With delicately strummed accompaniment and flawless harmonies, the Brothers Four perfected a mannered, populist folk style that had very little to do with Woody Guthrie's hardscrabble variety, but landed them in the commercial vanguard of the late '50s Folk Revival. Bob Flick, John Paine, Richard Foley, and Mike Kirkland--four Phi Gamma Delta frat "brothers"--began performing together at University of Washington functions in 1957 and soon became staples of a live circuit in Seattle and San Francisco. After signing to Columbia Records in 1959, their mournful single "Greenfields" hit number 2 on Billboard and cemented the commercial viability of mainstream folk in the wake of the Kingston Trio and the Weavers. While the group's success faded with the rise of '60s folk rock, they continued to perform--with some changing membership--throughout the ensuing decades.
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