Folk Singer and Activist Pete Seeger Dead at 94

Seeger wrote hundreds of songs performed by greats in American Folk Music.

ByABC News
January 28, 2014, 2:38 AM

Jan. 28, 2014— -- Legendary folk singer and activist Pete Seeger has died at age 94.

Seeger’s record label, Appleseed Recordings, released a statement to ABC News confirming his death.

“Nobody is truly gone until all those who are touched or influenced by that person are gone,” Appleseed founder Jim Musselman said in the statement. “So he will live on in the hearts and minds of so many for years to come.”

Seeger's grandson, Kitama Cahill-Jackson said his grandfather died peacefully in his sleep around 9:30 p.m. at New York Presbyterian Hospital, where he had been for six days. Family members were with him.

"He was chopping wood 10 days ago," Cahill-Jackson recalled.

Born in 1919, Seeger was active as a musician from the 1930s to the present, with his music becoming a part of our culture. Seeger wrote hundreds of songs, performed by many of the greats in American Folk Music.

Seeger — with his a lanky frame, banjo and full white beard — performed with the great minstrel Woody Guthrie in his younger days and marched with Occupy Wall Street protesters in his 90s, leaning on two canes. 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 lent his voice against Hitler and nuclear power. A cheerful warrior, he typically delivered his broadsides with an affable air and his banjo strapped on.

Seeger’s career as a mainstream performer with The Weavers was ended by the Red Scare. He was blacklisted and sent to jail for refusing to answer questions about his former ties with the Communist party.

He re-emerged as a pioneer of protest music. His song “We Shall Overcome” became the anthem for the Civil Rights movement. Another song, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” was written in 1962 to protest the Vietnam War – and still resonated four decades later in a concert against the war in Iraq.

Songs, he once said, are weapons, a sentiment spelled out on his banjo, which read, “This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender.”

Seeger did not surrender, continuing as a singer-activist into his later years. Fellow musician Bruce Springsteen said Seeger reawakened “the lost voices” in America.

His latest albums, “A More Perfect Union” and “Pete Remembers Woody,” were released in 2012. He was honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993 and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three years later.

His longtime wife, Toshi, died in July at the age of 91.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.