The Limeliters’ Glenn Yarbrough Dies
Glenn Yarbrough, well-known folk singer and a founder of the Limeliters, died in Nashville on Thursday (Aug. 11). He was 86.
A renowned vocalist, Yarbrough found success as both the lead singer for the folk trio the Limeliters and as a solo artist after leaving the band in 1963. He is known for hits such as "Baby the Rain Must Fall," recorded for the Steve McQueen film of the same name.
Born on Jan. 12, 1930, Yarbrough started his life in Milwaukee, Wis., before moving with his parents to New York, where they were practicing social workers. While his father traveled the country from one post to another, Yarbrough lived with his mother, helping to support the family as a paid boy soprano at a local Manhattan church. He attended college in Annapolis, Md., where he met Jac Holzman, the eventual founder of Elektra Records and recorder of much of Yarbrough's music.
After serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War -- first as a code breaker, then as part of the entertainment corps -- Yarbrough returned to the States and began performing in clubs and coffeehouses and on local television shows. He eventually became an owner of the Limelite nightclub in Aspen, Colo., and in 1959, established the Limeliters with fellow folk contemporaries Alex Hassilev and Lou Gottlieb. The trio took its name from the club Yarbrough ran and became immensely popular for their tight harmonies, non-traditional arrangements and Yarbrough's lyrical tenor.
As folk music made a comeback in the 1960s, the Limeliters performed live and on countless television shows, and sold hundreds of thousands of records; their second album, Tonight: In Person, spent 74 weeks at No. 5 on the Billboard charts. In 1963, Yarbrough branched out into a solo career, releasing numerous albums on his own and finding his biggest hit with "Baby the Rain Must Fall" in 1965.
In many respects, however, Yarbrough's life outside of the recording industry was even more fascinating: In the late 1960s, he opened a school for disadvantaged youth in Los Angeles after selling his most expensive possessions, including a host of cars, a house in New Zealand and even a banana plantation in Jamaica. And when the school closed in the 1970s, Yarbrough took to the seas; an avid sailor, he would spend the better part of the next three decades aboard his 57-foot sailboat, the Jubilee, traveling all over the world.
Despite these illustrious and varying adventures, Yarbrough always found his way back to music, performing as a solo artist and on reunion tours with the Limeliters when he wasn't abroad. In 1997, he released an album with his daughter Holly, and he continued to record into the early 2000s, before losing his ability to sing in 2010 due to throat surgery.
Yarbrough succumbed to complications of dementia, the New York Times reports. He is survived by his children, Stephany, Sean and Holly; stepdaughters Brooke and Heather; one grandson and one great-grandson.
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