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Little Pete: 1921

    Pete Seeger, Champion of Folk Music and Social Change, Dies at 94
May 23, 1921. Washington, D.C. "Professor Charles Louis Seeger and family." Charles Seeger, wife Constance Edson Seeger and their 2-year-old son Pete, of future folkie fame. National Photo Co. Collection glass negative. View full size.

    Pete Seeger, Champion of Folk Music and Social Change, Dies at 94

May 23, 1921. Washington, D.C. "Professor Charles Louis Seeger and family." Charles Seeger, wife Constance Edson Seeger and their 2-year-old son Pete, of future folkie fame. National Photo Co. Collection glass negative. View full size.


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Bye Pete RIP

Met him once at a folk festival somewhere with my school. He spoke to our group and I remember being mesmerized by his genuine concern for everything good. Then I discovered his music and political social history. Very saddened when he left us.

Dad's laptop

It's a portable pump organ.

Brother Michael

Mike Seeger died in 2009. What a wonderful man. Now Pete is gone. I suppose there's a terrific hoedown in Heaven.

So Long It's Been Good To Know Yah

As his spirit moved onto a plane of existence where men of good conscience and strong convictions go he was heard singing...

So long, it's been good to know yuh;
So long, it's been good to know yuh;
So long, it's been good to know yuh.
This dusty old dust is a-gettin' my home,
And I got to be driftin' along.

If there is a folk singer's heaven I'm sure Pete and Woody are having one heck of a good session and giving all Fascists the proverbial hell.

So long Pete, it really was good to know a man who stood up for his beliefs and never did any violence toward those who opposed him. All he wanted to do was sing his songs.

Check out his stand against the House Of UnAmerican Activities here

Goodnight Irene

No. 1 in 1950 and "On Top of Old Smoky", No. 1 in 1951, were my first exposures to popular music and I treasure the Decca 78 recordings with their backup by Gordon Jenkins Orchestra to this day!

One of a kind

I firmly believed Pete Seeger would live forever. It's hard to imagine the world without him. Fortunately he left millions of fans who will keep his music - and his principles - alive.

Pete's older brothers

Pictured at right are Charles Seeger III, age 8 (born 10-10-1912 and died 8-26-2002 at 89), and John Seeger, age 7 (born 2-16-1914 and died 1-10-2010 at 95). Charles was a pioneer radio astronomer and professor at Cornell University. John was a teacher at the Dalton School in Manhattan and later principal of an Ivy League prep school, Fieldston Lower School in Riverdale, NY.

Grand Old Man

As much as I respected and admired Pete Seeger, I only saw him once in person, and it happened so quickly that it was over in a flash. There was a Maryland Historic Marker dedicated to Mother Jones on Riggs/Powdermill Road in Adelphi, Maryland. I was driving home one afternoon and glanced over to see a small group of people singing a song in front of the newly installed sign. Playing his old banjo, with its warning against hate, was Pete Seeger. There was nowhere to stop or turn in, so I just proceeded the half mile more to our (then) house.

I believe his brother Mike worked or still works at the Library of Congress; one of my guitar-playing pals works or worked for him in audio archiving.

I wore the grooves out out my Pete Seeger vinyl in the mid-1960s; there was magic in those tracks, and I so wanted to catch some of it. He taught us music can be a force for good, when courage matched conviction. Tom Paxton did a lovely tribute on DC radio WTOP this evening about his friend and our friend, Pete.


Just imagine the excitement if someone should discover that little chair.

Thanks, Pete.

Thanks for re-posting this

All politics aside, "songwriter and champion of folk music" says it all. R.I.P., Pete.

We're Not All Trogs

I am one of I hope more than a few West Pointers who found much to admire in Pete Seeger, including his gentle defiance of HUAC. His fidelity to his principles and his environmental activism -- the kind where you actually sometimes get your hands dirty -- placed this humble man on a pedestal far higher than any to which most public figures could ever aspire. When I went back on the faculty in the mid '70s, the Clearwater often birthed at WP's North Dock, and casual visitors were always welcomed aboard. Those who dropped by on the chance that Mr. Seeger would be present found that occasionally to be the case, and his cordiality belied any possibility that he harbored the same antipathy toward the military that many of them presumably harbored for him.

I was never a folkie, however, probably the result of hours spent at a municipal swimming pool in downtown Baltimore when I was seven years old: the juke box seemed permanently stuck on "Goodnight, Irene."

So long, it's been good to know you

Interviewed him about a dozen years ago. We talked about ferry service to Manhattan around the turn of the last century, between takes for a NY State film. I sent him a copy of a map I owned showing the numerous ferry lines. Got a handwritten note thanking me a few days later, signed "Pete" with a cartoon banjo next to it.

Quit That!

My mind persists in thinking Dad's got a laptop perched on top of a crate, though I know it ain't so.

Re: A Big Fan

That's Bob Seger, not Pete Seeger.

[Up till now everyone got the joke. - Dave]

A Big Fan

I'm a big Seeger fan. I especially like "Against the Wind" and "Night Moves."


