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The Limeliters are a folk music group formed in July 1959 by Lou Gottlieb (bass), Alex Hassilev (baritone), and Glenn Yarbrough (tenor).  The group was active from 1959 until 1965, when they disbanded.  After a hiatus of sixteen years Yarbrough, Hassilev, and Gottlieb reunited and began performing as The Limeliters again.  The Limeliters are still active and performing, but Hassilev, the last founding member active in the group, has retired, leaving the group to carry on without any of the original members.

The group's origins

Gottlieb, fresh from obtaining his Ph.D 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, Coloradomarker, to work at a club called "The Limelite," which Yarbrough and Hassilev had purchased after singing there during the previous ski season. After a short period of perfecting their act, they set off for the "hungry imarker" in San Franciscomarker, which at the time was the California nerve center for the mushrooming contemporary folk movement. The owner had just had a group with three long names strung together and wasn't 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 1959 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 are well known for their repertoire of rousing songs including such as "There's a Meetin' Here Tonight," "City of New Orleans," "A Dollar Down," "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 in the U.S. charts in 1961. Their second album made the top 40, and their third release, The Slightly Fabulous Limeliters, made the top ten in the same year. But their one album with the longest staying power is undoubtedly their album of folk songs for children of all ages, Through Children's Eyes.

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 Limeliters break up

Yarbrough left the group in 1963. Gottlieb and Hassilev continued the Limeliters but only as a recording act, recruiting former Gateway Singers tenor Ernie Sheldon (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."

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 Franciscomarker.

The Limeliters return

During the 1970s, the Limeliters embarked on a series of yearly reunion tours with Yarbrough. 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 they once again began entertaining audiences with the unique sound that made them famous.

After eight very 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 was a great loss for the group, but his high baritone part was taken up by a former Kingston Trio member, Bill Zorn.

In 2003, Zorn and Dougherty left the group and in early 2004, tenor Mack Bailey and comedian baritone Andy Corwin joined the group. In 2006, Hassilev retired and left the band. Soon afterword, Gaylan Taylor joined in 2006.



  • 1960 — Limeliters [Later re-released as Their First Historic Album] Elektra Studio
  • 1961 — Slightly Fabulous Limeliters — RCA (Live)
  • 1960 — Tonight: In Person — RCA (Live)
  • 1962 — Folk Matinee — RCA
  • 1962 — Sing Out! — RCA
  • 1962 — Through Children's Eyes — RCA (Live)
  • 1963 — Our Men in San Francisco — RCA (Live)
  • 1963 — Fourteen 14K Folk Songs — RCA (Studio album)
  • 1963 — Makin' a Joyful Noise — RCA
  • 1964 — Leave It to the Limeliters — RCA (Studio album)
  • 1964 — More of Everything! — RCA (Studio album)
  • 1965 — Limeliters Look at Love in Depth — RCA
  • 1965 — London Concert — RCA (Live)
  • 1968 — Original 'Those Were the Days' (Re-Issue of Folk Matinee) — RCA
  • 1968 — Time to Gather Seeds — Warner Brothers
  • 1974 — Reunion - Glenn Yarbrough and The Limeliters — Stax
  • 1976 — Reunion, Vol. 1 — Brass Dolphin
  • 1976 — Reunion, Vol. 2 — Brass Dolphin
  • 1977 — Pure Gold — RCA
  • 1987 — Best of the Limeliters — (RCA Special Products).
  • 1986 — Alive in Concert, Vol. 2 — GNP (Live)
  • 1987 — Harmony! — Folk Era (Live)
  • 1988 — Alive in Concert, Vol. 1 — GNP (Live)
  • 1989 — Potpourri — West Knoll
  • 1990 — Singing for the Fun — GNP (Live)
  • 1990 — A Mighty Day! — West Knoll
  • 1991 — Joy Across the Land — West Knoll (Live)
  • 1992 — Global Carnival — West Knoll
  • 1996 — Two Classic Albums from the Limeliters: The Fabulous Limeliters and Sing Out!
  • 1999 — Until We Get it Right — Limeliter Productions
  • 2000 — The Complete RCA Singles Collection — Taragon/BMG
  • 2000 — Two Classic Albums from the Limeliters: Our Men in San Francisco and London
  • 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, Box Sets

  • 1964 — Best of the Limeliters [RCA] — RCA — Mix
  • 1993 — Best of the Limeliters [Essex] — Essex
  • 1997 — 36 All-Time Greatest Hits (3 CD Set)' — BMG


  • "The Hammer Song" 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 musicalmarker 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


External links

See also

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