Legendary folk music icon Pete Seeger died Monday at the age of 94. He was as famous for his work championing folk music and for his committal to civil rights as he was as a singer, instrumentalist (he played both guitar and banjo) and writer of such folk standards as “If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)” and “Turn, Turn, Turn!” His career as a performer spanned over70 years, going all the way back to the seminal folk groups as The Weavers and The Almanac Singers. In later years he became an elder statesman of folk music, mentoring Bob Dylan and Don McLean among others.
Pete Seeger was born in New York City in 1919. Though his family was of a musical and academic background, Seeger took to the study of the banjo and the classic folk songs and spirituals of rural America. Along with his commitment to folk music came a dedication to liberal activism that continued until his last days. His work with The Weavers helped bring folk music into the mainstream though their political leanings led to their blacklisting during the McCarthy era. By the 1960s however with the folk boom in full flight Seeger reemerged as one of the movement’s leading lights.
In honor of his enduring musical legacy VH1 Classic will be airing the 2007 documentary Pete Seeger: The Power of Song this Friday, January 31st at 9/8C. It will also be shown on Palladia Thursday, January 30th at 6/5C.