Folk Icon Pete Seeger Dies at 94

Lifelong activist spearheaded folk revival

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 28, 2014 3:47 AM CST | Updated Jan 28, 2014 6:33 AM CST

(Newser) – Pete Seeger, a towering presence in American folk music and activism for many decades, has died after 94 years—and more than 100 albums. The bearded, banjo-playing protest singer gained fame with the Weavers in the '40s and is best known for popularizing songs like This Land Is Your Land and We Shall Overcome, as well as writing or co-writing folk classics like If I Had a Hammer and Turn, Turn, Turn, the BBC reports. He spearheaded the American folk revival of the '50s and '60s and was an inspiration and mentor to many younger singers including Bob Dylan and Joan Baez.

But activism was as important to Seeger as music. A lifelong believer in causes like civil rights, racial equality, and anti-militarism, he saw folk music and community as "inseparable, and where he saw a community, he saw the possibility of political action," a New York Times obituary notes. Blacklisted in the McCarthyite '50s, his activism continued until the very end. At a 90th birthday tribute concert—a benefit to clean up New York's Hudson River—Bruce Springsteen introduced him, saying, "He's gonna look a lot like your granddad that wears flannel shirts and funny hats. He's gonna look like your granddad if your granddad can kick your ass. At 90, he remains a stealth dagger through the heart of our country's illusions about itself," USA Today reports.

Pete Seeger in 1967.   (AP Photo/ADN-D.Steinberg, File)
This Sept. 21, 2013, file photo shows Pete Seeger performing during Farm Aid 2013 at Saratoga Performing Arts Center. The folk singer and activist died Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, at age 94.   (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)
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