Remembering Glenn – invitation to a virtual wake

Since Dad died last Thursday, I’ve been so touched by the outpouring of love from his friends and fans all over the world on Facebook and various message boards and news sites. Since those who loved him best are separated by such vast geography, I thought it fitting to come together and remember him through the one medium that connects us all.

Glenn’s body is being cremated later this afternoon, at 4pm CST by Chuck and Heide Crawford who have also posted a permanent obituary for him here.

Dad always wanted a Viking Funeral after seeing the movie Rocket Gibraltar in 1988…so for the past twenty-six years we’ve had a running joke about how the heck I was supposed to single-handedly drag his carcass into a dingy, trailer it to the ocean, launch it and then set it aflame with my olympic-caliber archery skills.  He got a kick out of teasing me about it, and I always threatened to roll him onto a pool float in the backyard and torch it up instead.

Well, the sad day has arrived…and unfortunately I can’t manage his epic sendoff without committing felonies in at least three states. Since we’d like to keep using the pool, I have hatched another plan…As Dad’s cremation concludes later tonight at about 8pm CST, I’m planning to have a private Toro Nagashi remembrance on the Narrows of the Harpeth river with the folks who were here with me when Dad caught the spectacular Swift-Tuttle comet express out into the Universe just before 9:30pm on August 11.

Please hold him in your heart today as his body becomes dust. His spirit will live forever through his music and our memories.  With love, (or as Dad often wrote) Peace & Love,

-Holly

p.s. I’ll post more about the disposition of his cremains, as we figure that part out. In the meantime, everyone is invited to post any memories and stories here. If you would like to be a contributor to this site, just email me, and I’ll add you as an author so you can post whatever you’d like to share.

 

49 thoughts on “Remembering Glenn – invitation to a virtual wake

  1. My wife and I have just been made aware of Glenn’s passing. As we listen to his Christmas CD; we relax in the knowledge that he is truly enjoying the peace of heaven, and entertaining angels. He was a gift that millions of us got to enjoy. Peace, Bill & Rosemary

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  2. If I might be so bold, I’d like to post the memorial I wrote and posted on my Facebook page after hearing of Glenn’s passing some two weeks after it occurred. Hopefully, it does him justice from those of us still on the other side of the veil.

    -Iain S. Walsh-

    It would be easy, and appropriate, for your humble Crypt-Keeper to note the most-recent passing of a creatively-inspired, famous, and multi-talented performer, in this case Gene Wilder (1933-2016).

    However, in this case, allow me to note and mourn a passing that occurred some two weeks ago, one that few beyond the folk-music world will recognise, but one of immense importance to this would-be scribe. (I learned of it from a friend only late yesterday. Such do we all become faded memories all-too quickly.)

    Three years earlier than Wilder’s birth – 1933 – in Milwaukee, WI, that city gave the world another multi-talented performer: Glenn Yarbrough. I became familiar with Yarbrough, and his oeuvre, as a child. In a house where folk-music was king, where before I knew who The Beatles were, I knew who Utah Phillips was, Yarbrough’s voice rang out like a church-bell.
    Dear God, what a voice. One verse, one stanza, one note from his pipes, and I was convinced I wanted to grow up and sing like he could, That it was clear early-on I would never be so lucky, by genetics, or by training, did not deter me in the slightest. Even as I switched to instruments, then to composing, secretly, I longed to serenade the very air around me with my voice. One of the many reasons my wife, Karen, and I became so close so quickly in college was that our album-collections dovetailed beautifully, and Yarbrough’s work with his most-famous group – The Limeliters – stood out prominently in her crate of vinyl.

    Later, as I began to learn more about the man from what little the press had to say, and later-still from friends “in the business” who had known him, I began to appreciate him as more than just the possessor of a golden larynx. Yarbrough’s relationship with fame & fortune was contentious at-best. As the article attached below, the quote written at the height of The Limeliters’ career, notes:

    “‘The only thing success has taught me is that success is meaningless,’ he told The Saturday Evening Post in 1961. ‘An audience is like a lynch mob. Three years ago they were walking out on me. Now that they know we’ve been on the Sullivan show, they come and cheer.’”

