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Pete Seeger, “Fifth Face on Mount Rushmore”: In Memoriam

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
February 10th, 2014

The recent passing of folk singer Pete Seeger on January 27, 2014 is commanding the attention of media everywhere, including the New York Times (with a reminiscence by Neil Young), The Los Angeles Times, Rolling Stone, and countless other news outlets, big and small.  This is what we expect when a figure of iconic significance is no longer with us.  The folk musician Paul Metsa, who performed with Seeger at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as part of a Woody Guthrie tribute, said he should be the “fifth face on Mount Rushmore.”

Born in 1919, Seeger became a member of two influential folk groups, the Almanac Singers in 1941 and the Weavers in 1950.  The latter group had a string of hit recordings in the early 50s, including the highly successful “Goodnight, Irene.”

He later traveled the college circuit in the late 50s and 60s, during the era of the folk music revival, including a stop at West Virginia University in 1966 to perform at the “Festival of Ideas,” a tradition that has since been revived here on campus.

Handbill Regarding Pete Seeger Performance

Handbill advertising Pete Seeger’s appearance at WVU in 1966.

Fortunately, Seeger’s appearance at WVU was filmed, thus documenting the charismatic aura typical of his performances, and suggesting why he may be that “fifth face on Mount Rushmore.”

Video of Pete Seeger at WVU Festival of Ideas, October 8, 1966

Blog post by Michael Ridderbusch, Associate Curator, WVRHC.

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