The Brothers Four

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The Brothers Four
Brothers Four at University of Michigan
Brothers Four at University of Michigan
Background information
OriginSeattle, Washington, U.S.
GenresFolk, pop
Years active1957–present
LabelsColumbia (U.S.)
Philips (UK)
Various others
MembersBob Flick
Mike McCoy
Mark Pearson
Karl Olsen[1]
Past membersMike Kirkland
Dick Foley
Bob Haworth
Tom Coe
John Paine
Terry Lauber
John Hylton[2]
WebsiteOfficial website

The Brothers Four is an American folk singing group, founded in 1957 in Seattle, Washington, and known for their 1960 hit song "Greenfields".


Bob Flick, John Paine, Mike Kirkland, and Dick Foley met at the University of Washington,[3] where they were members of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity in 1956 (hence the "Brothers" appellation). Their first professional performances were the result of a prank played on them in 1958 by a rival fraternity, who had arranged for someone to call them, pretend to be from Seattle's Colony Club, and invite them to come down to audition for a gig. Even though they were not expected at the club, they were allowed to sing a few songs and were subsequently hired. Flick recalls them being paid "mostly in beer".

They left for San Francisco in 1959, where they met Mort Lewis, Dave Brubeck's manager.[3] Lewis became their manager and later that year secured them a contract with Columbia Records.[3] Their second single, "Greenfields", released in January 1960, hit No. 2 on the pop chart,[4] sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc by the RIAA.[5] Their first album, Brothers Four, released toward the end of the year, made the top 20.[3] Other highlights of their early career included singing their fourth single, "The Green Leaves of Summer", from the John Wayne movie The Alamo, at the 1961 Academy Awards, and having their third album, BMOC/Best Music On/Off Campus, go top 10. They also recorded the title song for the Hollywood film Five Weeks in a Balloon in 1962 and the theme song for the ABC television series Hootenanny, "Hootenanny Saturday Night", in 1963. They also gave "Sloop John B" a try, released as "The John B Sails".[6]

The British Invasion and the ascendance of edgier folk rock musicians such as Bob Dylan put an end to the Brothers Four's early period of success,[3] but they kept performing and making records, doing particularly well in Japan and on the American hotel circuit.

The group, with Jerry Dennon, built a radio station in Seaside, Oregon (KSWB) in 1968.[7] The station was subsequently sold in 1972 to a group from Montana, and later to a self-proclaimed minister, and finally merged into a larger conglomerate of radio stations.

The group attempted a comeback by recording a highly commercial version of Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man", but were unable to release it due to licensing issues, and The Byrds eventually stole their thunder by releasing their heralded version.[8]

Mike Kirkland left the group in 1969 and was replaced by Mark Pearson, another University of Washington alumnus. In 1971, Pearson left and was replaced by Bob Haworth, who stayed until 1985 and was replaced by a returning Pearson. Dick Foley left the group in 1990 and was replaced by Terry Lauber. Despite all the changes and having spent 64 years in the business, the group is still active.

Mike Kirkland died of cancer on August 20, 2020, at age 82.[9]

Selected discography[edit]


  • 1960 The Brothers FourU.S. No. 11
  • 1960 Rally'Round!
  • 1961 B.M.O.C. (Best Music On/Off Campus) – US No. 4
  • 1961 Roamin' with the Brothers IV
  • 1961 The Brothers Four Song Book – US No. 71
  • 1962 The Brothers Four: In Person – Columbia 360 Sound CS-8628 - US No. 102
  • 1962 The Brothers Four Greatest Hits
  • 1963 Cross-Country Concert – US No. 81
  • 1963 The Big Folk Hits – US No. 56
  • 1964 More Big Folk Hits – US No. 134
  • 1964 Sing of Our Times
  • 1965 The Honey Wind Blows – US No. 118
  • 1965 By Special Request
  • 1966 Try to Remember – US No. 76
  • 1966 A Beatles' Songbook (The Brothers Four sing Lennon/McCartney) – US No. 97
  • 1966 Merry Christmas
  • 1967 A New World's Record
  • 1969 Let's Get Together
  • 1970 1970
  • 1996 Greenfields & Other Gold – new studio recording
  • 1996 The Tokyo Tapes - 35th Anniversary – live cd
  • 2010 Golden (50th) Anniversary – live cd
  • 2014 Beautiful World – new studio and live cd
  • 2018 The Very Best of the Brothers Four: Renewal


