Thank you to Stan Wilson for providing this photoStan Wilson

b. May 2, 1922 / Oakland, CA
d. June 8, 2005 / Berkeley, CA

Singer / Songwriter

February 14, 2006, The LINER NOTES, in conjunction with the family of Stan Wilson proudly announces a new WebSite dedicated to the memory of Stan Wilson and his many contributions to popular music . . .

Stan Wilson's daughter is available for e-mail exchanges regarding her father

Are all your Stan Wilson records lost to the ravages of time? 
Are you interested in Stan's recordings on CD?

Stan Wilson as pictured on his circa 1958 Verve Records recording "Stan Wilson at the Ash Grove."

 Album liner notes 
& other articles on Stan Wilson:

  • NOTE: A video performance of Stan Wilson can be found in the out-of-print video from Pacific Arts Video Records (PAVR-531) release "hungry i Reunion" (1980.) -- Jerry


Stan Wilson: a LINER NOTES editorial

Who is Stan Wilson? 

I am frequently asked this question by those who dig deep enough into the pages of the LINER NOTES to discover my personal enthusiasm for the artist and his work. So let me take a few minutes to discuss what I’ve come to know of Stan Wilson and his contribution to contemporary popular music.

I begin by saying that I believe Stan Wilson to be one of the most influential artists to appear on the music scene in the history of American popular music. Stan Wilson is, in my view, the bedrock-foundation for the stage presentation of a lineage of artists that continues to vie their craft to this day. Further, without Stan Wilson there would have been no Kingston Trio. Nor would there have followed the popular folk boom of the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Why Wilson

Stan Wilson was "the" entertainer to see on the San Francisco music scene of the mid-1950s and was responsible for putting Enrico Banducci's little bistro in the basement of the Sentinel Building, the hungry 'i', on the entertainment map. It was Wilson's room-packing popularity that moved Banducci to relocate the club around the corner to bigger digs on Jackson Street, the location where all of those "from the hungry 'i'" albums were made. And it was Stan Wilson whom three young college students from down the peninsula would journey to see when they came to the bohemian haunts of San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood for fun and entertainment. 

Out of necessity, and a love for the music, Stan Wilson began to present a varied program to feed the tastes of his audiences. In a single Stan Wilson set one could hear not only the chanteys, ballads and airs of international folk music, but the ear would also be pleasured with strains of calypso, jazz, blues, pop-standards, country & western, and show-tunes as well. Soon, this innovatively open approach to performance was also adopted by the Gateway Singers (Lou Gottlieb, Jerry Walter, Travis Edmonson, and Elmerlee Thomas) and later picked up and propagated by the Kingston Trio as evidenced in their first self-titled LP recording and the #2 follow-up, ". . . from the hungry 'i'.  

Later West-Coast groups also followed the Stan Wilson model. The student does not have to dig too deep into the works of the Brothers Four or the Limeliters (with Gottlieb again,) and others to find more Stan Wilson influences.

Wilson recordings were equally uninhibited. As early as 1956 Stan Wilson tracks saw orchestral and electric guitar accompaniment. The Gateway Singers soon followed in 1957 with their own expanded accompaniment arrangements, and the Kingston Trio with their offering, Something Special, in 1962. This approach to folk based accompaniment was rarely used by the mainstream until the folk-rock genre began to appear, eventually delivering the coup de gras to the great folk boom.

And the Stan Wilson affect on the Kingston Trio runs deeper still Bob Shane credits Wilson (and another entertainer on the contemporary scene, Josh White,) with teaching him the 6-string guitar--Shane had been a ukulele and tenor banjo player. And it was from Wilson that Shane credits the idea for the double pick-guard that became his hallmark in the minds of so many Trio fans in the first half of the '60s decade.

This fan considers Stan Wilson's variegated performance as mirrored by so many commercially successful west-coast centric folk artists and bands to be arguably the beginning of the schism with the academically focused east-coast school of folk performance. Further, it is my view that eastern artists who were receptive to the innovations of Stan Wilson shared in the commercial rewards. We can trace Wilson influences to the likes of Bob Dylan, Roger McGuinn (the Byrds) and others who ushered in the folk-rock movement and, in turn, a new wave in popular music.

