Yarrow, Peter 1938-

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Yarrow, Peter 1938-


Born May 31, 1938, in New York, NY; children: Bethany.


Agent—Folklore Productions, 1671 Appian Way, Santa Monica, CA 90401-3293.


Musician, activist, producer, and author. Performer as solo folk musician, then with singing group Peter, Paul, and Mary, 1962-70, 1978—, including at Carnegie Hall, 2005. Performer on solo recordings, including That's Enough for Me, 1973; performer (with Peter, Paul, and Mary) on Peter, Paul, and Mary, 1962, Moving, 1963, In the Wind, 1963, Peter, Paul, and Mary in Concert, 1964, A Song Will Rise, 1995, See What Tomorrow Brings, 1965, Album, 1966, Album 1700, 1967, Late Again, 1968, Peter, Paul, and Mommy, 1969, Reunion, 1978, A Holiday Celebration, 1988, Lifelines, 1995, (and coproducer) In These Times and Carry It On, both 2004, and The Very Best of Peter, Paul, and Mary, 2005; performer on solo albums Love Songs, 1975, and on Joan Baez: Live at Newport, 1996, Inscriptions of Hope, 1997, and Puff, and Other Family Favorites, 2008. Organizer of March on Washington, 1969, and anti-nuclear benefit, 1978. Cofounder of Newport Folk Festival, 1962; creator of "Operation: Respect" (anti-bullying curriculum program), introduced in New York City public schools, 2006.

Awards, Honors

Allard K. Lowenstein Award, 1982, for work advancing human rights, peace, and freedom; Tikkun Olam Award, Miami Jewish Federation, 1995. (With Mary Travers and Noel Paul Stookey) five Grammy Awards, including 1963; eight gold albums, five platinum albums; Lifetime Achievement Award, Songwriters Hall of Fame, 2006.


(Author of afterword) Steve Seskin and Allen Shamblin, Don't Laugh at Me (includes CD), illustrated by Gun Dibley, Tricycle Press, 2002.

(With Leonard Lipton), Puff, the Magic Dragon (song lyrics; with CD), illustrated by Eric Puybaret, Sterling Publishers (New York, NY), 2007.

Peter Yarrow Songbook: Sleepytime Songs, illustrated by Terry Widener, Sterling Publishers (New York, NY), 2008.

Lyricist, with Mary Travers and Noel Paul Stookey, on recordings by Peter, Paul, and Mary, including No Easy Walk to Freedom, 1987.


A singer and songwriter, Peter Yarrow gained fame in the mid-twentieth century as the founder of the iconic folk-music trio Peter, Paul, and Mary. In the years since, Yarrow has combined his musical career with his work as an activist, sponsoring marches and benefit concerts and founding Operation Respect, an anti-bullying curriculum that was adopted by New York City in 2006. In 2008 Yarrow revisited a song that Peter, Paul, and Mary made famous over four decades before, adapting "Puff, the Magic Dragon" as a picture book.

Formed by Noel Paul Stookey, Mary Travers, and Yarrow, Peter, Paul, and Mary began performing in New York City's Greenwich Village in 1961. Yarrow, the last member to join the trio, had already begun a solo career and performed at the Newport Folk Festival the year before. The trio's tight harmonies and intricate guitar melodies captivated audiences and their rise to national fame and airplay was meteoric. Although their style was grounded in the folk-music movement, they also performed original tunes, including political songs, humorous ditties, children's songs such as "Puff, the Magic Dragon," and other contemporary-themed songs. They have also been credited for helping to popularize younger performers such as Bob Dylan and Gordon Lightfoot among national audiences, as well as introducing the traditional American music of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger to younger, college-aged listeners.

Featuring stylized acrylic paintings by French illustrator Eric Puybaret, Puff, the Magic Dragon transforms the song originally written by Yarrow and Leonard Lipton into what a Kirkus Reviews writer described as "a satisfying read-aloud" with equal appeal to listeners of all ages. In the story, Puff lives in a magical place called Honalee Bay, sharing his cozy lava cave with Jackie Paper until the boy grows up. Although the dragon becomes lonely, Jackie eventually returns, bringing his young daughter to play with the friendly dragon. While Marge Loch-Wouters predicted that "fans of the song will be the book's primary audience," the critic added in her School Library Journal review that Puybaret's "lush" and detailed paintings in tones of green and blue "feature sweeping panoramas" that echo the magic in Yarrow and Lipton's lyrics. In Publishers Weekly a reviewer dubbed Puff, the Magic Dragon "an impressive performance all around," citing the book's quality art and text as well as the accompanying CD recording featuring three child-friendly songs performed by Yarrow and his daughter, Bethany Yarrow. Although Booklist critic Janice Del Negro ranked the song's picture-book adaptation as "slick but appealing," in Kirkus Reviews a reviewer called the book-and-CD offering "a very nice package indeed."

In addition to performing as an accompaniment to the picture-book version of his famous song, Yarrow has also joined daughter Bethany and cellist Rufus Cappadocia to perform a new rendition of "Puff, the Magic Dragon" as part of a 2007 recording geared for children titled Puff, and Other Family Classics.

Biographical and Critical Sources


St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 2000.


Booklist, September 15, 2007, Janice Del Negro, review of Puff, the Magic Dragon, p. 70.

Goldmine, April 12, 1996, William Ruhlmann, "Peter, Paul, and Mary: A Song to Sing all over This Land," pp. 20-50.

Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2007, review of Puff, the Magic Dragon.

Publishers Weekly, December 4, 2006, Diane Roback, "Puff Comes to Life," p. 16; June 11, 2007, review of Puff, the Magic Dragon, p. 58.

School Library Journal, August, 2007, Marge Loch-Wouters, review of Puff, the Magic Dragon, p. 108.


Peter, Paul, and Mary Web site,http://www.peterpaulandmary.com/ (December 15, 2008), "Peter Yarrow."