 1990s when he was singing neo-psychological stuff that had very little connection to folk music. And his stage talk made him sound aging and disillusioned, which I suppose he was.

He had moments of brilliance, but much of the time he was stuck in pretentiously self-contemplating music that was very commercial. I think he had a lot of potential, most of it unrealized.
But may he rest in peace and maybe realize his potential in another realm.


P.S. I didn't like Lou Gottleib, either. I found him to be kinda creepy. I did like Alex Hassilev, though - and I like most of the Limeliters recordings.

P.P.S. Don't waste your time telling me how awful it is for me to speak ill of the dead. Tell us what you thought of Yarbrough and his performances.

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Obit: Glenn Yarbrough (1930-2016)
From: Thomas Stern
Date: 13 Aug 16 - 07:12 PM


a vast catalog of recordings.

The first was a 78rpm for Jac Holzman's STRATFORD label:

Stratford ST-3
JH 506 A "Follow the Drinking Gourd"
JH 506 B "The Reapers Ghost"
Glenn Yarborough

a couple of LP's on Elektra in the late 50's (one with Marilyn Child)
and a track in Elektra's Treatury of Folk Songs for Children, which seems not to be from either Elektra LP. Anyone know if it was an outtake ??


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Obit: Glenn Yarbrough (1930-2016)
From: GUEST,Jason Wang
Date: 14 Aug 16 - 10:28 AM

One of my favorite voices of the era. RIP Glenn.

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Obit: Glenn Yarbrough (1930-2016)
From: GUEST,Larry the Radio Guy
Date: 14 Aug 16 - 08:09 PM

I remember in university a friend who was a Glenn Yarbrough fanatic.......and I was really into Chad Mitchell (first from the trio, then when he put out those two great solo lp's).   We had lots of debates as to why Yarbrough/Mitchell was better.

But no question........even if I wasn't always crazy about the songs he sang after he left The Limelighters, the quality of his voice was incredible. And THe Limelighters were a great group.....very funny, well executed harmonies, and Glenn Yarbrough's voice stood out.

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Obit: Glenn Yarbrough (1930-2016)
From: keberoxu
Date: 14 Aug 16 - 08:19 PM

This is one of those funny things. I am young enough that, in order to know who this was, his records would have to have been in my parents' record collection. The Kingston Trio they had, but not the Limeliters nor Glenn Yarbrough. So Yarbrough was to me a show-biz name whose product was always on display, whose name was tossed around in the press, and I had no clue what he sounded like. A sheltered upbringing?

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Obit: Glenn Yarbrough (1930-2016)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Aug 16 - 12:08 AM

Here's a nice Limeliters album so you "young people" can listen to Glenn Yarbrough:Joy Across the Land - 1991 reunion album

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Obit: Glenn Yarbrough (1930-2016)
From: GUEST,pauperback
Date: 15 Aug 16 - 11:46 PM

Glen Yarbrough, Burl Ives, same difference, could never keep the two straight, though I had the same problem with Newman and McQueen; probably just me. I miss reading MGM, also.

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Obit: Glenn Yarbrough (1930-2016)
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 16 Aug 16 - 05:01 AM

I never saw them live but I did enjoy the Limeliters. My favourite was the Streetsweeping Man.

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Obit: Glenn Yarbrough (1930-2016)
From: BrooklynJay
Date: 16 Aug 16 - 12:50 PM

Ah, I remember it well!

Here it is, from the Limeliters' album Our Men in San Francisco:

Max Goolis, the Street Sweeping Man

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")

Mudcat time: 22 January 8:46 AM EST

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.