Jerry Kergan

Photo excerpt from the album cover of "Stan Wilson Goes to College." (c. 1961)"Stan Wilson was sort of the Pete Best of the Kingston Trio. Legend has it that he could have been a charter member (various stories have him in the original Shane or Reynolds position or making the group a foursome) but instead chose what he thought would surely be a more lucrative career as a solo Folkster. Tale of his awesome talents are widespread, so who knows what we all may have missed out on. Four Jolly Coachmen, perhaps? In any case, Dave, Nick, and Bob recorded Stan's 'Rollin' Stone' for 'Here We Go Again.' . . . "

-- from Bill Bush's song notes on Rollin' Stone;
The Guard Years
(Bear Family Records (BCD 16160 JK)

Stan Wilson is a West Coast singer who has had unusual success with folksongs, calypso, blues and modern songs written in the folk manner. He was born May 2, 1922, in Oakland, California. He attended elementary schools in Oakland and Berkeley and high school in Berkeley. His parents were not singers or musicians, and he is largely self-taught.A hungry 'i' publicity postcard from the 1950s.

Stan recalls that his first performance was in the first grade at school, and he’s been singing ever since. Singing of folksongs became a professional interest for him about 1949. He collects songs to add to his repertoire, uses the guitar, and does his own arrangements. He’s published a few songs, including “Rollin’ Stone,” known as a Western ballad type.

His performances number in the thousands, for singing and playing are his regular occupation as well as his hobby. In the main, he has appeared at the favorite supper clubs in San Francisco, Chicago, Milwaukee, Reno, Las Vegas, and elsewhere. Stan reports as follows on his singing of folksongs: “I sing mostly folksongs because I find I get the greatest feeling from them.” He has done several long-playing recordings.* The San Francisco Examiner (September 27, 1953), Billboard (November 14, 1953), and other journals have given highest praise to his performances.

Stan Wilson was married to his first wife, Roberta, from 1946 to 1952. They are the parents of three children: Paul . . . Wayne . . . and Randy (a girl) . . . He was married to Tamar Hodel in 1953, and they have a daughter, Deborah. The Wilsons make their home in San Francisco.

SOURCE: “Folksingers and Folksongs in America,”
by Ray M. Lawless, NY: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1965
. . . and many thanks to Pete Curry for providing the transcription of this bio.


Kingston Trio Songs Credited to
Stan Wilson
Song Title
1. Fledermaus Die (ASCAP) (with Richard Genee, Johann Strauss, Jr.)
2. Jane, Jane, Jane (ASCAP)
3. Night
4. A Rolling Stone (ASCAP)
5. Waikiki Farewell (ASCAP) (with Mary Johnston Tobin, Tony Todaro)
NOTE: Entertainer Stan Wilson at a recording session in Oakland, CA, August 29, 2002.It seems likely that Stan Wilson was a significant influence on the Kingston Trio's choice of material through the years. In addition to the two ASCAP credited Trio songs listed above, Stan Wilson offered early recordings of several songs that were later recorded by Trio. However, Wilson chose to not take personal credit for his arrangements, instead, crediting them as public domain/traditional:

 RIGHT: Stan Wilson, the evening of August 29, 2002, is pictured here with his well-traveled guitar case >>>  


Oakland Tribune Obituary

(Oakland Tribune, Saturday, June 11, 2005)

Stan Wilson, wrote songs for Kingston Trio, dies
By Kristin Bender, STAFF WRITER

OAKLAND — Stan Wilson, a singer, guitarist and songwriter credited with writing songs for the Kingston Trio, died Wednesday. He was 83.

Mr. Wilson was born May 2, 1922, in Oakland, grew up in West Oakland and Berkeley and graduated from Berkeley High School in 1940.

His first musical performance was in the first grade, but it wasn't until the 1950s that the self-taught musician made a name for himself in San Francisco's music scene.

Enrico Banducci hired him to play and sing at the opening of San Francisco's hungry i nightclub, where many young comedians — including Bill Cosby, Lenny Bruce and Phyllis Diller — performed. The Kingston Trio recorded two albums at the club.

On stage, Mr. Wilson's sets included calypso, jazz, blues, ballads and folk songs. He traveled the country, playing thousands of times in supper clubs in San Francisco, Chicago, Milwaukee, Reno, Las Vegas and elsewhere, according to "Folksingers and Folksongs in America."

