January 29, 2014

By Joe Hennes

Remembering Pete Seeger

Folk singer and songwriter Pete Seeger has passed away this week at the age of 94.  While he was regarded as a pioneer of folk music, having written classics like “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” “Turn, Turn, Turn,” and “If I Had a Hammer,” he will also be remembered for his many appearances in the early years of Sesame Street.

His first appearance was in the first season, in which he sang several songs like “Skip to my Lou” and “John Henry.”  Through the next six years, Seeger would periodically show up on the street with his banjo to perform more songs for the kids.  In one case, his car broke down near Sesame Street, so rather than call AAA, he took it as an opportunity to make more music.

In 1974, Seeger was joined by Frederic Douglass Kirkpatrick for “Pete Seeger & Brother Kirk Visit Sesame Street,” an album featuring traditional and contemporary folk songs, accompanied by Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch.

Pete Seeger returned to Sesame Street in the late 1980s for a very brief cameo in a very memorable video.  He joined such legends as Paul Simon, Madeline Kahn, and John Candy in the classic “Put Down the Duckie.”

In 2009, Oscar the Grouch returned the favor by appearing at Pete Seeger’s 90th birthday celebration at Carnegie Hall, singing Seeger’s song “Garbage”.

Pete Seeger had a strong connection to Sesame Street’s long history, and he was responsible for introducing many children to the joy of folk music.  We are proud to count him among the celebrities who helped make Sesame Street the show that it is today.

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