Pete Seeger, the banjo-picking troubadour who sang for migrant workers, college students and star-struck presidents in a career that introduced generations of Americans to their folk music heritage, died on Monday at the age of 94.
Seeger’s grandson, Katama Cahill-Jackson, said his grandfather died at New York Presbyterian Hospital, where he’d been for six days. “He was chopping wood 10 days ago,” he said.
Seeger gained fame as a member of The Weavers, a quartet formed in 1948, and had hits such as Goodnight, Irene, helping set the stage for a national folk revival.
The group – Seeger, Lee Hays, Ronnie Gilbert and Fred Hellerman – made hit recordings of Tzena, Tzena, Tzena and On Top of Old Smoky.
Seeger performed with the folk musician Woody Guthrie in his younger days and he wrote or co-wrote If I Had a Hammer; Turn!, Turn!, Turn!; Where Have All the Flowers Gone? and Kisses Sweeter Than Wine.
He used his voice against Hitler and nuclear power. But in the 1950s, his leftist politics got him blacklisted and he was kept off commercial television for more than a decade.
He continued performing and recording for six decades afterwards 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.
He was on stage in January 2009 for a gala concert in Washington two days before Barack Obama was inaugurated.