    As much as he loved and respected his fellow humankind, the mechanics of fame were a burden. Inspired by hearing Woody Guthrie perform, all he wanted to do, so it seemed, was sing, inspire, and make a decent enough living he could sail the world on his boat. (Even so, there was more to it than that. He gave up almost all of his fortune in the late-60’s to found a school for disadvantaged children, and the school stayed open for several years, until funding dried up. No one man’s fortune can support a school forever.)

    Years later (from that point), but long-past from the vantage-point of today, I was granted a wish I would never have thought possible – to help record something important for Mr. Yarbrough.

    In the late 90’s, Yarbrough’s daughter, Holly Yarbrough Burnett, wanted to record a special birthday-present just for her Dad. My close friend and partner, Paul Levine, was producing the recording, and they “needed a bass-player”. “Would you be interested,” Paul asked?
    To quote Yarbrough’s old Limeliter bassist, the late, great Lou Gottlieb, ‘I was ECSTATIC!”
    What transpired was one of the most-enjoyable, and smoothest-running, afternoons in a recording-studio I have ever experienced. Holly was a sweetheart to work with me (and inherited her Dad’s vocal-genes in-spades), and it mattered not in the slightest that Glenn would probably never know who I was (I was, after all, “only the bass-player” on the recording). I will forever owe her and Paul for that recording-date, and my chance to leave one, tiny gift for the idol of my vocal ear.

    Glenn is now gone, but thank the Digital Gods for the ability to save his voice for the ages. Sing well in-memoriam.

    R.I.P. Glenn Yarbrough (1930-2016).

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  3. He made a positive impact on my life with his music and persona. I was flying home last week. Listening to his music brought a calm, and a smile. I didn’t realize then that he’d just left us. His music and his life lessons will remain with us forever. Thanks for sharing your dad.

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  4. I loved his voice, and his ready smile. My favorite memory is him singing “So Long San Francisco” over the phone for me when I called to ordered cd’s, and asked why he didn’t include it in his concert. The band didn’t know the music, he explained and sang it for me. I play his music daily, and will miss him very much. Sail on, Glenn

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  5. I love his voice and was fortunate to see him twice. On my way home from work I was listening to him, when I got home my sister called me to tell me of his passing, the last song he was singing as I got out of my car was Amazing Grace! Thank you for all your posts, your Dad was certainly a loved man!

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  6. It began with an album by an unknown artist, a talk with a RCA sales rep that gave us news of a Fraternity bash in Chapel Hill soon, crashing it and seeing a blond backstage. Blond was at next show, we introduced ourselves and invited the band wives to dinner while they waited for Glenn and the band to do a concert elsewhere. Colonel Sanders was at the airport when we went to pick them up and joined in the party. Many concerts followed in many states, friendships grew. We were asked to take over the fan mail, send out photos and concert schedules but send the love letters to Glenn. This lasted until he decided to sail away. We visited in LA and when Glenn heard my girls singing Cecelia he suggested they should go to Simon and Garfunkle’s house to sing. To assure hurt feelings went away he spent the rest of the day teaching them to dive in his pool. Much later a pregnant Anne came to NC to promote concerts, we ran out of gas on the Interstate but managed to coast a half mile to an exit with a service station at the bottom of the ramp. Somehow Someway was blasting out of the radio when I applied the brake at the gas pump. Before Glenn arrived to do the shows Anne began to have gas pains which were diagnosed as labot when she arrived back home. A day or so later we were listening to Glenn sing “Let Me Choose Life” while in California a tiny baby girl was choosing to begin hers early. After weeks of phone calls and letters I flew to LA to get that baby out of the hospital. First I had to help build the nursery and make the bassinet cover and sneak into the premature nursery to make pictures of Mama and baby. The nurse assured me I had better not be in there when she came back to check in 10 minutes. When we checked her out she rode home on my lap and everyone else was afraid of her so I did the bathing, diaper changes and feeding for a few days. Glenn was quick to tell me when he thought she wasn’t breathing but was sure he would drop her. He got over it. The years went on. My family drove to Illinois to a Limeliter reunion concert and I went to see Annie Get Your Gun in Bristol, TN. The following day Glenn visited with me at my mountain house. My daughter and I attended Holly’s graduation from Bard in NY and her wedding in Florida. That may have been the last place I actually was with Glenn but he will be with me as long as I live. His music was wonderful and of course I still have it all and a tape of The Glenn Yarbrough Show but my memories are mostly of who he was, my friend Glenn.

