NEW YORK — Dave Fisher, the lead singer of the Highwaymen, the popular 1960s folk group whose hit song “Michael, Row the Boat Ashore” soared to the top of the music charts, has died. He was 69.

Fisher died Friday at his home in Rye, N.Y., of a bone marrow disease, his wife, Dr. Elaine K. Haagen, said Thursday.

Fisher was a freshman at Wesleyan University in Connecticut in 1958 when he and four other students formed the band. United Artists released Fisher’s arrangement of the spiritual “Michael, Row the Boat Ashore” while they were still in school. It soared to the top of the best-seller chart under the title “Michael,” earning the group a gold record.

Other hits followed, including “Cotton Fields” and “The Gypsy Rover,” as did appearances on Ed Sullivan’s and Johnny Carson’s TV shows.

The group began to frequently play the Gaslight Cafe in New York’s Greenwich Village section and came into contact with greats such as Bob Dylan, Tom Paxton and Buffy Sainte-Marie.

They disbanded in 1964 but came together again in 1987 for a concert for their 25th college reunion. Since then, they have performed 10-12 concerts a year, said Ken Greengrass, the group’s longtime manager. The band last performed together in August in Massachusetts.


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