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Posts Tagged ‘Pete Seeger’

Died On This Date (June 6, 2015) Ronnie Gilbert / Folk Music Great; The Weavers

Posted by themusicsover on June 6, 2015

Ronnie Gilbert
September 7, 1926 – June 6, 2015

ronnie-gilbertSimply put, Ronnie Gilbert was folk music royalty.  Along with Pete Seeger, Lee Hays, and Fred Hellerman, Gilbert formed the Weavers in 1948.  Based in the folk mecca of New York’s Greenwich Village, the band was arguably the most influential folk group the scene had ever produced.  Artists and activists like Joan Baez, Bob DylanMimi & Richard Farina, and Peter, Paul & Mary were all products of the folk revival they kicked off by putting a contemporary spin on folk music.  The band gained popularity, mostly by word of mouth, while their songs resonated with so-called progressive causes like civil rights and workers’ rights.  Their recordings of “If I Had a Hammer,” “This Land is Your Land,” and “Goodnight Irene” – among many others – became folk music standards.  During the 1950s, the Weavers became a victim of the “Red Scare,” causing them to become blacklisted from radio stations, television and beyond.  Due to a lack of bookings and recording opportunities that followed, the band broke up.  But in 1955, they reunited for a much-heralded performance at Carnegie Hall, which lead to renewed interest in their music.  The group continued on, though with Erik Darling replacing Seeger, over the next decade before calling it quits again.  Gilbert went on to enjoy a career in theater as well as as a solo recording artist.  In 1980, the surviving Weavers reunited once again to a sold-out crowd at Carnegie Hall.  Ronnie Gilbert was 88 when she passed away on June 6, 2015

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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  Educated primarily in boarding schools, he was very well-educated and somewhat withdrawn until he found his spotlight while entertaining classmates with a ukulele he picked up on his own.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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Died On This Date (April 22, 2011) Hazel Dickens / Bluegrass Icon

Posted by themusicsover on April 22, 2011

Hazel Dickens
June 1, 1935 – April 22, 2011

Hazel Dickens was a popular Appalachian bluegrass and folk singer, songwriter and musician who was revered for her beautiful voice as well as for her socially driven lyrics that tended to touch on feminism and pro-union causes.   Born into a poor mining family in West Virginia, Dickens became friends with Pete Seeger‘s brother and fellow musician Mike Seeger, who prompted her desire to get involved with the highly active Baltimore-Washington folk music scene of the ’60s.  She and Seeger’s wife, Alice Gerard went on to perform and record as Hazel & Alice.  By the mid ’70s, Dickens was working as a solo artist.  Four of her early recordings can be heard in the award-winning mining documentary, Harlan County, USA.  She also appeared in the film as well as Matewan and Songcatcher.  Although she stopped putting out albums in the mid ’80s, Dickens could still be found performing live for many years to come, even as recently as at Austin’s SXSW music conference in March of 2011.  Hazel Dickens passed away on April 22, 2011.  She was 75.

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By the Sweat of My Brow - Hazel Dickens

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Died On This Date (August 14, 1958) Big Bill Broonzy / Blues Icon

Posted by themusicsover on August 14, 2010

Big Bill Broonzy
June 26, 1898 – August 14, 1958

Big Bill Broonzy was a popular blues singer and guitarist whose career ran from the early ’20s until his death in the late ’50s.  First playing country blues to black audiences in and around his hometown in Arkansas, Broonzy moved to Chicago in the early ’20s and began playing a more polished urban blues, eventually attracting a white audience.  As a composer, he was very prolific, with over 300 songs or adaptations to his name.  He stayed very busy recording and touring through the ’30s and ’40s, but by the ’50s, his career ran stale and he considered retiring from music.  But with the birth of the folk revival, Broonzy’s traditional songs were back in fashion and he found success touring with the likes of Pete Seeger, Lead BellySonny Terry and Brownie McGhee.  He died of throat cancer at the age of 60.

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The Young Big Bill Broonzy - Big Bill Broonzy

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Died On This Date (August 7, 2009) Mike Seeger / Folk Legend

Posted by themusicsover on August 7, 2010

Mike Seeger
August 15, 1933 – August 7, 2009

Photo by John Cohen

Mike Seeger was a traditional folk singer and musician who was a direct influence on Bob Dylan. It was his passion for traditional folk music that struck a chord with the younger generations who explored the genre and incorporated it into their own music.  Born into a musical family – Pete Seeger was his half-brother – Seeger taught himself to play the guitar at the age of 18.  He soon began making and collecting field recordings of old-timey musicians.  In 1958, Seeger co-founded an old-time string band called the New Lost City Ramblers who were instrumental in the folk revival of the 1960s.  Throughout his career, Seeger was nominated for six Grammys.  In July of 2009, Mike Seeger went into hospice care after a long battle with cancer.  He succumbed to the disease on August 7, 2009 at the age of 75.

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True Vine - Mike Seeger

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