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  7. I didn’t know your father had passed until I came home from a road trip today. Needless to say, my favourite Glenn songs are on my playlist so unwittingly, I was remembering him. You did a wonderful job of keeping all of us in touch with someone who was obviously a well loved father and definitely a great artist. Rest well Glenn and thank you Holly.

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  8. Holly,
    I am so sorry to hear of your loss. It is a loss that many of us feel, too. He had a way of making everyone feel special and his voice was without equal.
    I only got to see him in one live appearance, but have listened to him on vinyl and, later, on CD, for over 50 years and will keep and cherish all of his recordings.
    Peace be with you, and for Glenn,
    “fair winds and following seas!”
    Jim Preuss

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  9. Holly I am so sorry that you lost your dad, what a special relationship the two of you have had. As a teenager his music was a great comfort to me, as I often felt quite lonely. That went away when I listened to his albums though. What a great ride to the stars he got last week.

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  10. Holly, your dad and his music have been a significant part of all the chapters of my life since the 60s-through both the happy and sad times. In fact he played an important role in reuniting my husband and myself. We had dated in college and were both major Glenn fans. Then we went our separate ways, but each of us remained loyal fans. Many years later, after some major losses we reunited. As fate and luck would have it, your dad was performing in the area at the time. We went to his concert and the world fell back into place. We became engaged that week. Years later we had the pleasure of telling your dad in person what he had meant to us. And through the memories and his music the gift continues. We are forever grateful.

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  11. I saw him the first time with the Limelighters at the Ice House (?) in Pasadena. Then as a solo performer, I saw him at the Golden Bear in Huntington Beach. There were many, many time that I was privileged to hear his amazing voice. It seemed to vibrate straight through my heart. Many of his albums are in my possession and I will treasure them always. Thank you God for letting this amazing man pass through our lives. Bless his family, friends and fans, as we morn the loss but celebrate the man.

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  12. Holly, I am thinking of especially often. Your father’s wondrous voice on a stack of LP’s helped drag me through my husband’s year in Vietnam (1967-68) and sustained us those early married years as events quite unplanned kept us apart on two of our first three anniversaries. The glue must have worked, as we celebrated 51 years this past June. I enjoyed sending him birthday cards, thanks to your FB page. Thank you for the loving care you gave him. Yes, he and Rod are most likely planning another release as he cheers you on with the virtual wake and spectacular send-off.

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  13. I went to so many of Glenn’s concerts…with the Limeliters and the solo ones that my friends said I”m probably the oldest groupie he has!!! We’re both in the 80’s so I could be!!!! I still have great memories and many C D”s so his voice is with me. Happy sailing and singing, Glenn……….

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  14. I discovered Glens music when my oldest daughter was born. His music helped me get through the first few month when she had colic and would cry from midnight to about 6 am. She and I sat up all night sitting in the rocking chair rocking and listening to Glenn on the stereo. I fell in love with his voice then and still love to listen to his music. In fact I informed the daughter mentioned above that I want them to play Glenn’s CD Divine Love at my memorial service when the time comes. His beautiful voice will be missed by all of us, his fans. Sending prayers to you and the family. Thank you Glenn for the memories

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  15. I have listened to Glenn’s music since the mid 60’s. Also so mellow. I had the honor of seeing him twice in my life and receiving a hug from him on one occasion. Truly a voice and man to remember.
    Thank you for sharing him with all of us, Holly.

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  16. Holly, I saw Glenn perform with the Limeliters and the Kingston Trio in the 1980’s. Some 30 years later, through your intercession, Glenn signed his first Limeliters album for me. A kind act which I appreciate along with your Facebook posts over his last years. Glenn was a man who lived his beliefs and shared his musical talent with the world. He will be missed but his memory will live on in the hearts of the people he touched along his journey through life. My thoughts are with you and your family.

