‘Puff, The Magic Dragon’ Singer Peter Yarrow Booted From Festival Over 1970 ‘Indecent Liberties’ Conviction

The Peter, Paul and Mary singer served jail time after an incident with a 14-year-old groupie in 1969.

Peter Yarrow, founding member of the legendary folk group Peter, Paul and Mary, sings and speaks about the 1967 March on the Pentagon during a vigil marking the 50th anniversary of the protest outside the Pentagon October 20, 2017 in Arlington, Virginia.
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The Peter, Paul and Mary singer served jail time after an incident with a 14-year-old groupie in 1969.

Peter, Paul and Mary founding member Peter Yarrow has been pulled from the lineup of an upstate New York music festival amid outrage over a 50-year-old incident with an underage girl that ended with a jail sentence. The 81-year-old folk singer’s past came back to haunt him as he was disinvited from the Colorscape Chenango Arts Festival, which takes place in September, amid concerns over the pre-Me Too scandal, Page Six reports. Peter Yarrow had been scheduled to perform at the free two-day festival in Norwich, NY on September 8, alongside performance painter Robert Channing (America’s Got Talent).

A festival representative confirmed that the decision to remove Yarrow was due to backlash on social media regarding the folk legend’s 1970 jail sentence for taking “immoral and improper liberties” with a 14-year-old girl in a hotel room after a 1969 concert. Colorscape’s board president, Melissa DeCordova, told the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin that bookers for the event were originally unaware of Yarrow’s 1970 “indecent liberties” conviction.

“Some members of our community expressed concern, and after further investigation and careful consideration, the decision was made to remove Yarrow from the music schedule.”

A rep for Yarrow confirmed that the singer accepts the board’s decision to remove him from the New York festival.

Peter Yarrow was sentenced to three months in jail in 1970 after pleading guilty to a 1969 incident in which a 14-year-old and her 17-year-old sister went to his hotel room for an autograph and he answered the door naked. A previous report by Page Six stated that the singer allegedly “made sexual advances that stopped short of intercourse” with the underage groupie.

In 1981, then-President Jimmy Carter pardoned Yarrow on the day before he left office. According to The Washington Post, in his petition for the pardon, Peter Yarrow cited his concern that he would soon have to tell his young children about “the most terrible mistake” he ever made. Yarrow added that a presidential pardon would help his children understand that “society has forgiven their father” and might help lessen the “sense of shame that they will inevitably feel.”

At the time of his pardon, Peter Yarrow was married to Mary Beth McCarthy, the niece of Democratic Senator Eugene J. McCarthy.

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Yarrow, whose folk trio served as a soundtrack to the protest scenes of the 1960s and often attracted very young fans, later publicly expressed regret for his poor judgment, according to CNN.

“It was an era of real indiscretion and mistakes by categorically male performers. I was one of them. I got nailed. I was wrong. I’m sorry for it.”

This is not the first time Peter Yarrow has sparked protest. Page Six reports that, in 2014, students and parents of Yarrow’s alma mater, La Guardia HS for the Performing Arts, protested when the school announced plans to add its famous alumni to its Hall of Fame.

In the early 1960s, Peter Yarrow, Paul Stookey and Mary Travers shot to fame as the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary. The group performed popular versions of the ’60s anthems ”Blowin’ in the Wind'” and ”If I Had a Hammer,” and in 1963 recorded their most famous hit, “Puff, the Magic Dragon.”