Mary, ... Peter & Paul - Chapter 1

Mary, ... Peter & Paul ­– Chapter 1
I got a call in September of 1979 from Mimi Fariña, head of the Bread & Roses Festival of Music, telling me that Peter, Paul & Mary would be playing the festival that October, and had asked for my services as the festival’s house bassist to back them for their show. I was delighted. We played a rehearsal the day before the show, a sound check, a pre-show warm-up, and then two shows, all in the course of maybe 48 hours. The first chapter in Acoustic Stories is about those rehearsals and shows, the role of the bass player in Peter, Paul & Mary, and also, about falling for Mary.

But what is not in the book is what I learned from them at the first rehearsal. I saw how hard they had worked. It was clear they had spent MANY hours in the woodshed, practicing relentlessly not only as a full group – three singers, two guitarists and string bassist – but also as subgroups: certainly guitar rehearsals for the two boys, maybe rhythm section rehearsals with bass added; and likely vocals-intensive sessions. They had said that our rehearsal was going to be at 1 o’clock sharp, and they walked in at 1 o’clock sharp. They were ready to play. There were no false starts, no, “How did we do this last time we practiced it?” questions, no stopping to eat or drink, no wobbling, no wasted time. They moved as one. I felt no underlying currents of dis-ease among them, rare for a band to be without visible inter-personal conflicts free-floating around. That they’re shows are consistently engaging is a tribute to their long hours or practicing. As new boy on their block, I was the slowpoke in the crowd I’m sure.

After playing the Festival with them, I wrote a story about the experience that I called, “MARY, … Peter & Paul.” I mailed a copy to Mary via PP&M’s agent in Chicago.

The next time I ran into Mary was maybe 6 months later, in 1982, backstage at the Concord Pavilion where they were playing. We settled down in a Green Room and I said, “Mary, I wrote a story about playing with you guys. I tried to send it to you through your agents in Chicago. Did you receive it?”

And she said, “A story? About playing with us? Hmm, I don’t know. All I’d have to do is read the first two sentences and I’d know whether I had seen it. Do you have a copy with you?”

I had three copies with me.

I took one out of my jacket pocket, unfolded it, and handed it to her. The title was typeset on the cover page about like this:

Mary, … Peter & Paul

Mary looked down at the title, then she looked at me and said, “Oh, I like it already!”
Mary’s passing in 2005 brought the song of Peter, Paul & Mary to its last chord. They had a 47-year run entertaining millions of people around the globe, spreading smiles everywhere they went. They sang from the Peter, Paul & Mary heart with a message of song and singing, love, peace. It was a thrill and an honor to have played with them. I hope the three stories about them in my book, “Mary, … Peter & Paul,” “Catching up with Mary,” and “Remembering Peter, Paul & Mary,” do them justice.