The New Christy Minstrels

Founded by musician and singer-songwriter Randy Sparks, large folk ensemble The New Christy Minstrels was formed in 1961. Best known for a string of hit singles – including “This Land Is Your Land” (1962), “Green, Green” (1963), and “Today” (1964) – the formation of the group was inspired by the burgeoning folk music scene in the US. Blending the acoustic-based sound of groups like The Kingston Trio with the popularity of choral groups like the Ray Conniff Singers and the Norman Luboff Choir, The New Christy Minstrels had a distinct sound that would inspire other large folk formations including the Doodletown Pipers. Originally a 14-voice ensemble, several group members left before the recording of the group’s debut album Presenting the New Christy Minstrels (1962), which featured a 10-member line-up. They came to prominence when they began to make regular appearances on the popular television variety series The Andy Williams Show. Throughout their career, the group would feature many future rock and folk singers including Barry McGuire (“Eve of Destruction”), Larry Ramos (The Association), Gene Clark (The Byrds), Kim Carnes, and Kenny Rogers. Under Sparks’ supervision, the group achieved success with several hit singles, including “Green, Green,” which went on to sell over a million copies. The song was lifted from their best-selling album Ramblin’ (1963). One of the most successful folk acts in the US, The New Christy Minstrels constantly toured, made television appearances, and released hit albums and singles. However, Randy Sparks’ interest in the band began to wane as he focused on his club, Ledbetter's, and a new folk project called The Back Porch Majority and he sold his interest in the band in the summer of 1964. Without the musical direction of Sparks, the group’s sound began to change while the folk music scene became less popular after the arrival of The Beatles. Albums like Chim Chim Cher-ee (1965), New Kick! (1966), and Big Hits from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) sold reasonably well, but by the end of the decade, the folk music scene was a thing of the past. Issues between group members and their management led to the entire band being fired in 1972 and replaced with a new line-up. Many decades after he initially sold off his rights to the group, Randy Sparks regained control of the group and continued to keep their memory alive nearly 60 years after their formation. He died on February 11th, 2024, at the age of 90.

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Stations Featuring The New Christy Minstrels

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