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  17. Glenn was so loved in the Northwest. I saw him several times at the Seattle Opera House and then later at the Tacoma Pantages Theatre and then at the Auburn, WA Performing Arts Center. He always laughed about Auburn where he was performing the Forgotten Christmas Carols. The auto bringing him from the airport broke down and he had to run a number of blocks in the pouring rain to the facility. He first apologized to the audience, changed into a dry outfit, and gave his traditional outstanding performance. At the Seattle Opera House he tried a new song and began to sing while the band played another new song. Somehow the mis-match sounded great to the audience, but Glenn put a stop to it half way through. He was never bothered by a miscue or mistake here and there -and that’s why the audience felt so close to him. He was never arrogant and was always humble. Thanks for all of the great songs, Glenn!

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  18. My story is about a friend of mine who was stationed at a Naval base in Virginia in 1989 when he was walking through a park one Sunday and saw a small group gathered around a jovial fellow singing “Baby,The Rain Must Fall”. He thought the gentleman sounded a lot like Glenn Yarbrough. When he got closer, he saw it was him.

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  19. I remember your dad from my days of summer on old cape cod. We drank & sang our way through the summer of the 60’s. I think we shared a night or 2 on someone’s couch who we didn’t know but back in those days it didn’t matter. I still listen to his music and love the sound of his voice. That’s the wounderful thing about a memory. People never change or grow old. They are always as we last saw them. Bless you all and my memories of 1/2 a century ago are as real and vived as if they were only yesterday

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  20. My husband was a follower of Glenn Yarborough since Glenn cut his first album and my husband introduced me to him. We have probably every album he ever cut and saw him at the Playboy Clubs when we could. I am shocked and saddened to hear of his death, although we knew it was closing in on him. My sincerest condolences to his family. He will live on in my heart and mind. He was well loved in the music business. God Bless those he left behind and I will pray that The Holy Spirit will comfort all of you.

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  21. my heart goes out to you and your family during this difficult time. grew up with his music and always loved it. Prayers for you as you go through this year of firsts

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  22. Dear Holly and family.
    Your Dad’s presence in this world has added the love and beauty of a life well lived, and to this day and many more through his music, he will and has left love and peace with us all.
    Thank you Glenn, though I feel the loss like many of us do, you have created a beautiful legacy in those who are still on this side.
    God’s Speed, sail on Sailor!

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  23. Thank you Holly for this wonderful tribute to your dad. His friendship and music will always have a special place in my heart and life.

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  24. Wow, writing about Glenn Yarbrough, an man who has made an everlasting impression on my life is so surreal. I first heard Glenn when he was singing with the Limelighters. I have attended his concerts in California and even in at the College of Idaho in Caldwell. His voice was so pure, it was without equal. He was always willing to talk after his concert and when he spoke to me about sailing his boats, his eyes sparkled. He met a great deal to my wife and I because we were dating and in the early years of out marriage when we attended his concerts. He made Rod McKuen’s lyrics come alive and allowed them to speak directly to me. He was truly a great entertainer and a good man. He will certainly be missed, but his music will live on,

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  25. I saw Glenn one afternoon at a Safeway store on So. Colorado Blvd. here in Denver Co. He was whistling while he shopped. I looked at him and smiled and he smiled back. It was like he said “hi pal.” I didn’t speak to him because I didn’t want to bother him but our smiles spoke for themselves. We were “pals” since them. I will miss him and we are richer because he was with us but poorer now that he’s gone

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  26. In the early 90’s Glenn spent a lot of time in the San Juan Islands on his boat. i worked at a San Juan Marina at the time and had an office near the shop. One day, sitting at my office, i heard a voice, that voice! I know that voice. i came out of my office to see Glenn at the parts counter getting parts for his outboard motor. The parts guy and i were the only ones old enough to know who he was but we were like kids meeting Elvis, so excited. Glenn soon after did a show at our community theater.
    Today i am the one cruising the world on my boat, now in the Philippines, still loving folk music and still love Glenn Yarbrough. He may have left us but his music and memory live on. It is raining today, i am singing Baby the rain must fall.

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  27. Glen was important to me from his days on the radio in Rapid City in the early 50’s when he talked about his life and father who taught him songs. His personality came through the radio. We drove late at night while on leave from the air force during the mid 50’s and it was easy to tune the band and hear his very distinctive tenor voice on the AM radio stations. I purchased many records and sent a fan letter in the 60’s. To my surprise I received a hand written reply on yellow tablet paper mentioning his love for sailing. I was able to see and hear him in Elmira, NY maybe in the 80’s on tour. He was not feeling well and I missed the opportunity to shake his hand. For those that loved his voice, his voice was a wonderful gift from God .

