The Brothers Four

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Brothers Four
The Brothers Four at University of Michigan, 1964–65
The Brothers Four at University of Michigan, 1964–65
Background information
OriginSeattle, Washington, U.S.
GenresFolk, pop
Years active1957–present
LabelsColumbia (U.S.)
Philips (U.K.)
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]

The Brothers Four is an American folk singing group formed in 1957 in Seattle, Washington, and best 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 Billboard Hot 100,[4] sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc by the RIAA.[5] Their first album, The 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 attempted a comeback by recording a highly commercialized version of Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man", but were unable to release it due to licensing issues; The Byrds eventually licensed an agreement for their own version, with their Billboard No. 1 hit released in April 1965.[7]

The group, in a business partnership with Jerry Dennon, built a radio station in Seaside, Oregon (KSWB) in 1968.[8] 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.

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. The group is still active after 66 years in the business.

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

Selected discography[edit]

The group in 1963


Year Album Billboard 200
Record Label
1960 Rally 'Round Columbia
The Brothers Four 11
1961 Roamin'
Song Book 71
BMOC: Best Music On/Off Campus 4
1962 In Person 102
1963 The Big Folk Hits 56
Cross-Country Concert 81
1964 Sing of Our Times
More Big Folk Hits 134
By Special Request
1965 Try to Remember 76
The Honey Wind Blows 118
1966 Merry Christmas
A Beatles' Songbook 97
1967 A New World's Record
1969 Let's Get Together
1970 1970 Fantasy
1973 Love
"—" denotes releases that did not chart.


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 BMOC: 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 March 27, 2019.
  2. ^ "About". Retrieved March 27, 2019.
  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. May 25, 1969. Retrieved October 1, 2010.
  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. April 26, 2009. Retrieved October 1, 2010.[dead YouTube link]
  7. ^ Adams, Cecil (April 21, 1978). "Must you get permission to record someone else's song?". The Straight Dope. Retrieved May 18, 2024.
  8. ^ "Bob Haworth", Jazz Banjo Magazine (Interview), vol. 7, no. 2, Fall 2007
  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]