Nick Reynolds

1933 – 2008

Nick Reynolds, one of the founders of The Kingston Trio and one its most beloved members, passed away peacefully in San Diego on October 1, at 10:05 pm 2008. He was 75 years old.


At the height of their popularity, The Kingston Trio (comprised of Reynolds, Bob Shane, Dave Guard, and later John Stewart) was arguably the number one vocal group in the world, single-handedly ushering in the folk music boom of the late 50s and early 60s that spawned the likes of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Peter, Paul & Mary and others. Their release of “Tom Dooley” in the fall of 1958 changed popular music forever, inspiring legions of young people to pick up guitars and banjoes and sing folk music. “We got America up and singing,” Reynolds once modestly reflected.

Known affectionately within group as the “Budgie” and “The Runt Of The Litter,” Nick Reynolds embodied the best of the Trio’s wide and diverse talents. “He was clearly the best entertainer in the Trio,” said John Stewart, “and one of the best natural musicians I have ever worked with.” Bob Shane added, “Nobody could nail a harmony part like Nick. He could hit it immediately, exactly where it needed to be, absolutely note perfect – all on the natch. Pure genius.” Reynolds was also a gifted lead singer whose smooth tenor voice was featured on many Trio tunes.


Nicholas Welles Reynolds was born in San Diego and raised in nearby Coronado, the son of Navy Captain Stewart Shirley Reynolds and Jane Keck Reynolds. He was the youngest of three children. His training for the Kingston Trio, he said, came from learning complex harmony arrangements in family sing-along with his sisters Barbara and Jane, led by Captain Reynolds who was an accomplished guitarist and singer in his own right.

Upon graduation from Coronado High School in 1951, Nick attended the University of Arizona, and later San Diego State. He graduated from Menlo Business College in Palo Alto, California in 1956. While at Menlo he met Bob Shane who introduced him to Dave Guard, a graduate student at nearby Stanford. The group was later discovered by San Francisco publicist Frank Werber and signed to Capitol Records.


Nick would remain in the Trio until the original group disbanded in 1967. After a brief time building racing cars, Nick and his family moved to Port Orford, Oregon where he lived for the next 17 years as a rancher, antique dealer and owner of the Star Theatre, Port Orford’s only movie theatre.


In 1983, he rejoined former Trio member John Stewart for one album, Revenge of The Budgie; in 1991, he rejoined Bob Shane in The Kingston Trio and remained with the group until retiring in 2003. In recent years, Nick and John Stewart hosted an annual “Trio Fantasy Camp” in Scottsdale, Arizona.


While music was always an important part of Nick Reynolds life, he was also an avid photographer, skilled skeet shooter, competitive tennis player, passionate Formula B race car builder and driver, antique collector, restaurateur (he co-owned The Trident in Sausalito, California), astute businessman, dedicated community volunteer, and, above all, a deeply loving father, husband, brother and friend.


To those who knew Nick Reynolds personally, he will be remembered as a gentle, incredibly perceptive individual with a wry wit and a generous heart. His greatest accomplishment, he felt, was inspiring so many people to pick up the guitar. His greatest hope was for world piece.


Nick is survived by his wife, Leslie; sons, Joshua Stewart Reynolds, Portland, Oregon and John Pike Reynolds, Coronado; daughters, Annie Clancy Reynolds Moore and Jennifer Kristie Reynolds, Coronado; and sisters, Jane Reynolds Meade and Barbara Reynolds Haines, Coronado.



In lieu of flowers of gifts, Nick would prefer donations to the National Resource Defense Council.