Dick Kniss, a former self-taught musician who spent more than 40 years playing upright bass for the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary, passed away Wednesday (Jan. 25)  in Kingston, N.Y., from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He was 74.

Kniss started playing behind Peter Yarrow, Noel Paul Stookey and Mary Travers in 1964, soon after they recorded their early hits 'Puff the Magic Dragon' and a cover of Bob Dylan’s 'Blowin’ in the Wind.' He remained with the iconic act for the rest of the '60s, parting ways when they themselves did so at the close of the decade.

Kniss then began playing with John Denver, helping the singer-songwriter pen one of his biggest hits, 'Sunshine on My Shoulders.' He rejoined Peter, Paul and Mary when they reunited in 1978, and remained in the group until Mary's death in 2009.

Kniss was "our intrepid bass player for almost as long as we performed together," Peter Yarrow said in a statement. "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."

A memorial service for Kniss will be held tomorrow at 2PM ET the Seamon-Wilsey Funeral Home in Saugerties, N.Y.

More From Ultimate Classic Rock