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Sunday 17 December 2017

Folk singer Pete Seeger dies in US

Folk singer and activist Pete Seeger has died at the age of 94
Folk singer and activist Pete Seeger has died at the age of 94

Musicians and campaigners are among those who have paid tribute to the folk music giant and activist Pete Seeger who has died at the age of 94.

The veteran US performer re-popularised traditional music for a new audience and was known for songs such as If I Had A Hammer, Turn, Turn, Turn and Where Have All The Flowers Gone, as well as fighting tirelessly for a number of causes.

Tom Morello, known for his years with political rock act Rage Against The Machine, said he was "absolutely the best that humans can aspire to be - a courageous, kind, fearless soul".

Bearded, banjo-plucking Seeger, also noted for his performances of the protest anthem We Shall Overcome, stood proudly as a left-winger - and was once a card-carrying Communist - at a time when it was dangerous to express such sympathies in his country.

His views led to him being blacklisted and kept off television for many years during the McCarthy period in the 1950s and he was questioned over his political activities by the Un-American Activities Committee but he denied his views made him disloyal to his country.

"I love my country very dearly, and I greatly resent this implication that some of the places that I have sung and some of the people that I have known, and some of my opinions, whether they are religious or philosophical, or I might be a vegetarian, make me any less of an American," he told the committee.

After dropping out of Harvard, he toured with Woody Guthrie in the 1940s and formed his group The Weavers in 1948. His work influenced many rock stars with a political conscience. Seeger's 90th birthday concert featured Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder and country star Emmylou Harris.

Folk star Cara Dillon described his death as "the passing of a giant", while Kathryn Williams said she was "so sorry" to hear of his death.

Musician Neil Innes said: "We must never forget that he stood for all things Woody Guthrie."

Singer Eddi Reader posted one of his celebrated quotes on Twitter which read: "It's a very important thing to learn to talk to people you disagree with."

Press Association

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