Aretha Franklin

Peter, Paul & Mary Bassist Dick Kniss Dies

Peter, Paul & Mary Bassist Dick Kniss Dies

Dick Kniss, a bassist who performed for five decades with the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary and co-wrote the John Denver hit "Sunshine on My Shoulders," has died. He was 74.

Kniss died Wednesday of pulmonary disease at a hospital near their home in the Hudson Valley town of Saugerties, said his wife, Diane Kniss.

'Sunshine On My Shoulders'

Kniss was born in Portland, Ore., and was an original member of Denver's 1970s band. He also played with jazz greats including Herbie Hancock and Woody Herman.

Active in the 1960s civil rights movement, Kniss performed at benefits for a range of causes and played during the first celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday as a national holiday.

Peter, Paul and Mary's Peter Yarrow said in a statement that Kniss was "our intrepid bass player for almost as long as we performed together.

"He was a dear and beloved part of our closest family circle and his bass playing was always a great fourth voice in our music as well as, conceptually, an original and delightfully surprising new statement added to our vocal arrangements," Yarrow said.

Visiting hours are set for 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday at the Seamon-Wilsey Funeral Home in Saugerties, with a service at 2 p.m.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.