It's only been a few years since my dad plopped an old 33 on his turn table and we sipped coffees to the melodies of Peter, Paul and Mary. I fell in love. That same vinyl spun around and around and around for months. When I was cleaning. When I was reading. Always. I started treating myself to album after album - though I think my dad had their best from the start. Last weekend we took my dad's old turntable to Hawthorne Stereo for a diagnosis. Within the hour we were back at John's, the voice of Karen Carpenter streaming through the living room speakers. The Carpenters were a feature in both of our childhoods - my parents played "We've Only Just Begun" at their wedding, us girls selected it for the renewal of their vows 25 years later. John's family danced to their Christmas albums each December. It seemed only fitting to be our first album on this record player that had now become "ours" - one of the many things we've taken from the lives of our parents.
Peter Yarrow, Noel Paul Stookey and Mary Travers made their debut in 1961 at the Bitter End in Greenwich Village. On the strength of this performance, they were signed to a recording contract with Warner Brothers. Released in May 1962, their first eponymously titled album included their rendition of Pete Seeger's song, "If I Had a Hammer," a hit that was the first record to bring protest music to a mainstream audience. Eighteen months later their version of "Blowin' in the Wind" became a hit, and the first commercially successful recording of a song written by Bob Dylan.
As their fame grew, Peter, Paul and Mary mixed music with political and social activism. In 1963 the trio marched with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, Ala., and Washington, D.C. The three participated in countless demonstrations against the war in Vietnam. And they sang at the 1969 March on Washington, which Mr. Yarrow helped to organize.
Exhausted by nearly 10 years of nonstop touring and recording, Mr. Yarrow, Mr. Stookey and Ms. Travers disbanded in 1970. But it proved to be only an intermission. They reunited on a part-time basis in 1978, and continued to perform together for decades. They have five Grammy Awards and a handful of gold and platinum albums. Ms. Travers died on Sept. 16, 2009, at 72.
The New York Times.