Year Song titles (A-side, B-side)
Both sides from same album except where indicated
Peak chart positions Album
1960 "Greenfields"
b/w "Angelique-O"
2 [4] 40 [10] 1 The Brothers Four
"My Tani"
b/w "Ellie Lou (You Left Me There in Charleston)"
50 Rally 'Round
"The Green Leaves of Summer"
b/w "Beautiful Brown Eyes"
65 10 B.M.O.C. (Best Music On/Off Campus)
1961 "Frogg"
b/w "Sweet Rosyanne" (from B.M.O.C.)
32 Roamin'
"Nobody Knows"
b/w "My Woman Left Me" (Non-album track)
Song Book
"Christmas Bells"
b/w "What Child Is This (Greensleeves)"
Non-album tracks
1962 "Blue Water Line"
b/w "Summer Days Alone" (from Song Book)
68 Rally 'Round
"Theme from 'La Fayette' (Slowly Slowly)"
b/w "Darlin' Sportin' Jenny" (Non-album track)
Greatest Hits
"This Train"
b/w "Summertime"
Non-album tracks
"Land of the Midnight Sun"
b/w "Five Weeks in a Balloon"
"25 Minutes to Go"
b/w "The Tavern Song" (from By Special Request)
Cross-Country Concert
1963 "Ringing Bells"
b/w "Welcome Home Sally"
Non-album tracks
"All for the Love of a Girl"
b/w "55 Days at Peking"
"The John B. Sails"
b/w "Four Strong Winds" (from The Brothers Four Sing of Our Times)
The Big Folk Hits
"Hootenanny Saturday Night"
b/w "Across the Sea" (from By Special Request)
89 Non-album track
1965 "Somewhere"
b/w "Turn Around"
The Honey Wind Blows
"Lazy Harry's"
b/w "Come Kiss Me Love" (from Try to Remember)
"Try to Remember"
b/w "Sakura"
91 Try to Remember
1966 "Ratman and Bobbin in the Clipper Caper"
b/w "Muleskinner" (from More Big Folk Hits)
Non-album track
"If I Fell"
b/w "Nowhere Man"
A Beatles Songbook
"The Ballad of Alvarez Kelly"
b/w "We Can Work It Out" (from A Beatles Songbook)
Non-album track
b/w "For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her" (Non-album track)
A New World's Record
"I'll Be Home for Christmas"
b/w "'Twas the Night Before Christmas"
26 Merry Christmas
1967 "And Then the Sun Goes Down"
b/w "All I Need Is You" (from A New World's Record)
Non-album track
"Walking Backwards Down the Road"
b/w "The First Time Ever"
A New World's Record
"Here Today and Gone Tomorrow"
b/w "No Sad Songs for Me"
1968 "I'm Falling Down"
b/w "Sweet Dreams, Sweet Runaway Child"
Non-album track
1970 "Going Back to Big Sur"
b/w "Here I Go Again"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About". Retrieved 2019-03-27.
  2. ^ "About". Retrieved 2019-03-27.
  3. ^ a b c d e Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 336. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
  4. ^ a b "Show 19 – Blowin' in the Wind: Pop discovers folk music. [Part 2]". Pop Chronicles. UNT Digital Library. 1969-05-25. Retrieved 2010-10-01.
  5. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. pp. 121–122. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
  6. ^ "Brothers Four". YouTube. 2009-04-26. Retrieved 2010-10-01.[dead YouTube link]
  7. ^ "Bob Haworth", Jazz Banjo Magazine (Interview), vol. 7, no. 2, Fall 2007
  8. ^ Adams, Cecil (1978-04-21). "Must you get permission to record someone else's song?". The Straight Dope. Retrieved 2010-10-01.
  9. ^ "Mike Kirkland of the Brothers Four dies at 82". The Seattle Times. September 22, 2020. Retrieved August 22, 2021.
  10. ^ Roberts, David (2006), British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.), London: Guinness World Records, p. 80, ISBN 1-904994-10-5

External links[edit]