Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Ahead of Their Time

When dad would fire up attempt to squeeze some audible worth from The Kingston Trio it seemed obvious enough that they were hopelessly uncool, but I never understood any of the back story:
Despite the Kingston Trio's nearly unprecedented success in record sales, by early 1961 a rift developed and deepened between Guard on one side and Shane and Reynolds on the other. Guard had been referred to in the press and on the albums' liner notes as the "acknowledged leader" of the group,[8] a description never wholly endorsed by Shane and Reynolds, who felt themselves equal contributors to the group's repertoire and success. Guard wanted Shane and Reynolds to follow his lead and learn more of the technical aspects of music and to redirect the group's song selections,[41] in part because of the withering criticism that the group had been getting from more traditional folk performers for the Trio's smoother and more commercial versions of folk songs and for the money-making copyrights that the Kingston group had secured for their arrangements of public domain songs.[1] Shane and Reynolds felt that the formula for song selection and performance that they had painstakingly developed and rehearsed still served them well.[41]
Furthermore, over $100,000 appeared to be missing from the Trio's publishing royalties (an accounting error eventually rectified)[41] and that created an additional irritant to both sides: to Guard because he regarded it as inexcusable carelessness and to Shane and Reynolds because it highlighted what they perceived as Guard's propensity to claim individual copyright for some of the group's songs,[42] including "Tom Dooley" (though Guard eventually lost a suit over copyright for that number to Alan Lomax, Frank Warner, and Frank Proffitt)[43] and "Scotch and Soda".[42]
Such an obvious business model: take someone else's freely-given effort and spin it into cash. It's like they invented the internet.

What assholes.

14 comments:

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

They should sue Bill Gates.
~

J— said...

Wow, "Tom Dooley" is from way back, like just after the Civil War, if I remember right.

Off to follow the Wikilinks.

J— said...

The Wikipedia entry for Frank Proffitt lists his occupations as "farmer, cultural guardian, infrequent songwriter."

I think I need to update my CV to include adjectives, like imaginary tough guy, inveterate underachiever.

fish said...

The Huffington Trio

Substance McGravitas said...

Well done.

J Neo Marvin said...

In a further twist, Guard was eventually replaced by an actual songwriter, John Stewart, who among other things wrote "Daydream Believer" for the Monkees.

Having had nonstop injections of Kingston Trio records from birth, I have a lingering affection for this stuff, corny as it may be.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Wow, "Tom Dooley" is from way back, like just after the Civil War, if I remember right.

As far as I know, it's about a married guy who contracted an STD from his mistress and kills her in a fit of rage.

Having had nonstop injections of Kingston Trio records from birth, I have a lingering affection for this stuff, corny as it may be.

Me too, and I love The Merry Minuet.

El Manquécito said...

Despite having been subjected to endless KT in my youth I can't stand them though I did like the late John Stewart, like Neo sez a real songwriter and a funny guy.

Substance McGravitas said...

When someone says "The Kingston Trio" I hear The Folksmen instead.

J Neo Marvin said...

The Folksmen were to the Kingston Trio what the Rutles were to the Beatles, so that's no surprise.

Dr.BDH said...

But then Dave Guard went to Hawaii and recorded Gabby Pahiunui and brought real Hawaiian slack key music to the world.

http://www.discogs.com/Gabby-Pahinui-Pure-Gabby/release/2186773

So there's that.

Substance McGravitas said...

I got some Gabby! Fine stuff.

Anonymous said...

"The Kingston Trio were not the first recording artists to claim copyrights to material which was assumed to be in the public domain. In the 1920s, Carson Robison, the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers and others recorded many traditional songs which they or their publishers copyrighted. Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, and the Weavers did the same in the 1940s and 1950s.

"Similarly, folk song collectors such as John and Alan Lomax routinely copyrighted the songs in their published collections...

"Be that as it may, a protracted legal battle followed the success of the Kingston Trio's recording of "Tom Dooley," no doubt fueled by the tremendous profits the song was generating, which resulted in an out-of-court settlement in 1962 whereby all subsequent royalties that accrued to the song were to go to Ludlow Music who represented the interests of John A. Lomax, Alan Lomax and Frank Warner..."

http://www.kingstontrioplace.com/tdooleydoc.htm

Substance McGravitas said...

Yes, the Kingston Trio were jerks and others were also jerks.