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Woody Guthrie

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Okemah OK, United States (1912 – 1967)

Woodrow Wilson “Woody” Guthrie (July 14, 1912–October 3, 1967) was an American songwriter and musician. Guthrie’s musical legacy consists of hundreds of songs, ballads and improvised works covering topics from political themes to traditional songs to children’s songs. Guthrie performed continually throughout his life with his guitar frequently displaying the slogan “This Machine Kills Fascists”. Guthrie is perhaps best known for his song “This Land Is Your Land”, which is regularly sung in American schools. Many of his recorded songs are archived in the Library of Congress.

Guthrie traveled with migrant workers from Oklahoma to California and learned traditional folk and songs. His songs are about his experiences in the Dust Bowl era during the Great Depression and he is known as the “Dust Bowl Troubadour.” Guthrie was associated with, but never a member of, Communist groups in the United States throughout his life.

Guthrie was married three times and fathered eight children, including American folk musician Arlo Guthrie. He is the grandfather of musician Sarah Lee Guthrie. Guthrie died from complications of the degenerative neurologic affliction known as Huntington’s Disease. In spite of his illness, during his later years Guthrie served as a figurehead in the folk movement providing inspiration to a generation of new folk musicians, including mentor relationships with Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and Bob Dylan.

Early life: 1912–1930

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