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Peter, Paul and Mary Bassist Dick Kniss Dies

Kniss also helped write John Denver’s hit ‘Sunshine on My Shoulders’

January 29, 2012 2:45 PM ET
Peter, Paul and Mary
Peter, Paul and Mary
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Dick Kniss, the bass player for Peter, Paul and Mary, died on Wednesday of pulmonary disease in Kingston, NY. He was 74. 

Kniss had joined Peter, Paul and Mary in 1968, after playing jazz with Woody Herman’s band. His upright bass lines provided a distinctive backbone to the trio’s vocal harmonies throughout the group’s decades together.

"He had this capacity to weave countermelodies," Peter, Paul and Mary’s Noel Paul Stookey recently told the New York Times. "He was the master of when to answer. In folk music, we’re telling a story. The guitars would begin it, but Dick was an orchestrator, and his entry often signified a particular turning point in a song."

Kniss later became a member of John Denver’s band in the 1970s, during the period that Peter, Paul and Mary had temporarily disbanded. He co-wrote Denver’s hit "Sunshine on My Shoulders."

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