Blowin' In the Wind: Pete Seeger, Grandfather Folkie and Author of "If I Had a Hammer," Dies at Age 94

By Ian Holubiak on Jan 28, 2014 07:05 PM EST

The grandfather of the folk movement, singing troubadour to Masters of the Universe and college youths alike, author of America's folk standard "If I Had a Hammer"--Pete Seeger--passed away on Monday at New York's Presbyterian Hospital. He was a mighty 94 years old.

The Woody Guthrie protégé may very well have incited what became known as the Folk Revival, born on the sidewalks of New York's Greenwich Village. He performed for a budding younger generation, migrant farm workers and star-dazed presidents alike, saying: "I have sung in hobo jungles, and I have sung for the Rockefellers, and I am proud that I have never refused to sing for anybody."

The banjo-wielding crooner perhaps ushered in a new era of folk music and fandom. He wrote "If I Had a Hammer," an anthem of the Civil Rights Movement, famously covered by Peter, Paul and Mary. He also composed "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" a beautiful anti-war standard.

He mentored the greater measure of famous folkies--the likes of Don McLean, Bernice Johnson Reagon and the man himself, Mr. Bob Dylan.

He lent his voice to fend off Hitler and sat in Zuccotti Park with the Occupy Wall Street movement. He defended his liberties after being blacklisted by McCarthy's Red Scare against communists--because if you had a guitar and sang folk music, damnit, you were a Commie!

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Seeger was barred from television for 17 years in light of his "Communist background."  Yet, he performed for a younger crowd and taught them to believe in non-commercial success. He advocated chanting and crowd participation at his concerts, stating: "There's no such thing as a wrong note as long as you're singing it."

A truly remarkable musician, grandfather to movements and cultural independence alike, seed for upheaval and demonstrator of equality, the late Pete Seeger will be sorely missed and never forgotten as folk music loses a true hero and are forced to endure a modern madness.

So, here he is, in all his might...the late Pete Seeger performing "If I Had a Hammer" in 1956.

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TagsPete Seeger, Peter Paul and Mary, Bob Dylan, The Folk Revival, Don McLean, Bernice Johnson Reagon, McCarthy Era, McCarthy Red Scare, The Rockefellers, Woody Guthrie, Occupy Wall Street, Zuccotti Park

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