Peter, Paul and Mary was an American folk group formed in New York City in 1961, during the American folk music revival phenomenon. The trio was composed of tenor Peter Yarrow, baritone Noel Paul Stookey and contralto Mary Travers. The group's repertoire included songs written by Yarrow and Stookey, early songs by Bob Dylan as well as covers of other folk musicians. After the death of Travers in 2009, Yarrow and Stookey continued to perform as a duo under their individual names.
Mary Travers said she was influenced by Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and the Weavers. In the documentary Peter, Paul & Mary: Carry It On — A Musical Legacy, members of the Weavers discuss how Peter, Paul and Mary took over the torch of the social commentary of folk music in the 1960s.
The group was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999. Peter, Paul and Mary received the Sammy Cahn Lifetime Achievement Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2006.
The group recorded their debut album, Peter, Paul and Mary, and it was released by Warner Bros. the following year. It included "Lemon Tree", "500 Miles", and the Pete Seeger hit tunes "If I Had a Hammer" (subtitled "The Hammer Song") and "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?". The album was listed in the Billboard Magazine Top Ten for 10 months, including seven weeks in the No. 1 position. It remained a main catalog-seller for decades to come, eventually selling over two million copies, earning double platinum certification from the RIAA in the United States alone.
In 1963 the group released "Puff, the Magic Dragon", with music by Yarrow and words based on a poem that had been written by a fellow student at Cornell, Leonard Lipton. Despite rumors that the song refers to drugs, it is actually about the lost innocence of childhood. That same year, they appeared as the "mystery guest" on the CBS TV game show What's My Line?. Dorothy Kilgallen correctly guessed their identity.
That year the group performed "If I Had a Hammer" and "Blowin' in the Wind" at the August 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, best remembered for Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. The Bob Dylan song "Blowin' in the Wind" was one of their biggest hit singles. They also sang other Dylan songs, such as "The Times They Are a-Changin'"; "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," and "When the Ship Comes In." Their success with Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" helped Dylan's The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan album rise into the top 30; it had been released four months earlier.
In December 1969 "Leaving on a Jet Plane", written by the group's friend John Denver, became their only No. 1 single (as well as their final top 40 pop hit) and the group's sixth million-selling gold single. The track first appeared on their million-selling platinum certified Album 1700 in 1967 (which also contained their No. 9 hit "I Dig Rock and Roll Music"). Following Minnesota Sen. Eugene McCarthy's strong showing in the 1968 New Hampshire Primary, the group recorded "Eugene McCarthy For President (If You Love Your Country)" endorsing McCarthy, which was released without a record label. "Day Is Done", a No. 21 hit in June 1969 from the trio's Grammy Award-winning Peter, Paul and Mommy album, was the last Hot 100 hit that the trio recorded.
The trio performing at the 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C.