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Died On This Date (January 27, 2014) Pete Seeger / American Folk Singer and Activist

Posted by themusicsover on January 27, 2014

Pete Seeger
May 3, 1919 – January 27, 2014

pete-seegerPete Seeger is regarded by many as the single most important figure of the American folk music revival of the late ’50s/early ’60s.  Just as important to many, he used his talent and popularity to shine a light on social injustice, poverty, environmental issues, anti-war movements, and more.  Born into a highly academic  and musical family in New York City, Seeger was exposed to music at a very young age.  Educated primarily in boarding schools, he was very well-educated and somewhat withdrawn until he found his spotlight while entertaining classmates with a ukulele he picked up on his own.  By the late ’30s, he switched over to the banjo, the instrument he would help popularize three decades later.  As the years went on, Seeger went from small festival folky to cultural hero thanks in part to his songs that would become the soundtrack to the ’60s Civil Rights Movement and beyond.  Tunes like “If I Had A Hammer” written with Weavers band mate, Lee Hays), “Turn, Turn, Turn,” and “Where Have All The Flowers Gone” have become folk standards as well as part of the fabric that is American music.  They, and many others, have been recorded by a who’s who of pop, rock and folk singers throughout the past half century.  To name just a few of his honors, Seeger has received the National Medal Of Arts, the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award, a Kennedy Center Honor, induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a George Peabody Medal, and multiple Grammys, including one for Best Children’s Album in 2010.  To list those who could rightfully say “if it wasn’t for Pete Seeger…” would take days, but two in particular were Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. It was Seeger who urged Columbia’s John Hammond to produce Dylan’s first album.  Springsteen meanwhile would devote much of his career paying tribute to Seeger, including naming his 2010 album, We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, which ironically, included no songs penned by Seeger, but whose influence can be heard throughout.  With an astonishing career that spanned 75 years, Seeger remained active up until his final days, including a September 2013 performance at Farm Aid at the age of 94.  Pete Seeger was nearly three months shy of his 95th birthday when he passed away on January 27, 2014.

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