Obituary

Bob Shane, Founding Member of Grammy-Winners The Kingston Trio, Dies at 85

Bob Shane, John Stewart and Nick Reynolds of Kingston Trio
Bettmann/Getty Images

Left to right: Bob Shane, John Stewart and Nick Reynolds of Kingston Trio photographed on Aug. 16, 1961 in Hollywood, Calif.

Bob Shane, the last surviving member of The Kingston Trio, a celebrated Bay Area group who sparked the folk music revival in the 1950s, died Sunday (Jan. 26) of complications connected with pneumonia. He was 85.

Shane, Dave Guard and Nick Reynolds established the act in San Francisco in the 1950s, and produced hit after folk hit with seventeen songs impacting the Hot 100, and another 11 titles on the Billboard 200 chart.

The Kingston Trio are best known for "Tom Dooley," which led the Hot 100 in November 1958 and earned the group one of two Grammy Awards, bagging the trophy for best country & western performance. 

The following year, the group snagged the Grammy in the newly-created “folk” category. All told, they earned eight nominations 

Shane returned to the Grammys in 2011 when he and Kingston Trio family accepted the Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Grammy at a special reception.

Born Robert Schoen in Hilo, Hawaii, on Feb. 1, 1934, Shane met Reynolds and Guard at Stanford University. With his passing, all three members of the Kingston Trio have perished. Guard died in 1991 of lymphoma, aged 56. Reynolds died Oct. 1, 2008 from acute respiratory disease, aged 75.

In a tribute to the trio on their Grammys Lifetime Achievement Award, Peter, Paul And Mary's Peter Yarrow said their music was a transcendental force in a difficult political climate. 

“Their music was a balm to the growing angst of a generation that was soon to turn our country and our world upside down,” he wrote in 2014. “They tossed off renditions of song gems that felt effortless yet genuine, cool yet caring, sympathetic yet ‘no big ting.’ Sometimes they were wistful, as in ‘Sloop John B’; sometimes they sang a great, happy joke, as in ‘M.T.A.’; sometimes they were oddly, at least for men in those times, sensitive, as in ‘Tom Dooley’; and sometimes they were wonderfully cutting-edge ‘hip,’ as in Bob Shane's classic rendition of ‘Scotch And Soda.’

Shane was previously married to Louise Shane, and had five children and eight grandchildren, USA Today reports.

"To me," writes Liane Schoen Soer, the late artist's niece, "he was just my uncle Bob, while fans around the world adored him as a great singer and fun guy."