Albert Grossman opened a club in the basement of the Rice Hotel in New York City in the late fifties and attracted folk singers. He also began managing some of the acts that appeared in the club, including Joan Baez.
In 1961 he decided to create a folk-singing group and ran auditions to choose three singers for the group. He selected Peter Yarrow, Paul Stookey, and Mary Travers and had them practice singing together in Boston and Miami before having them open in his club. Thanks no doubt to the resurgence of folk music, several record companies were pursuing the group. Albert managed to sign them to Warner Brothers after negotiating a contract that gave the group complete creative control over their music.
The trio recorded their first album in 1961 and when it was released in 1962 it spawned two hit singles and eventually sold over two million copies. The group was billed as Peter, Paul and Mary (without the Oxford comma) and that was the name of the album.
Albert signed contracts to manage Bob Dylan in 1962, and subsequently encouraged Peter, Paul, and Mary to record several of his songs. They also covered songs written by Pete Seeger and constantly recorded traditional folk songs and had a half-dozen top ten records during their career.
Peter and Paul both played guitar and also wrote songs. Paul co-wrote I Dig Rock And Roll Music which was a top ten single for the group in 1967. Paul also wrote The Wedding Song (There is Love) for Peter’s wedding.
Peter wrote Day Is Done, an anti-war protest song they released in 1969. The single reached #21 on the Hot 100 and #7 on the Adult Contemporary chart. Perhaps the most lasting version of the song was their performance on the Smothers Brothers Show; they some help singing from the Brothers, Jennifer Warnes, Donovan, and pretty much the entire audience.
While the sales of that single may have been a disappointment, they more than made up for it with their next single later that year. Their cover of John Denver’s Leaving On A Jet Plane reached the top of the charts. Sadly, the group broke up in 1970, so that was their last visit to the Hot 100.
The three members of the group pursued solo careers and each released their own album in 1971 or 1972. They sang together a few times before reuniting on a more permanent basis in 1981. They toured extensively as a group until Mary was sidelined by leukemia in 2007 (she died in 2009),