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GLENN YARBOROUGH, 1930-2016

Glenn Yarbrough, a folk singer inspired by Woody Guthrie who hit the pop charts with “Baby the Rain Must Fall” and stepped away from the  music world to teach and sail, died Thursday in Nashville. The cause was complications of dementia. He was 86.

A college roommate of Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman, he  recorded four solo albums in the 1950s, including two for Elektra, before becoming the singer and guitarist in The Limeliters, named for the folk club he co-owned in Aspen, Colo. Yarbrough and the trio recorded one album for Elektra before signing with RCA Victor and releasing 12 albums between 1961 and 1965 when the group split up.

A high-profile group during the folk revival, they gained popularity through multiple appearances on The Ed Sullivan ShowDinah Shore’s talk show and Vic Damone’s The Lively Ones between 1960 and ’63, the year Yarborough left the group.

Yarborough intended to give up music and sail but was convinced by RCA to go solo. His fourth album, Baby The Rain Must Fall, brought him his first Top 40 album and single as the title track peaked at #12 in 1965, marking his only time in the Top 40.  Elmer Bernstein and Ernie Sheldon wrote “Baby The Rain Must Fall” for the film of the same name starring Steve McQueen and Lee Remick in 1965.

Yarborough would release a dozen albums for RCA Victor between 1964 and’68 and six LPs for Warner Bros. in the 1970s, several of which were collaborations with Rod McKuen.

Disillusioned by the moneyed audiences he was reaching in the late 1960s and early ‘70s, Yarborough started selling off his possessions and real estate and established a school for disadvantaged children outside L.A. The school ultimately failed and Yarborough, with his wife, spent five years in the mid- to late-‘70s at sea on his 57-foot boat .

Yarborough spent much of the ‘80s and ‘90s at sea as well, reuniting with the Limeliters, doing solo tours and releasing solo albums to finance his seafaring trips. Late in life he lived near Guadalajara, Mexico, where he grew fruit and vegetables to give to the poor.

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