The Limeliters

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The Limeliters
The Limeliters (1963)
The Limeliters (1963)
Background information
OriginNew York City, New York
United States
GenresFolk, roots
Years active1959–1965, 1981–present
LabelsElektra, RCA Victor, Warner Bros., Stax, Essex, GNP, Folk Era, Brass Dolphin, West Knoll, Taragon/BMG
WebsiteLimeliters official site
MembersDaniel Boling
Steve Brooks
Andy Corwin
Past membersAlex Hassilev
Darcie Deaville
Lou Gottlieb
Glenn Yarbrough
Ernie Sheldon
Red Grammer
Rick Dougherty
Bill Zorn
Mack Bailey
John David
Geoffrey Pike
Roger McGuinn
Gaylan Taylor
Don Marovich

The Limeliters are an American folk music group, formed in July 1959 by Lou Gottlieb (bass violin/bass), Alex Hassilev (banjo/baritone), and Glenn Yarbrough (guitar/tenor).[1] The group was active from 1959 until 1965, and then after a hiatus of sixteen years, Yarbrough, Hassilev, and Gottlieb reunited and began performing again as The Limeliters in reunion tours. On a regular basis a continuation of The Limeliters group is still active and performing. Gottlieb died in 1996 (age 72), Yarbrough died in 2016 (age 86), and Hassilev (born 1932), the last founding member, who had remained active in the group, retired in 2006, leaving the group to carry on without any of the original members.


Gottlieb, fresh from obtaining his PhD in musicology, was in the audience when Alex Hassilev and Glenn Yarbrough appeared on stage to sing a duet together. Gottlieb, who was then working as an arranger for The Kingston Trio, originally thought that "these two guys" could help him make some demos for the Trio.

Soon, they packed up and headed to Aspen, Colorado, to work at a club called "The Limelite,"[2] which Yarbrough and Hassilev had purchased after singing there during the previous ski season.[1] After a short period of perfecting their act, they set off for the "hungry i" in San Francisco, which at the time was the California nerve center for the mushrooming contemporary folk movement.[2] The owner had just had a group with three long names strung together and was not about to put "Yarbrough, Hassilev, and Gottlieb" up on the marquee. But the group had not yet decided on a name. They chose "The Limeliters".

Their success was immediate. Only two days after their professional debut, the group received offers from three recording companies. In early 1960 they released their first album on Elektra. Soon after they signed with RCA Victor and a string of best-selling albums followed.

Never having a true chart-topping hit record, they were well known for their repertoire of rousing songs including such as "There's a Meetin' Here Tonight," "City of New Orleans," "A Dollar Down" (their only charting single, peaking at #60 in 1961), "Have Some Madeira M'Dear", "Lonesome Traveler," "Wabash Cannonball," "Whiskey in the Jar," and many others which are performed on their more than 25 record albums and in their concerts.

The Limeliters' album Tonight: In Person reached number 5 on Billboard in 1961,[1] and was on the U.S. charts for 74 weeks. The reissue in 1961 of their earlier Elektra album made the top 40 and spent 18 weeks on the charts. Their third release, The Slightly Fabulous Limeliters, made the top ten in the same year,[1] charting for 36 weeks. Another album with staying power was one of folk songs for children of all ages, Through Children's Eyes. It remained charted for 29 weeks and peaked at #25.

The group maintained a hectic workload during their peak of popularity. In addition to the numerous recordings, they made numerous television appearances, and their personal appearances totaled more than 300 performances a year.[3] For three years, The Limeliters were the musical representatives for Coca-Cola. Their rendition of the jingle, "Things Go Better with Coke" became a national hit. The group also did commercial work for L&M cigarettes.

In 1963 they sang several songs for the film McLintock!.

