An outgrowth of Hays and Seeger's Almanac Singers
, but with less outright politically inspired songs. They brought folk music
to the top of the hit parade
. Inspired many of the folk revival groups of the 1960s
, like The Kingston Trio
and Peter, Paul and Mary
. You can blame them for the introduction of "Wimoweh
(The Lion Sleeps Tonight)" into American pop
music. Formed in 1948
Today, they are mostly remembered for being victims of the anti-Communist hysteria of the 1950s. They were the first musical group in American history to be investigated for sedition, under the Internal Security Act of 1950. When Seeger's name appeared in Red Channels, a pamphlet identifying left-wing entertainers, radio stopped playing their songs (which had been very popular--their rendition of Leadbelly's "Goodnight, Irene was on the hit parade for six months). Fingered before the House Un-American Activities Committee for being Communist, the group was never called before the Committee but nonetheless fell victim to the Blacklist. With difficulty getting engagements either in person or on television, the band broke up in 1952.
They reassembled in 1955 for a sold out reunion concert at Carnegie Hall and continued playing as a group together until 1963. Seeger dropped out in 1957 to pursue a solo career, he was replaced by successive banjo players Erik Darling, Frank Hamilton and Bernie Krause. The original four assembled again in 1980 for a reunion concert documented in the film, Wasn't That a Time?