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Pete Seeger, Iconic Folksinger who Launched His Career in NYC, Dies at 94

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Pete Seeger, the iconic American folksinger whose career took him from Greenwich Village in the 1940s to Madison Square Garden seven decades later, died Monday at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

He was 94 and died of natural causes, said his grandson, Kitama Cahill-Jackson.

Seeger, whose work defined American folk music in the latter part of the 20th century, penned such standards as "If I Had a Hammer" and ”Where Have All the Flowers Gone?"

"We Shall Overcome," which he adapted from an old spiritual, was an anthem of the civil rights movement. In 1965 The Byrds had a No. 1 hit with a folk-rock version of his song, "Turn! Turn! Turn!"

He performed his first songs in Greenwich Village nightclubs in the 1940s, and would go on to inspire a generation of folk artists including Bob Dylan and Don McLean.

In 2011 he participated in the Occupy Wall Street protest, leading a two-mile march through Lower Manhattan at the age of 92.

Seeger's progressive politics landed him on the blacklist in the 1950s and early 1960s, when his music disappeared from radio and TV.

He continued performing at colleges and summer camps, laying part of the groundwork for the explosion of this type of music in the 1960s and beyond.

In 1955, he played Carnegie Hall with The Weavers, an inspiring moment for a young Peter Yarrow.

"You knew where you were going, you knew that there was a way to love the music, but harness it in the way Pete was harnessing it, the Weavers, to make a better world," said Yarrow.

Pete Seeger influenced musicians all over the world. Yarrow would go on to achieve international acclaim with Peter Paul and Mary.

"He was part mentor, he was part father, father figure," said Yarrow.

Long before being "green" was part of the national conversation, Seeger and his wife Toshi began sailing their sloop Clearwater up and down the Hudson River, determined to clean it up by stopping companies and towns from dumping in it.

Bruce Springsteen's 2006 album, "We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions," was a tribute to Seeger's music, and Springsteen was among a star-studded group that celebrated Seeger's 90th birthday at Madison Square Garden in 2009.

He was the recipient of a lifetime achievement Grammy Award, and the National Medal of Arts, the nation's highest arts honor.

Seeger also performed at President Barack Obama's inauguration in 2009, where the crowd sang along to the classic American folk song "This Land is Your Land".

In a statement released Tuesday, the president sent his condolences, saying, "Over the years, Pete used his voice - and his hammer - to strike blows for worker's rights and civil rights; world peace and environmental conservation. And he always invited us to sing along. For reminding us where we come from and showing us where we need to go, we will always be grateful to Pete Seeger." ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP