The 55th Anniversary of Woody Guthrie's Death
On this day October 3, in 1967, Woody Guthrie, a pioneer of the 1950s folk revival movement, died following a 12-year hospitalization for the genetic disorder Huntington’s disease. It has been fifty-five years since the death of Woody Guthrie, but the folk singer’s songs and messages are alive as ever.
Woodrow Wilson Guthrie, was a native of Okemah, Oklahoma, he was born on July 14, 1912. An accomplished, self-taught musician, Woody Guthrie began writing music following his experiences traveling west to California with other Dust Bowl refugees in the 1930s. He moved to New York in 1939 and made a series of landmark recordings for Alan Lomax of the Library of Congress as well as the album Dust Bowl Ballads. In 1940 he wrote the famous work, "This Land is Your Land". Guthrie completed over 3,000 songs in his lifetime including "Pastures of Plenty", "So Long It’s Been Good To Know Yuh", "Hard Travelin'", and many more.
Over the decades, Guthrie's songs have become the folk song standards of the nation, and are known and performed in many languages throughout the world. Guthrie's compositions laid the groundwork for the great folk revival of the 1950s and 60s, “This Land is Your Land” and “Do Re Mi” are among the thousands of Guthrie songs that inspired generations, including Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, and Bruce Springsteen. Today Guthrie's work and messages are honored and presented by artists like Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Dolly Parton, and many more.
Woody Guthrie passed away at the age of 55 from Huntington's Disease, before he passed his wife Marjorie promised him that she would devote her life to finding answers. She founded the Huntington’s Disease Society of America (HDSA), in 1972, a premier nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of everyone affected by Huntington’s disease. Today, Woody’s life and legacy continue under the stewardship of Nora and Anna Guthrie, the Guthrie family, and the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa, OK.