Peter Seeger (born May 3, 1919), almost always known as Pete Seeger, is a folk singer, political activist and major contributor to folk and protest music in 1950s and 1960s. His father Charles Seeger was a musicologist and an early investigator of non-Western music. His siblings Mike Seeger and Peggy Seeger also had notable musical careers.

He first met many important musicians such as Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly during the late 1930s and early 1940s after dropping out of Harvard, where he was studying sociology.

He was a founding member of the folk groups The Almanac Singers and The Weavers. The Weavers had major hits in the early 1950s, before being blacklisted in the McCarthy Era.

Pete Seeger started a solo career in 1958 (see 1958 in music), and is known for songs such as "If I Had a Hammer" (co-written with Lee Hays), "Turn, Turn, Turn" (adapted from Ecclesiastes), and "We Shall Overcome" (based on a spiritual).

In he 1960s, Seeger wrote the first version of his now-classic "How to Play the Five-String Banjo", a book that many banjo players credit with starting them off on the instrument.

Pete Seeger is involved in the Clearwater group, which he helped found in 1966. This organization has worked since then to highlight pollution in the Hudson River and work at getting it cleaned up. As part of that effort, the sloop Clearwater was launched in 1969 and regularly sails the river as a classroom, stage and laboratory.

Pete Seeger is also well known for his communist political beliefs.


  • I like to say I'm more conservative than Goldwater. He just wanted to turn the clock back to when there was no income tax. I want to turn the clock back to when people lived in small villages and took care of each other.

  • My father, Charles Seeger, got me into the Communist movement. He backed out around '38. I drifted out in the 50's. I apologize [in his recent book] for following the party line so slavishly, for not seeing that Stalin was a supremely cruel misleader.

  • I still call myself a communist, because communism is no more what Russia made of it than Christianity is what the churches make of it. But if by some freak of history communism had caught up with this country, I would have been one of the first people thrown in jail.

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