Springsteen introduced Seeger on his 90th birthday as "a living archive of America's music and conscience, a testament of the power of song and culture to nudge history along."
Pete Seeger died Monday at the age of 94 of natural causes. He lived most of his life in rural, upstate New York.
Rock music enthusiasts will remember Seeger for penning the Byrds number one hit of 1965 "Turn, Turn, Turn" (based on biblical passages). Other notable hits written and performed by Seeger (and countless others) were anti-war tunes "Where Have All The Flowers Gone?", "If I Had A Hammer", and "We Shall Overcome".
Seeger played 12-string acoustic guitar and the banjo. He toured with Woody Guthrie in the 1940's, founded the folk group The Weavers in the 1950's and started the Newport Folk Festival in the 1960's.
Seeger endured controversy throughout his life. Branded as a communist and censored from American television for decades, he focused most of that era on raising awareness for environmental causes.
He was elected to the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972, and in 1993 he was given a lifetime achievement Grammy Award. In 1994, President Bill Clinton handed him the National Medal of Arts, America’s highest arts honor. In 1999, he traveled to Cuba to receive the Order of Félix Varela, Cuba’s highest cultural award, for his “humanistic and artistic work in defense of the environment and against racism.”
In 1996, Seeger was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as an early influence. Arlo Guthrie, who paid tribute at the ceremony, mentioned that the Weavers’ hit “Goodnight, Irene” reached No. 1, but added, “I can’t think of a single event in Pete’s life that is probably less important to him.”
Seeger did not make an acceptance speech, but instead , led a singalong of “Goodnight, Irene,” flanked by Stevie Wonder, David Byrne and members of the Jefferson Airplane.