Pete Seeger: Folk Music Pioneer Dies At 94

Sky News US Team
Pete Seeger: Folk Music Pioneer Dies At 94

American folksinger Pete Seeger, a mentor to Bob Dylan and a civil rights activist, has died at age 94.

He died peacefully on Monday nights after six days in a New York hospital, his grandson, Kitama Cahill-Jackson, said.

"He was chopping wood 10 days ago," he recalled.

Seeger gained fame as a member of The Weavers, the quartet formed in 1948, and had hits such as Goodnight Irene.

He continued performing and recording for six decades afterward and was still an activist as recently as October 2011, when he marched in New York City as part of the Occupy Wall Street protests.

"Be wary of great leaders," he said after that march. "Hope that there are many, many small leaders."

With his a lanky frame, banjo and full white beard, Seeger was an iconic figure in folk music.

He wrote or co-wrote If I Had a Hammer, Turn, Turn, Turn, Where Have All the Flowers Gone, and Kisses Sweeter Than Wine - and often urged his audiences to sing along with his songs.

"Every kid who ever sat around a campfire singing an old song is indebted in some way to Pete Seeger," fellow folk singer and activist Arlo Guthrie once said.

In the 1950s, his leftist politics got him blacklisted and he was kept off commercial television for more than a decade.

Seeger was also credited with popularising We Shall Overcome, which he printed in his publication People's Song in 1948.

He later said his only contribution to the anthem of the civil rights movement was changing the second word from "will" to "shall," which he said "opens up the mouth better".

Seeger was onstage in January 2009 for a gala Washington concert two days before Barack Obama was inaugurated.

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