Glenn Yarbrough (January 12, 1930 - August 11, 2016) was a highly acclaimed folk singer and guitarist with distinctive crystal clear tenor vocals who first became famous during the early 1960s as the lead singer of The Limeliters. As a solo artist, he is best known for the 1965 smash, "Baby The Rain Must Fall," the title song to the movie starring Lee Remick, Steve McQueen, and Don Murray.
Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Yarbrough first sang professionally as a child with the Choir of Men and Boys at Grace Church in Manhattan to help support his family during the Depression. While in college, he began singing folk music and taught himself to play the guitar after attending a Woody Guthrie concert. After serving in Korea, he returned home and launched his career performing on the coffeehouse circuit as well as several local TV stations in the Midwest, and with fellow folk singer Alex Hassilev, he became a co-owner of a club in Aspen, Colorado called the Limelite. In 1959, Yarbrough formed The Limeliters with Hassilev and Lou Gottlieb and served as the group's lead singer and guitarist. They released their eponymous debut album the following year on Elektra before signing with RCA Victor where they recorded a long string of top selling albums, made numerous TV appearances, and became hugely popular amid the folk revival of the early 1960s. The Limeliters also became widely known at that time for their catchy rendition of the Coca-Cola jingle, "things go better with Coke." Yarbrough left the group in 1963 at the height of its fame and soon after resumed his solo career.
Glenn Yarbrough debuted on the charts in 1965 with "Baby The Rain Must Fall," a folk-pop ballad co-written by Elmer Bernstein, who composed the soundtrack to the film of the same name, and Ernie Sheldon, Yarbrough's replacement as lead singer of The Limeliters. This smash, which reached #2 on the Adult Contemporary chart and #12 on the Billboard Hot 100, was followed later that year by "It's Gonna Be Fine." Yarbrough's final charting song came in 1967 with "Honey And Wine," a minor hit on Cash Box.
During the mid 1960s, Glenn Yarbrough collaborated with Rod McKuen and they released "The Lonely Things," "Glenn Yarbrough Sings The Rod McKuen Songbook," and several other albums. Beginning in the early 1970s, The Limeliters embarked on a series of yearly reunion tours with Yarbrough before reforming on a more permanent basis in 1981. Yarbrough continued to perform and record actively through the 2000s until he lost his voice at age 80. Over his lifetime, he was also an accomplished sailor who embarked on many extended voyages around the world.
- For more info about Glenn Yarbrough's life and career, visit glennyarbroughsinger.com.
- For more info about Yarbrough and The Limeliters, visit limeliters.net and limeliters.com.
- The New York Times remembers Glenn Yarbrough.
- For additional resources, see FolkLib Index for Glenn Yarbrough.
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