The group's career nearly came to an end when they suffered a plane crash in Provo, Utah while on tour.[3]

The Limeliters break up[edit]

Yarbrough left the group in 1963.[1] Gottlieb and Hassilev continued the Limeliters but only as a recording act, recruiting former Gateway Singers tenor Ernie Sheldon[3] (r.n. Ernest Lieberman) as Yarbrough's replacement. Sheldon wrote the lyrics for what became Yarbrough's biggest solo hit, "Baby the Rain Must Fall."[1]

When the trio's RCA Victor contract expired in 1965, Gottlieb and Hassilev formally retired the act. By then Yarbrough was a successful soloist on records and in concert. Hassilev became a producer with his own recording studio and pressing plant, while Gottlieb headed the Morningstar Commune on a ranch he purchased near San Francisco.

The group re-formed briefly in 1968 to record an album for Warner Bros. Records.[3]

The Limeliters return[edit]

During the 1970s, the Limeliters embarked on a series of yearly reunion tours with Yarbrough. Stax Records released a reunion recording in 1974,[3] and in 1976 the group released two concert albums on their own Brass Dolphin Records. These were so successful that in 1981, Hassilev and Gottlieb decided to reform the group and to get back into the mainstream of entertainment. With the addition of tenor Red Grammer and John David[3] they again began performing.

After eight productive years, Grammer left the group to pursue a solo career as a children's artist. In 1990, he was replaced by another tenor, Rick Dougherty, whose wide-ranging musical background and bright stage presence brought another fresh dimension to the group.

Gottlieb's death in 1996 saw his high baritone part taken up by a former Kingston Trio member, Bill Zorn.

In 2003, Zorn and Dougherty left the group to join The Kingston Trio (until 2017) and in early 2004, tenor Mack Bailey and comedian baritone Andy Corwin joined the group.[3] In 2006, Hassilev retired and left the band. Soon afterward, Gaylan Taylor joined in 2006. In 2012, Don Marovich joined up with the Limeliters - In 2019 he joined the Kingston Trio.[citation needed]

The band is touring as recently as 2019.[4]

Glenn Yarbrough died from complications of dementia in Nashville, Tennessee on August 11, 2016, at the age of 86.[5]




  • 1960 — The Limeliters [Later re-released as Their First Historic Album]—Elektra
  • 1961 — Tonight: In Person — RCA Victor (Live)
  • 1961 — The Slightly Fabulous Limeliters — RCA Victor (Live)
  • 1962 — Sing Out! — RCA Victor
  • 1962 — Through Children's Eyes — RCA Victor (Live)
  • 1962 — Folk Matinee — RCA Victor
  • 1963 — Makin' a Joyful Noise — RCA Victor
  • 1963 — Our Men in San Francisco — RCA Victor (Live)
  • 1963 — Fourteen 14K Folk Songs — RCA Victor (Studio album)
  • 1964 — More of Everything! — RCA Victor (Studio album)
  • 1965 — Leave It to the Limeliters — RCA Victor (Studio album)
  • 1965 — Limeliters Look at Love in Depth — RCA Victor
  • 1965 — London Concert — RCA Victor (Live, recorded in 1963)
  • 1968 — Time to Gather Seeds — Warner Bros. (Studio album)
  • 1974 — Reunion - Glenn Yarbrough and The Limeliters — Stax
  • 1976 — Reunion, Vol. 1 — Brass Dolphin
  • 1976 — Reunion, Vol. 2 — Brass Dolphin
  • 1977 — Pure Gold — RCA
  • 1982 — Alive in Concert, Vol. 1 — GNP (Live)
  • 1985 — Alive in Concert, Vol. 2 — GNP (Live)
  • 1987 — Best of the Limeliters — (RCA Special Products).
  • 1987 — Harmony! — West Knoll (Live)
  • 1989 — Potpourri — West Knoll
  • 1990 — Singing for the Fun — GNP
  • 1990 — A Mighty Day! — West Knoll
  • 1991 — Joy Across the Land — West Knoll (Live)
  • 1992 — Global Carnival — West Knoll
  • 1999 — Until We Get it Right — Limeliter Productions
  • 2000 — The Complete RCA Singles Collection — Taragon/RCA/BMG
  • 2000 — The Chicago Tapes - First Set August 13, 1976 Concert — Folk Era (Live)
  • 2000 — The Chicago Tapes - Second Set August 14, 1976 Concert — Folk Era (Live)
  • 2004 — Live In Paradise — Limeliter Productions
  • 2007 — Right From the Start — (CDBaby)

