Nicholas Wells Reynolds, 1933 - 2008
Nick Reynolds was the heart and soul of the seminal pop folk group, The Kingston Trio. With his college buddies Dave Guard (1934-1991) and Bob Shane (b. 1934), Nick and the Trio transformed American popular music, bringing traditional folk songs, sea chanteys, calypsos, world music, and more to an unprecedented level of popularity and visibility. The group's commercial success, widely belittled by folk purists at the time, paved the way for recording companies to sign and promote traditional musicians, singer-songwriters, topical/political musicians, and international performers - all because of the astounding album sales of the Kingston Trio between 1958 and 1961, more than $175 million in today's dollars.
At the core of the Trio's sound was the soaring tenor harmony of Nick, and the breakneck energy of many of the group's signature numbers was derived from Nick's supersonic tenor guitar strumming and his masterful percussion accompaniment on bongos, conga, and boom-bams. The late singer/songwriter John Stewart, himself a Trio member for six years following Guard's departure, said that "Nick Reynolds was the real rhythm of the Kingston Trio." And Trio-mate and best friend Bob Shane wrote after Nick's passing, "Nobody could nail a harmony part like Nick. He could hit it immediately, exactly where it needed to be, absolutely note perfect, all on the natch. Pure genius."
But beyond the appreciation of his fellow musicians and the adulation of music lovers, it is as a man that Nick Reynolds' absence is most keenly felt. A devoted husband, father, brother, and friend, Nick was gifted with a natural and innate largeness of soul that embraced life and people with an unaffected enthusiasm and joy. To know him for five minutes was to love him forever - a sentiment that he returned in kind and with utter sincerity. Nick was the self-described "runt of the litter" in his family and in the Kingston Trio, but his self-effacing humor could never obscure the truth that survives him. Short in stature though he may have been - as a musician and man, he was a giant.
Five Signature Nick Reynolds Performances
The Mountains of Mourne
A Worried Man