Appearances in Australia, China, Japan, Hawaii and Alaska inspired him to learn the ethnic folk music of places he visited. His trusty guitar went with him everywhere, and he covered its case with stickers from his trips, said sister Jerri Lange, the mother of Ted Lange, who played Isaac Washington on television's "Love Boat."

Mr. Wilson recorded at least a handful of long-play records and is credited for writing the songs "Jane, Jane, Jane" and "Rolling Stone," and songs for the Kingston Trio, family members said.
"Music was his life, that is what he lived for," Lange said. "When you are able to make money doing what you love, you are blessed, and Stan was blessed."

Mr. Wilson lived alone in Berkeley after two divorces.

He stopped performing in nightclubs in the 1970s and turned his attention to visiting Alameda County elementary schools, educating students with music and messages from foreign lands.

He wrote original folk music for children and got them singing his songs.

"He loved it ... he brought his guitar that had stamps from all over the world. And the kids would participate in the songs, and he would teach them songs from all over the world," Lange said.

In a 1980 interview, Mr. Wilson said, "Kids keep you honest. If you don't deliver, they'll let you know. They'll start to fidget or play games or look at you funny. So I get them involved in what I'm doing. They're part of my show."

Although he hadn't visited the schools for years, he was healthy and enjoying his life, his sister said. "He just never complained, he was never sick," she said.

But when a neighbor didn't see him fetch his newspaper from his yard for two days straight, authorities were called to investigate. They found Mr. Wilson sitting in a chair.
"He really died the way he lived," Lange said. "He was so casual, he took life as it came."

Frank Gentle from the Alameda County Coroner's Office said the cause of death was heart disease.

Mr. Wilson also is survived by sister Phyllis Anderson of Richmond; sons Wayne and Paul Wilson, both of Oakland; daughter Randy Wilson of Richmond; and daughter Fawna Wilson of Kentucky. A memorial service is pending.

San Francisco Chronicle Obituary

Stan Wilson -- singer made folk accessible

Joel Selvin, Chronicle Senior Pop Music Critic

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Folksinger Stan Wilson, one of the key figures in the '50s folk boom in San Francisco, died from a stroke at his Berkeley home on Thursday. He was 83.

Mr. Wilson, who recorded more than seven albums in his long career, was the first entertainer to play the famed hungry i when the club opened in 1952. At first, he appeared only on weekends, but soon he was performing six nights a week at the historic North Beach nightspot for more than three years.

Two of his compositions, "Jane, Jane, Jane" and "A Rolling Stone," were recorded by the Kingston Trio. It's likely that Mr. Wilson, who was said to have turned down an invitation to join the group, influenced the trio's repertoire and style.

Mr. Wilson distinguished himself by playing a wide variety of material -- calypso, folk, ballads and pop standards. He recorded for the Cavalier, Verve and Fantasy labels and was widely known as a protégé of folksinger Josh White, whose guitar Mr. Wilson carried in a battered, travel-sticker-covered case for the rest of his life.

Chronicle critic Ralph J. Gleason wrote in 1962 that Mr. Wilson, along with White, the Gateway Singers and the Weavers, "helped make the beginnings of the folk music invasion."

He was inducted into the Bay Area Blues Society's Hall of Fame in February.

Born in 1922 in Oakland, Mr. Wilson was raised in Berkeley, where he earned letters in football and track at Berkeley High School. He served with the Merchant Marine during World War II.

A political activist long before the era of sit-ins and demonstrations, he was suspended on a "loyalty" charge from his job at the post office in the '40s for having sung at a Civil Rights Congress meeting.

He spent time in the mid-'60s teaching music on the Navajo Indian reservation in Arizona. Even after he retired from performing, Mr. Wilson taught guitar at Feather River Camp in Oakland and played school assemblies in San Francisco and Oakland.

"He loved kids, and he loved working with them," said his sister Jerri Lange, the pioneer black broadcast journalist. "He loved teaching them songs from around the world. That was his happiest time, as much as the hungry i."

He was married twice and had four children: Paul, Wayne, Randy and Deborah. Memorial services will be announced.


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