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Legendary singer Pete Seeger dies at 94

January 28, 2014 14:21 IST

Legendary singer Pete Seeger dies at 94

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Rediff Entertainment Bureau in Mumbai

Legendary American folk singer and activist Pete Seeger, 94, passed away in New York on Monday, January 27. We take a look at his extraordinary life and works. 

You probably know Pete Seeger, the legendary American singer-activist who died on Monday, even if you have not heard or seen him sing.

He popularised the song that has probably been sung at every political protest since the 1960s -- We shall overcome.

He was 94, and he sang with legends like Woody Guthrie, the quintessential Americana singer who was Bob Dylan’s idol.

And Seeger even lent his voice to the Occupy Wall Street protests raging across the US as the first decade of the new millennium drew to a close.


Read about Pete Seeger's life here.


Image: Musician Pete Seeger sings Amazing Grace during a concert celebrating his 90th birthday in New York May 3, 2009
Photographs: Lucas Jackson / Reuters

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His songs have been anthems to generations.

From the Vietnam-war lament Where have all the flowers gone to Turn, Turn, Turn -- the latter most remembered as a song by The Byrds (the Byrds’ version has been featured in films including Forrest Gump).

A lifelong leftist, Seeger once faced a Congressional inquiry and blacked out from US television during the McCarthy era of the American political witch-hunt against Communists in the 1950s.

Seeger had the last laugh, he sang before Barack Obama’s inaugural as US president.


Image: Pete Seeger sings the popular Cuban song La Guantanamera with verses dedicated to Cuban hero Jose Mati
Photographs: Rafael Perez / Reuters

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He remained an activist till the end.

In 1988, he blocked traffic on an upstate New York road when a black girl’s complaint of being raped by white men was overturned.

Seeger performed in India at least on two occasions, one in 1963 and once in the late 1990s, and though he was well past his prime as a singer, his concerts in Kolkata were sold out and featured the now politician Kabir Suman.


Image: Pete Seeger performs at the 2009 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize special outdoor tribute at Hunts Point Riverside Park on September 3, 2009 in New York City
Photographs: Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

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In the concert at the Academy of Fine Arts in Calcutta in 1963, Seeger sang Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite bhajan, Raghupati Raghva Raja Ram (external link). 

And when Seeger sang Guantanamera at Nazrul Manch in Kolkata in the ‘90s, his voice was drowned by thousands of voices singing along.


Image: Musician Joan Baez, Bruce Springsteen and Pete Seeger appear onstage at the Clearwater Benefit Concert Celebrating Pete Seeger's 90th Birthday at Madison Square Garden on May 3, 2009 in New York City
Photographs: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

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