Greenbriar Boys Founder John Herald Dead at 65

Singer-Songwriter Played Key Role in Folk and Bluegrass Movements of the '60s

Singer-songwriter John Herald, who helped bring bluegrass music to mainstream America, has died at age 65, reports the Daily Freeman newspaper in Kingston, N.Y. The date and cause of death have not been disclosed.

Born John Whittier Sirabian in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City, the singer-guitarist was a founding member of the Greenbriar Boys, a group that became one of the first professional bluegrass bands to emerge from the North during the folk music boom of the early ’60s. In the band, Herald worked with several notable musicians, including Bob Yellin, Eric Weissberg, Ralph Rinzler and Frank Wakefield. Herald’s original composition, “Stewball,” became a standard among folk singers after Peter, Paul and Mary recorded it.

After the Greenbriar Boys disbanded in 1966, Herald worked on a variety of projects as a solo artist and with bands. Herald recorded four albums for Rounder Records as a member of the Woodstock Mountain Revue, a collective that also featured folk singers Artie and Happy Traum, banjo player Bill Keith and two singer-songwriters who later found success in Nashville — Pat Alger and Jim Rooney. As a session guitarist, Herald recorded with Bonnie Raitt, Doc Watson, Bette Midler, Ian and Sylvia and others.