Music icon Pete Seeger, who is largely regarded as the forerunner of the modern folk movement, died Monday. He was 94.

Pete Seeger Dies

Seeger passed away of natural causes at New York Presbyterian Hospital, his grandson Kitama Cahill Jackson told CNN.

Seeger was famous – and infamous – throughout his career for his politically driven activist messages that were woven throughout his music. He's best known for songs such as “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season)" and "If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)" and the pointedly antiwar “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”

"He lived at a time when so many things hadn't been done yet, the idea of making music about something hadn't really been done," his grandson Jackson noted. "And now people do it all the time."

After getting his start playing in college classrooms, Seeger’s career eventually took off and saw him playing at folk festivals around the country. Due to his political ideals in the 40s and 50s, Seeger was convicted of contempt of Congress. In 2009, at President Barack Obama’s first inauguration, Seeger was invited to Washington, D.C., to sing “This Land Is Your Land” on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with Bruce Springsteen.

Throughout his career, Seeger not only sang about activism, but also took an active role in the causes in which he believed. Born in New York, one of the causes he was most passionate about was cleaning up the Hudson River. Outside of the local sphere, Seeger took up the labor movement, civil rights, antiwar causes and more.

“My job,” Seeger said in 2009, according to The New York Times, “is to show folks there’s a lot of good music in this world, and if used right it may help to save the planet.”

Among the many artists Seeger inspired were Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Don McLean and Joan Baez. Seeger himself, a son of a musicologist father and concert violinist mother, was inspired by Woody Guthrie, whose son Arlo he worked with in later years.

Seeger was predeceased by his wife Toshi in 2013. He is survived by his son Daniel, daughters Mika and Tinya and six grandchildren, including Jackson.

– Chelsea Regan

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