Mark Pearson ’69
Mark Pearson was a talented athlete, musician, and student with his eye to following in his father’s steps to become a doctor when he left Spokane to join Phi Gamma Delta in the Fall of 1965. By the Fall of 1968, he was an intramural star, a student who had met his match with Organic Chemistry, and facing an offer to become a member of an internationally recognized folk singing group — the Brothers Four.
A quick review of the Brothers Four. The original group were four folk singing Fijis who reportedly got “punked” by a fellow UW fraternity to show up at a non-existent audition for a local Seattle music club. Fortunately the club did give them an audition, and they became a stage success in Seattle.
The original Brothers Four of John Paine ’59, Dick Foley ’61, Bob Flick ’60, and Mike Kirkland ’61 later piled into Flick’s station wagon and headed to audition for the bigtime. In 1959 the big time for folk music on the West Coast was the Hungry I in San Francisco. Rolling into Berkley, the guys bunked down at the Cal Fiji House. They auditioned at the Hungy I, didn’t get a booking, left their contact phone number for the Cal Fiji House, and went back to Berkley to plan their next move. Much to their fortune, the booked group was a “no show”, the club called the Cal Fiji House, the guys performed that night, and the rest is history.
Fortune shined on the group, because an agent was in the audience and he quickly signed them to a contract, and three months later they had an international hit and were performing for President Kennedy’s Inauguration.
In November of 1968, Mike Kirkland ’61 had decided to leave the group. As the story goes, Mike first invited his discovery, John Denver, to become his replacement. John did not leap on the offer, and in December the call was made to the Sigma Tau house to invite Mark Pearson ’69 to replace Mike in the group. Mark accepted, made a whirlwind trip to New York to be introduced as the replacement member of the group, and off they went to perform. As the story goes, in January, John Denver called to say he had thought it over, and he was interested in being Kirkland’s replacement in the group.
The Brothers Four became an instant “coming of age” music group in Japan, and their folk singing has continued to have a wide following. The group recently completed their 52nd tour in Japan.
Thanks to Mark for his fun review of Brothers Four history, but also for bringing his guitar and sharing a few songs. The luncheon was well attended by members of the classes — ’68, 69, ’70, ’71, and 72.
Frank Childers ’70 and “Bucky” Buckholz ’69