Folk music singer, collector, promotor and revivalist Mike Seeger died last Friday at his home in Lexington, Virginia, of multiple myeloma, a kind of blood cancer. He was 75 years old and is shown above with his future wife Alice Gerrard. Seeger formed the New Lost City Ramblers in 1958 as one of the first of many folk song revivalist bands. “That group revived songs of forerunners such as Charlie Poole, Uncle Dave Macon and The Carter Family without applying the mainstream gloss of many folk boom-era acts, and Seeger’s enthusiasm for music that many had considered archaic or quaint was both a lesson and an inspiration for young acoustic acts in the ‘60s, including Bob Dylan and Loudon Wainwright III,” wrote Peter Cooper in the Nashville Tennessean.
Seeger — the half brother of Pete Seeger — was also a record producer. He sought out and then recorded Dock Boggs, a banjo player in southwestern Virginia who had not played actively in decades. He recorded and produced American Banjo, Scruggs Style in 1957, which was the first bluegrass long-playing album released. More recently, he played autoharp on a song included the Grammy-winning album Raising Sand, by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss.
“Although only eight years his junior, Mr. Dylan called Mr. Seeger a father figure — for helping the under-age Mr. Dylan with his paperwork — and rhapsodized about him as the embodiment of a folk-star persona,” wrote Ben Sisario in the New York Times. “Mike was unprecedented,” Dylan wrote. “As for being a folk musician, he was the supreme archetype. He could push a stake through Dracula’s black heart. He was the romantic, egalitarian and revolutionary type all at once.”