Compilations and box sets[edit]

  • 1964 — Best of the Limeliters [RCA Victor] — RCA — Mix
  • 1993 — Best of the Limeliters [Essex] — Essex
  • 1996 — Two Classic Albums from the Limeliters: The Fabulous Limeliters and Sing Out!
  • 1997 — 36 All-Time Greatest Hits (3-CD Set)' — RCA/BMG
  • 2000 — Two Classic Albums from the Limeliters: Our Men in San Francisco and London Concert


  • "The Hammer Song"[2] b/w "Charlie, The Midnight Marauder"; Elektra EKSN-45-8
  • "A Dollar Down" b/w "When Twice the Moon Has Come and Gone"; RCA Victor 47-7859 (with picture sleeve)
  • "A Hundred Years Ago" b/w "Paco Peco"; RCA Victor 47-7913
  • "Red Roses and White Wine" b/w "Milk and Honey" (from the Broadway musical Milk and Honey); RCA Victor 47–7942.
    • This 45 was also commercially issued as RCA Victor Compact 33 Single 37–7942; it was a 7" vinyl record, but played at 33 rpm.
  • "Just an Honest Mistake" (from the production "Let it Ride") b/w "Jonah"; RCA Victor 47-7966
  • "I Had a Mule" b/w "The Riddle Song"; RCA Victor 47-8069
  • "Who Will Buy?" (from the Broadway musical Oliver) b/w "Funk"; RCA Victor 47-8094 (with picture sleeve)
  • "The Midnight Special" b/w "McLintock's Theme (Love In The Country)" from the U.A. Badjac Production "McLintock," RCA Victor 47-8255
  • "No Man is an Island" b/w "A Casinha Pequenina (Little House)"; RCA Victor 47-8361
  • "Rose" b/w "Seventeen Wives"; RCA Victor 47-8535
  • "A Hundred Men" b/w "Cold December (In Your Heart)"; Warner Bros.-Seven Arts Records 7177 (credited to "The Limeliters with Glenn Yarbrough")
  • "Time to Gather Seeds" b/w "The Importance of The Rose"; Warner Bros.-Seven Arts Records 7254
  • "Consider It Done" b/w "A Pound of Peaches" (Summer's Here); Morningstar MSR-1 (with picture sleeve reading "The Limeliters spring 1973; The Limeliters spring 1963")
  • "I See America" b/w "Holy Creation"; STAX Records 0185 (credited to Glenn Yarbrough)
  • "American Tour" b/w "Right From the Start"; West Knoll Records WK-1001
  • "Beautiful Fantasy" b/w "Heart Full of Love"; West Knoll Records WK-1002


  1. ^ a b c d e f Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. pp. 755/6. ISBN 1-85227-745-9.
  2. ^ a b c "Show 19 - Blowin' in the Wind: Pop discovers folk music. [Part 2] : UNT Digital Library". Pop Chronicles. 1969-05-25. Retrieved 2010-10-01.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Strong, Martin C. (2010). The Great Folk Discography Vol. 1: Pioneers and Early Legends. Edinburgh: Polygon Books. p. 172. ISBN 978-1-84697-141-9.
  4. ^ West, Cat. "The Limeliters - Classic Folk Singing Trio - Tours 8 States". AXS. Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  5. ^ Fox, Margalit (12 August 2016). "Glenn Yarbrough, Folk Singer With the Limeliters, Dies at 86". The New York Times. p. A14.

External links[edit]