Pete Seeger, the Johnny Appleseed of American folk music, died of natural causes after a stay at New York Presbyterian Hospital. He was 94.
Seeger is perhaps best known for writing, co-writing or adapting a number of folk standards ranging from “If I Had a Hammer” to “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” to “Turn, Turn, Turn,” a tune The Byrds made famous in the 1960s. Others might remember Seeger as folk singer who threatened to cut the power during a “controversial” Bob Dylan electric set at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival.
Seeger was born May 3, 1919, in New York City. By the 1940s, the banjo-playing Seeger was an established folk singer who traveled with the likes of Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter and Woody Guthrie; Seeger also co-founded The Almanac Singers and The Weavers in the 1940s.
“He thought everyone could be heroic,” Seeger’s grandson, Kitama Cahill-Jackson, told NBC News. “He got the world to sing. I think he was a role model to his family, to the whole world.”
Added his grandson to CNN: “He lived at a time when so many things hadn’t been done yet, the idea of making music about something hadn’t really been done. And now people do it all the time.”
A one-time Communist, Seeger was charged with contempt of Congress after a run in with the House Un-American Activities Committee. The charge was overturned on appeal.