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  28. Glenn’s music has given me joy for the vast majority of my life (I’m 63). It will continue to do so; such is the beauty of recording. Godspeed on your journey, Glenn; I will hold you in my heart and in my mind. (You too, Holly.)

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  29. I meet your Dad when attending college at Chico State in 1970.. He wouldn’t give me an autograph but invited this 20 yr old girl to dinner after the show. 40 years later I booked him to do a show in Brookings, Oregon (Christmas show) ..told him the story & he gave me all the cd’s he ever recorded. Had him back for 4 years.. He even looked at property on the coast. I was happy to hear he has been with you these last few years…been playing his music, especially your cd with your dad…I love his “picture” inside the cover of the two of you walking away, hand & hand butt naked!

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  30. Saw Glenn in concert twice and bought all of his albums. I loved his voice, his depth of spirit and mostly his character and demeanor. I am sure that Glenn and Rod are already working on a new album. He shall be always remembered and missed.

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  31. Love his music. Play records, cds and dad’s all the time. He will be missed by so many of us who followed his career from the beginning as well as newbies who learned later on how meaningful the music is. It will go on through many more generations. Our 8 year old grands loves it.

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  32. Your father was a very important part of the music I loved when I was a young woman. His voice has a wonderful, memorable melodious quality that added whole new dimensions to a song. I have been a life-long fan and am very sad to learn of his passing. I am sure he will have his Viking funeral in your heart.

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  33. A wonderful man who will be missed. I still have my albums from the 60’s and listen to them. A beautiful voice the world was lucky to hear. God Bless him and his family.

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  34. Dear Holly:
    I saw you and your dad at our little Hickory Wythe Baptist Church about 15 years ago. It was such a privilege to see him and talk to him. He was watching me and when I finally got to shake my hand, he told me how much he liked my sweater coat. He was such a warm and personable man. He carried his Christianity and kindness on his sleeve. I told him how when I was 13 or so I heard the Folger’s coffee commercial he did and I was hooked ever since. We had a good conversation. I loved him. His voice was a wonderful God-given talent.
    Charity Knudson

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  35. saw him MANY years ago, at a concert in Ames, Iowa. LOVED him then and still do today>>he sang “Baby, the Rain Must Fall” and I darn near cried==it was beautiful!! Blessed be to his family

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  36. Listening to “The Lonely Things,” especially Channing Way was a great inspiration for me in the early 70’s…no one did McKuen music the way Glenn sang it…was as if those words were being created on the spot…never felt there was a rehearsal or anything but raw humanity…your Father made a lasting contribution to the world…he will be missed and always revered but his music is eternal and so he is eternal in our hearts…

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  37. This is funny when Glenn was in Ensenada, i us to be a Boy Scout, i was then an expert at Archery and Slingshot, Glenn would say when i may past to my other journey i would love it for you to set flame to my drifting dingy in to the Ocean.
    May he finally lift his sails on the endless ocean.

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  38. Back in the early 1960s my oldest brother Jim introduced me to the music of the Limeliters. Listening to Glenn’s soaring tenor in songs like “Molly Malone” had me hooked in no time. Every song on his “Baby the Rain Must Fall” album had special meaning and I still listen to them to bring back those memories.
    As each of my three sons (separately, not all in the same year) got out of my car to walk over to the Army departure point to begin basic training, “Walk On Little Boy” filled my mind and helped the tears begin to flow as soon as they were out of sight, a necessary release.
    Right at the start of 2012, suddenly and shockingly finding myself a widow a week after our 25th anniversary, music saved my sanity over the next few years. Holly, your father’s “Far Side of the Hill” became a beautiful light in the darkness of those years.
    Thank you so much for sharing him, and allowing us to express our love and sorrow in this good company.

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  39. Holly, We worked together at TP&A (now another name), but your Dad was a part of my life before you were a twinkle in his eye. His music walked me through many tough times and supported me when I so needed being supported. I will always remember how his voice and his music impacted my life. Hugs, love and prayers, Linda Klinefelter

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