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The 6th Billboard #1 hit single- “Tom Dooley”- The Kingston Trio. #1 for 1 week November 17, 1958. Capitol Records. Written by Thomas Land. Genre: Folk. Time: 3:01. B-Side:”Ruby Red.” Grade: A+.

Here is a link to the story behind the folk song “Tom Dooley”

What is the story behind the folk song “Tom Dooley?”

There are many versions of “Tom Dooley” but this 1958 version by The Kingston Trio is the most well known- it went to #1, sold six million copies, it won a Grammy Award for Best Country and Western Performance,  and is credited by some as kicking off the folk music boom of the late 50’s- 1960’s. It was a big hit all over the world-#1 in Australia, Canada and Norway. It peaked at #5 in the UK. It was the first and biggest hit that The Kingston Trio ever had- they eventually had 17 Hot 100- and ten Top 40 hits from 1958-63. Five of their first six albums went to #1 on the album chart. The members of this  San Francisco trio at the time of “Tom Dooley” were Dave Guard, Bob Shane and Nick Reynolds. The best known member of The Kingston Trio would be John Stewart who replace Guard in 1961 when he left to form another group.



  1. We had a family member who actually loved folk music and this song. We lovingly referred to her as “the cornball”. Btw, now the song is looping in my head. Thanks for that. Lol.

    • I’d be about 10 when I heard it on the radio… funny how it stayed in my head ever since! Those were the days! Bobby Vee, Dell Shannon, and all the rest, and then along came the Beatles and changed everything!

    • Its interesting how so many artists who were big before The Beatles and the British Invasion- lost their steam when they came along in 1964. I was just looking at Ricky Nelson for example..

    • there was a dividing line- some of the artists would make little comebacks later on but some weren’t so fortunate. Interesting period of time in music to look at. People were ready for change.

    • Yes, I think they were ready for a change, certainly in the UK… all the rationing and austerity after the 2nd world war… all the BS that we had to listen to from the politicians about us never having had it so good… the so-called ‘teddy’ boys (influenced dress and music-wise by Elvis and all those other American rock ‘n’ rollers…) but something had to give. Strange times, even the Beatles, in their early days were under the influence… for the first time in the UK the youth began to assert itself. In the very early 60’s you were either a ‘mod’ or a ‘rocker / greaser’… and pretty soon fashion and music and everything exploded… good times… now, for me anyway there seems a great deal of blandness in all areas, blandness and mind-numbing wannabe X factor manufactured industrial music… Back then we had a revolution, nay, several revolutions, in music.

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