Obit: Dick Kniss RIP (1937-2012)
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Obit: Dick Kniss RIP (1937-2012)


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GUEST,Mary Katherine 25 Jan 12 - 02:45 PM
Cool Beans 25 Jan 12 - 03:04 PM
Dave Swan 25 Jan 12 - 06:20 PM
GUEST,Wesley S 25 Jan 12 - 07:37 PM
GUEST,Andrea Hendrix 26 Jan 12 - 08:49 AM
GUEST,flatw00d 27 Jan 12 - 06:50 AM
Joe Offer 16 Aug 13 - 03:02 PM
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Subject: Obit: Dick Kniss RIP January 25, 2012
From: GUEST,Mary Katherine
Date: 25 Jan 12 - 02:45 PM

A sad loss this morning with the passing of Dick Kniss, who in addition to being Peter Paul & Mary's bass player for the best part of their career was also the road bassist for John Denver during the decade when PP&M were on hiatus. Dick was one of the nicest people you would EVER want to meet. Condolences to his wife Diane and family.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Dick Kniss RIP January 25, 2012
From: Cool Beans
Date: 25 Jan 12 - 03:04 PM

Very sad. Enjoyed his performances many times. I made sure to get his name into my reviews of PP&M.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Dick Kniss RIP January 25, 2012
From: Dave Swan
Date: 25 Jan 12 - 06:20 PM

I enjoyed his playing very much.

Here he pretty well carries the whole tune for PP&M. Don't go Down to the Quarry

Thanks for the music, Mr Kniss.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Dick Kniss RIP January 25, 2012
From: GUEST,Wesley S
Date: 25 Jan 12 - 07:37 PM

He'll be missed. Never flashy - he always served the song.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Dick Kniss RIP January 25, 2012
From: GUEST,Andrea Hendrix
Date: 26 Jan 12 - 08:49 AM

Dick was a wonderful musician and a super guy. I enjoyed knowing him and sorry he left us too soon.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Dick Kniss RIP January 25, 2012
From: GUEST,flatw00d
Date: 27 Jan 12 - 06:50 AM

Always enjoy remembering how I drove the getaway car/VW bug in Norfolk @66 to elude a groupie....wonderful blend for any ensemble.You are missed.Pick a tune w/Mary & John for us!

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Subject: RE: Obit: Dick Kniss RIP January 25, 2012
From: Joe Offer
Date: 16 Aug 13 - 03:02 PM

Here's the Associated Press obituary, dated January 27, 2012

Peter, Paul & Mary Bassist Dick Kniss Dies

Dick Kniss, a bassist who performed for five decades with the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary and co-wrote the John Denver hit "Sunshine on My Shoulders," has died. He was 74.

Kniss died Wednesday of pulmonary disease at a hospital near their home in the Hudson Valley town of Saugerties, said his wife, Diane Kniss.

Kniss was born in Portland, Ore., and was an original member of Denver's 1970s band. He also played with jazz greats including Herbie Hancock and Woody Herman.

Active in the 1960s civil rights movement, Kniss performed at benefits for a range of causes and played during the first celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday as a national holiday.

Peter, Paul and Mary's Peter Yarrow said in a statement that Kniss was "our intrepid bass player for almost as long as we performed together.

"He was a dear and beloved part of our closest family circle and his bass playing was always a great fourth voice in our music as well as, conceptually, an original and delightfully surprising new statement added to our vocal arrangements," Yarrow said.

Visiting hours are set for 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday at the Seamon-Wilsey Funeral Home in Saugerties, with a service at 2 p.m.

And the obituary from the New York Times

Dick Kniss, a Bassist for Peter, Paul and Mary, Dies at 74

Published: January 28, 2012

Dick Kniss, a self-taught musician who for more than 40 years played stand-up bass behind Peter, Paul and Mary, becoming a veritable fourth member of the folk-singing trio, died on Wednesday in Kingston, N.Y. He was 74.

The cause was chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, said his wife, Diane. He lived in Saugerties, N.Y.

Mr. Kniss (as in knish, the k is not silent) also had an eight-year association with the singer-songwriter John Denver and helped write one of his biggest hits, "Sunshine on My Shoulders."

A sideman in jazz bands early in his career, Mr. Kniss was hired by Peter Yarrow, Noel Paul Stookey and Mary Travers to be their bass player in 1964, not long after they recorded their early hits "Puff the Magic Dragon" and Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind." He accompanied them throughout the 1960s as they became, with their sweet harmonies, earnest activism and flower-power message, one of the decade's signature musical groups.

Peter, Paul and Mary broke up as the decade ended, and Mr. Kniss went to work with Denver, another popular, sweet-tempered folk-singing activist. But when the trio reunited in 1978, Mr. Kniss once again became their bassist and appeared with them until Ms. Travers's death in 2009. He made his final appearance with Mr. Yarrow and Mr. Stookey in December that year.

Mr. Kniss was as much an improvisationalist as he was a timekeeper. "Basically he was a jazz bassist who didn't think in terms of the pop point of view," Mr. Yarrow said in a telephone interview on Friday, "and he really would develop melodic lines to complement our voices."

In a separate interview, Mr. Stookey said Mr. Kniss was not an ideal studio player because he found repeating riffs or phrases laborious; onstage, however, he said, Mr. Kniss was inventive, especially when a singer was soloing. "He had this capacity to weave countermelodies," Mr. Stookey said. "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."

Richard Lawrence Kniss was born in Portland, Ore., on April 24, 1937. His father left the family when he was very young. Reared by his mother, Bernice, he was a bit of a drifter into his late teens, never graduating from high school and focusing on his future only when he found music. His first instrument was the guitar, though, as his wife tells the story, he was lousy at it.

"Someone suggested he play the bass because it didn't have so many strings," Ms. Kniss said. "And he just became passionate about it."

He began an itinerant music career in San Francisco, then moved to Troy, N.Y., to play in the short-lived trio Dick, Dick and Nick before landing in New York City. He was playing in a band led by the clarinetist and saxophonist Woody Herman when he heard that Peter, Paul and Mary were looking for a bassist.

In addition to his wife, whom he met while he was playing a gig in the Poconos — "I was a fan," she said — and married in 1969, he is survived by their two sons, Jonathan and Peter; a son from a previous relationship, Richard Manders; two sisters, Carol Smith and Karen Stensrud; a half-brother, Lewis Johnson; and seven grandchildren.

Mr. Kniss played with Denver from 1970 to 1978, was featured on many of his recordings and wrote "Sunshine on My Shoulders" with him and Mike Taylor. But he joined the band simply because he needed the work. In 1970, Denver had not yet become the clear-voiced crooner of popular, sentimental ballads like "Annie's Song" and "Rocky Mountain High," though he had written "Leaving on a Jet Plane," which Peter, Paul and Mary turned into a No. 1 hit in 1969.

Denver asked him to play electric bass, which he did for the only time in his career.

"Back then when you flew, the bass was carried in its own seat in the plane, like a child, and John Denver couldn't afford it," Diane Kniss recalled. Denver asked Mr. Kniss to set the stand-up instrument aside and play the electric. "Denver said, 'When we get some money, the first thing we'll do is bring it back,' " she said. "And that's what he did."

A version of this article appeared in print on January 28, 2012, on page D7 of the New York edition with the headline: Dick Kniss Is Dead at 74; Peter, Paul and Mary Bassist.

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