November 01, 2014

PETE SEEGER (1947-74)

Singer who for more than 30 years was vital in sustaining the folk music tradition and who was the principal inspiration for younger performers in the folk revival of the 1960s.

Leaving Harvard after two years in 1938 he hitchhiked and rode freight trains around the country gathering a store of country ballads, work songs and hymns and developing a remarkable virtuosity on the five-string banjo.

In 1940 he organized the Almanac Singers, a quartet that also featured the folk singer and composer Woody Guthrie and appeared at union halls, farm meetings and wherever his populist political sentiments were welcome.

The group disbanded soon after World War II.
In 1948 he formed another the Weavers that achieved considerable success on campuses, in concert and on several records until it broke up in 1958.
After that time Seeger worked alone or with his family.

He was a beloved fixture at folk festivals and was given major credit for fostering the growth of the hootenanny (a gathering of performers playing and singing for each other often with audience participation) as a characteristically informal and personal style of entertainment.

Among the many songs he wrote himself or in collaboration with others were Where Have All the Flowers Gone, If I Had a Hammer, Kisses Sweeter than Wine and Turn, Turn, Turn.

He is the son of the influential musicologist Charles Seeger and the nephew of the poet Alan Seeger.

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