Fred Hellerman, last surviving member of the Weavers, dies

(CNN)Fred Hellerman, a singer and composer who was the last surviving member of the iconic and influential folk music quartet the Weavers, has died.

The musician passed away on Thursday “after a long run of failing health” and was at “home and surrounded by family” when he died, his son Caleb Hellerman said on his Facebook page.


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Fred Hellerman was 89 and lived in Weston, Connecticut.
Hellerman, Pete Seeger, Ronnie Gilbert and Lee Hays formed the Weavers in the late 1940s and recorded many folk standards, such as “If I Had a Hammer,” “On Top of Old Smoky,” “Goodnight, Irene,” “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” (also known as “Wimoweh”) and “Tzena, Tzena, Tzena,”
Hellerman played guitar and sang for the group, which set the stage for a folk music wave in the 1950s and 1960s.


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Yiddish theater spurs love of music

Born in Brooklyn on May 13, 1927, Hellerman “first displayed his love for music by collaborating on stage plays in the Yiddish theater,” WCBS said, citing Hellerman’s son.
He attended Brooklyn College and served in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II, according to the Internet Movie Database. His bio said he taught himself to play guitar during his Coast Guard stint.
Hellerman was an arranger and songwriter for other performers. He produced Arlo Guthrie’s 1967 record “Alice’s Restaurant.”
There won’t be a funeral but a memorial service — with music — will be held in the next few months, Hellerman’s son said.
Gilbert died on June 6, 2015; Seeger on January 27, 2014; and Hays on August 26, 1981.

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