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Died On This Date (August 26, 1981) Lee Hays / The Weavers

Posted by themusicsover on August 26, 2010

Lee Hays
March 14, 1914 – August 26, 1981

Photo by Robert C. Malone

Photo by Robert C. Malone

No doubt effected by the lynchings he witnessed as a child, Lee Hays grew up to become a voice of the people, first as a union activist and later as a folk singer who co-founded the Weavers in 1948.  With the Weavers, Hays co-wrote such classic folk songs as “If I Had A Hammer,” “Wimoweh” and “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine.”  Because of his connections with radical groups during his days as an activist, the group was targeted as “communist sympathizers” during the McCarthy era.  In 1950, they were blacklisted, and when brought before the House Committee Of Un-American Activities, Hays pleaded the 5th when questioned about his perceived connections with communism.  No longer able to perform publicly, the Weavers disbanded in 1952.  Hays performed and recorded periodically over the years, most notably on children’s albums as part of Alan Arkin’s the Baby Sitters.  The Weavers reunited in later years for special concert events.  Lee Hays died of heart disease attributed to diabetes on August 26, 1981.  He was 67.  Thankfully, Morgana Kennedy and her team at Vanguard keep finding new ways to celebrate the wonderful music of Lee Hays and the Weavers.

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