Glenn Robertson Yarbrough (January 12, 1930 – August 11, 2016) was an American folk singer and guitarist. He was the lead singer (tenor) with the Limeliters from 1959 to 1963. He also had a prolific solo career, recording on various labels.
Yarbrough was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Bruce Yarbrough and Elizabeth Yarbrough (née Robertson). He grew up in New York City where he lived with his mother. After graduating from high school at St. Paul’s School in Maryland, he attended St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland; there he roomed with Jac Holzman and began performing after he and Holzman attended a concert by Woody Guthrie.
During the Korean War he served in the United States Army, first as a codebreaker then joined the entertainment corps performing in Korea and Japan. After military service, he moved to South Dakota, helped his father organize square dances, and started appearing on local television shows. By the mid-1950s, he started performing in clubs in Chicago, where he met club owner Albert Grossman and performers including Odetta and Shel Silverstein. One of Elektra Records’ first artists, he was one of the first singers to record the traditional “The House of the Rising Sun.”
In the late 1950s, Yarbrough moved to Aspen, Colorado, and ran a club, the Limelite. There he formed a folk group with Alex Hassilev and Louis Gottlieb, naming it after the club.
The group’s first album, Limeliters, was released in 1960 on Holzman’s Elektra label. Yarbrough’s lyric tenor voice was well-regarded. Yarbrough left the Limeliters for a solo career in the mid-1960s. His most popular single, and the one for which he is most well-known today is “Baby the Rain Must Fall” (the theme tune from the film of the same name), which entered the Cashbox chart on March 27, 1965 and reached #12 pop and #2 easy listening. According to Chartmasters of Covington, Louisiana, the song was one of the all-time top 100 of the year.
Yarbrough provided vocals for the Rankin/Bass Productions animated versions of The Hobbit (1977) singing songs such as “The Greatest Adventure”, “The Road Goes Ever On” as well as The Return of the King (1980) singing “Frodo of the Nine Fingers” in addition to singing the title song in the 1966 holiday classic, The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t. Yarbrough also performed Utah Composer Michael McLean’s Forgotten Carols, creating a CD of the show as well as taking it on the road to local audiences in the 1990s.
There were several Limeliters reunion albums and tours, billed as Glenn Yarbrough and the Limeliters, from the early 1970s into the 1990s.
In 2016 (posthumously), the song “Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven” was sampled for a song by Ice Cube, which can be heard in a trailer for the video game Mafia III.
Glenn Yarbrough was also an accomplished sailor who owned and lived aboard three different sailboats: Armorel, all teak and still in operation; Jubilee, which Yarbrough helped build, taking three years; and the Brass Dolphin a Chinese junk design, and has, according to Yarbrough, sailed around the world except for the Indian Ocean.
Yarbrough lost his ability to sing due to complications from throat surgery at the age of 80. In his last year or so of life, he suffered from dementia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other health problems, and was cared for by his daughter Holly in Nashville, Tennessee. Holly recorded the album Annie Get Your Gun with her father in 1997.
Yarbrough died from complications of dementia in Nashville, Tennessee at the age of 86. (by wikipedia)
Billboard, July 11, 1964
For his second RCA Victor long-player, former Limeliter Glenn Yarbrough is accompanied by conductor/arranger Perry Botkin Jr. on a dozen sides following closely in the style of his previous outing, Time to Move On (1963). Again, the vocalist lends his distinct tenor to a variety of selections — including a trio of Rod McKuen offerings and another three co-penned by Bob Gibson. Interestingly, the Gibson cuts are among the strong originals to be featured on his landmark Where I’m Bound (1964) album. There is an effervescence in Yarbrough’s lilting vibrato, whether featured in the gentle heartwarming lullaby “I Wonder,” the spirited Gibson/Shel Silverstein-written “Baby, I’m Gone Again,” or the good-time gospel “New ‘Frankie and Johnnie’ Song.” Both are augmented by some exceptional piano runs from an uncredited but aurally evident Floyd Cramer, who was not only a concurrent recording session contributor for RCA Victor, but a well-known performer in his own right.
The title track — which should not be confused with the Kingston Trio song of the same name — is an upbeat and inspirational number, reinforcing the optimism in Yarbrough’s interpretive voice. The McKuen pieces are uniformly exceptional, revealing that a real connection existing between the composer and artist. Botkin’s light and affective score suits “Love’s Been Good to Me,” although it is the intimacy infused into “The Lovers” that is unquestionably a harbinger of Yarbrough and McKuen’s future collaborations, not to mention the unquestionable highlight of this collection. The closing “Cloudy Summer Afternoon” is a reworking of the Bud Dashiell and Travis Edmonson (aka Bud & Travis) tune, aptly capping off the LP and reconfirming Yarbrough’s link to more traditional folk and the late-’50s/early-’60s revival that brought the genre to new levels of popularity. (by Lindsay Planer)
Glenn Yarbrough (vocals, piano, guitar)
01. The Way The World Would Be (Eisenhauer/Wagner) 2.14
02. I Wonder (Lane/Sarnoff) 2.47
03. Baby, I’m Gone Again (Gibson/Silverstein) 2.38
04. Ten O’Clock, All Is Well (The Town Crier’s Song) (Gibson/Camp) 2.38
05. Love’s Been Good To Me (McKuen) 3.04
06. Her Lover (Russell) 3.16
07. One More Round (Podell/Schorr) 2.50
08. The New “Frankie And Johnnie” Song (Gibson/Silverstein) 2.05
09. Isle In The Water (McKuen) 3.01
10. Rain Drops (Settle) 1.54
11. The Lovers (McKuen) 5.12
12. Cloudy Summer Afternoon (Edmonson) 2.22
Glenn Robertson Yarbrough (January 12, 1930 – August 11, 2016)