Old Pete had a strong and lasting influence on me, going back 40 yrs, both musically and politically. Thanks for this baby picture. Just love the Bohemianism of it. My dad, a West Pointer, hated him too, but loved my banjo playing.

Photo whereabouts

The photo is likely in the Library of Congress' American Folklife Collection.

[It's not. As noted in the caption, this photo in the National Photo Company Collection. It would have been taken by Herbert E. French or one of his photographers. - Dave]

A few years ago the Seegers donated films, photos and other stuff to the collection. There are a couple of similar photos from this trip too. They all originated from the Seeger family. More info about Pete at the "Pete Seeger Appreciation Page." And more info about that fabulous, one-of-a-kind Clearwater's Great Hudson River Revival also found by Googling. Thanks for bringing us this photo.

Dear Pete

I wrote a letter to Pete when I was 15 (I'm 37 now) asking him the best way to lengthen the neck on my banjo. He wrote back advising me not to try. A standard length banjo neck is better than a crappy long one. Good advice.

Pete Seeger today

This year's Clearwater Festival Great Hudson River Revival (Father's Day Weekend) will include a 90th birthday celebration and tribute for Pete Seeger.

My daughter's photo of Pete playing his banjo was in last year's festival program. Pete's still going strong at almost 90.....Bless Him!

Thank you for putting this photo up........AMAZING!!!! Love it.

[I hope Pete sees it. I wonder if he knows about this photo. - Dave]

After 50 years, an apology

... in the news just this last month. The San Diego school district that sought to cancel an appearance nearly 50 years ago has issued an appology, and an invitiation to folk legend Pete Seeger. Good on 'ya, Pete.

Ansel Adams had the Zone System... I'm working on the points system. First I points it here, and then I points it there...

A Troglodyte

I'm a life-long conservative who cast his first vote for Barry Goldwater in 1964, and I also voted for George Wallace in 1968. I knew Nixon was going to win, I just wanted him to know how many conservatives there were out here. (Not many at that time!) I also spent most of the "Sixties" in the military, fighting so that Pete's admirers could stay free to burn their draft cards.

That said, I've got many of Pete's albums, most of Joanie Baez's and all of Arlo Guthrie's. On vinyl, of course.

Politics is politics, but talent and good music transcends.

Still can't forgive Jane Fonda, though. She got folks killed.


I saw him at Yale one winter (mid 60's) where he pleased everyone by performing "Guantanamera" as a singalong. Before singing it he explained the lyrics and the story they told. Later on the tune became a hit on the folk charts by other artists.

Must 've been doing something right (or left)

My extreme right-wing father hated him. This was a man who, mind you, voted for George Wallace for president in 1968! The kindest (?) word he ever had for Pete Seeger was "commie."

So a very happy 90th to this living American National Treasure, who irritated every troglodyte who so richly deserved it.

How to become Pete Seeger

The story of the family touring the countryside by motor home is outlined in "How Can I Keep From Singing?" by David King Dunaway, as well as in "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?," the more recent autobiography (to be republished soon), and his "Incomplete Folksinger."

According to the retelling, Charles and Constance wanted to bring "quality" music to the people, so they drove deep into the countryside put on little concerts along the way. Yet when they finished, the people would often say, "Wouldn't you like to hear some of OUR music?

Charles realized that they had more to teach him than the reverse. The experience developed Charles' interest in ethnomusicology, his eventual career. Along the way he took teenage Peter to a folk festival in Asheville and the rest is history.

The oldest son, Charles, a radio astronomer, died in 2002. The middle son, John, is a retired educator.

Pete recently released the Grammy-winning CD "At 89" and is preparing for the annual Clearwater Festival, held along the banks of the Hudson. Woody Guthrie said of him, "Pete Seeger is the youngest man I ever knew."

Pete's brothers

Whatever happened to them?

No clue in this serene scene... the wonderful and tempestuous folk singing career Pete Seeger would have as the Depression crucible forged his world view. As leader of legendary Weavers in the 1940s, and later, as the most extraordinary, if not most controversial, folk voice of the 1960s and beyond, Seeger has indeed rocked the world in his 90 years.

Still Singing

Pete Seeger will turn 90 this May.

A related book recommendation

I just finished the excellent "The Rest is Noise" by Alex Ross. The book discusses Charles Seeger at length and cites him as an influence on many better-known 20th century American composers. A fascinating read.

Still Going Strong...

Pete, of course, is still going as strong as ever in his 90th year up in Beacon, NY, where he has lived for years and has been the driving force for the cleanup of the Hudson River, and the man behind the plan for the sloop Clearwater. I'll always remember his singing of Woodie Guthrie's "This Land" up at the Newport Folk Festival back in the mid-sixties.

A Gifted Violinist

Music and Musicians

Constance Edson Seeger, of New York, a gifted violinist, and niece of Capt. Templin Potts, U.S.N., retired, of Washington, is visiting this city for two weeks with her husband, Prof. Charles Louis Seeger, a distinguished composer. Last night they gave a lecture and violin recital at the Arts club on "The Trend of Modern Music," illustrated by the playing of rare classical masterpieces and equally rare modern work - a vivid clash between seventeenth and twentieth century ideals.

Washington Post, May 22, 1921

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