Pete Seeger Biography
Died At Age: 94
Sun Sign: Taurus
Also Known As: Peter Seeger
Born in: Manhattan
Famous as: American singer
Spouse/Ex-: Toshi-Aline Ohta
father: Charles Seeger
mother: Constance Seeger
siblings: Mike Seeger, Peggy Seeger
children: Daniel Seeger, Mika Seeger, Peter Ōta Seeger, Tinya Seeger
U.S. State: New Yorkers
Founder/Co-Founder: The Almanac Singers, The Weavers
education: Avon Old Farms, Avon, CT (boarding school), Harvard University (dropped out)
Pete Seeger was one of the most illustrious folk singers of the 20th century. He was not only a singer but also a songwriter, labor activist, naturalist and peace advocate. During his long and fruitful career, he released a number of songs that went on to become chartbusters, most notably, ‘Goodnight Irene’, ‘Where Have All the Flowers Gone’ and ‘Turn, Turn, Turn!’ He was one of the founding members of the band, ‘The Weavers’ which became very popular. However, he quit the group after the other members agreed to perform for a cigarette commercial. Pursuing a solo career in the world of music, he sang and wrote songs pertaining to the civil rights, pressing environmental issues and international disarmament. With the advent of protest music, Seeger’s career was on an upsurge. A highlight of his career was when he popularized the song, ‘We Shall Overcome’, which went on to become a spiritual anthem all over the world and more importantly, during the American Civil Rights Movement, which created a positive impact on his career as an activist and a singer. Considered one of the big-guns of ‘folk’ music, Seeger has received innumerable awards for his countless contributions and he was also a recipient of the distinguished Grammy Awards. To learn more about this multi-talented personality, scroll further.
- Peter ‘Pete’ Seeger was born to Constance and Charles Seeger, in New York City. His father taught music at the University of California and his mother, who was also a musician, taught violin at The Juilliard School.
- His sister Peggy, too, would go on to become a folk musician and his brother, Mike, became a part of the ‘New Lost City Ramblers’.
- Seeger was an extremely gifted child and was very well-read, even at a young age. He studied at Avon Old Farms and then attended Harvard University on a scholarship, in 1936. However, after two years, he failed an exam and dropped out of the university.
- Throughout the remainder of the 1930s, he moved around like a gypsy, hitching rides and traveling on cargo trains around the country.
- In 1940, he began focusing on writing music, during which time he organized his first folk group called the ‘Almanac Singers’, along with Millard Lampell and Lee Hays.
- The group went on to record a number of albums but in 1942, the band stopped making music after he was conscripted into the Army during World War II. After the war ended three years later, he founded the magazine ‘Sing Out!’ and went back to performing folk songs.
- In 1949, he worked as a vocal instructor for the liberal City and Country School in Greenwich Village, New York.
- In 1950, the ‘Almanacs’ were re-formed as ‘The Weavers’. The same year, they began composing a string of major hits that topped major music charts for weeks including, ‘On Top of Old Smokey’ and ‘Goodnight, Irene’. They then released a string of other hits including, ‘Dusty Old Dust’, ‘Kisses Sweeter than Wine’ and ‘Wimoweh’.
- ‘The Weavers’ career was tersely wrecked in 1953 after they were outlawed. Two years later, they were briefly seen on stage and performed at a sold out gathering in Carnegie.
- In 1955, he wrote ‘Where Have All the Flowers Gone?’, which was published in ‘Sing Out!’ magazine. It was later made into a song by Joe Hickerson. This is largely considered the first of his anti-war verses.
- During the later part of the 1950s, he formed the ‘Kingston Trio’, a spin-off of ‘The Weavers’. They continued to record and release a number of singles such as ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’ and ‘The Bells of Rhymney’. He was also politically active during the period.
- In 1966, he recorded the album, ‘Dangerous Songs!?’, which was more of a ridicule album attacking the-then President Lyndon Johnson, pertaining to the arms race and Vietnam War issue.
- The following year, he attracted more attention when he wrote a song about the captain who drowned while leading a legion on military exercises during World War II. The name of the song was titled ‘Waist Deep in the Big Muddy’.
- From 1965 to 1966, he hosted a ‘folk music’ series which was produced on a low budget titled, ‘Rainbow Quest’. On the show, his guests were The Stanley Brothers, June Carter, Johnny Cash, The Beers Family ad Roscoe Holcomb.
- In 1966, he co-founded the environmental society, ‘Hudson River Sloop Clearwater’, which focused on emphasizing the pollution in the Hudson River and working towards cleaning it.
- In 1969, Seeger wrote a song about the Hudson River and performed on it titled ‘That Lonesome Valley’. It was during this time, he was considered a leading figure of the ‘folk’ revival period.
- He published a historic, bookish piece about folk music titled, ‘The Incompleat Folksinger’ 1972. Four years later, he wrote and recorded the anti-death punishment song, ‘Delbert Tibbs’, which was based on the death-row inmate, Delbert Tibbs.
- In 1980, he released the album ‘God Bless the Grass’. Throughout the remaining part of the decade, he expressed his condemnation of violent revolutions and also expressed his interest in favor of incremental revolution.
- From 1989 to 1992, he released a string of albums such as, ‘Traditional Christmas Carols’, ‘Folk Songs for Young People’ and ‘American Industrial Ballads’.
- He wrote his autobiography in 1993 titled, ‘Where Have All the Flowers Gone?’ The same year he released ‘Darling Corey/Goofing-Off Suite’.
- From 1996 to 2000, he released a string of albums including ‘Pete’, ‘Birds, Beasts, Bugs and Fishes’, ‘Headlines and Footnotes: A Collection of Topical Songs’ and ‘American Folk, Game and Activity Songs’.
- From 2002 to 2007, he released a string of ‘American Favorite Ballads’ records from Volume 1 to Volume 5. In 2008 he recorded the award-winning album, ‘At 89’. The next year, he performed at President Barack Obama’s inaugural celebration.
- In 2010, at the age of 91, he released ‘Tomorrow’s Children’, which he dedicated to environmental awareness. He won an important award for the album.
- From 2012 to 2013, he released a number of albums including ‘A More Perfect Union’, ‘Peter Remembers Woody’ and ‘The Storm King- Stories, Narratives, Poems’. He continues to support civil rights, international disarmament and environmental causes.
- ‘Where Have All the Flowers Gone?’ is regarded as one of his greatest singles, which he has also written. The song was written in 1955 and was then recorded five years later. It is currently listed as one of the ‘Top 20 Political Songs’ with a message.
- He received the ‘Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award’ in 1993 for his outstanding contributions to music.
- He won a Grammy Award for ‘Best Traditional Folk Album, for ‘Pete’, in 1997.
- He won a Grammy Award for ‘Best Traditional Album’ in 2008, for ‘At 89’.
- He was presented the ‘George Peabody Medal’, in 2013 in honour of his exceptional contributions to music in America.
- He married Toshi-Aline Ota during World War II, who passed away of cancer in 2013. The couple’s first child died 6 months after he was born, whom Pete never saw. They had three more children.
- He was believed to be more spiritual than religious.
- He was politically and environmentally active till his last days. He died peacefully at the age of 94 in January 2014.
- This famous American folk singer and activist, promoted alternative fuel automobiles and owned an electric pick-up truck himself.
|2020||Best Historical Album||Winner|
|2011||Best Musical Album for Children||Winner|
|2009||Best Traditional Folk Album||Winner|
|1997||Best Traditional Folk Album||Winner|
|1993||Lifetime Achievement Award||Winner|
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