102 Facts About Woody Guthrie


Woodrow Wilson Guthrie was an American singer-songwriter, one of the most significant figures in American folk music.


Woody Guthrie's work focused on themes of American socialism and anti-fascism.


Woody Guthrie inspired several generations both politically and musically with songs such as "This Land Is Your Land".


Woody Guthrie wrote hundreds of country, folk, and children's songs, along with ballads and improvised works.


Woody Guthrie frequently performed with the message "This machine kills fascists" displayed on his guitar.


Woody Guthrie was brought up by middle-class parents in Okemah, Oklahoma.


Woody Guthrie married at 19, but with the advent of the dust storms that marked the Dust Bowl period, he left his wife and three children to join the thousands of Okies who were migrating to California looking for employment.

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Woody Guthrie worked at Los Angeles radio station KFVD, achieving some fame from playing hillbilly music, made friends with Will Geer and John Steinbeck, and wrote a column for the communist newspaper People's World from May 1939 to January 1940.


Woody Guthrie left the station, ending up in New York, where he wrote and recorded his 1940 album Dust Bowl Ballads, based on his experiences during the 1930s, which earned him the nickname the "Dust Bowl Troubadour".


Woody Guthrie said it was a response to what he felt was the overplaying of Irving Berlin's "God Bless America" on the radio.


Woody Guthrie was born July 14,1912, in Okemah, a small town in Okfuskee County, Oklahoma, the son of Nora Belle and Charles Edward Woody Guthrie.


Woody Guthrie's parents named him after Woodrow Wilson, then Governor of New Jersey and the Democratic candidate who was elected as President of the United States in fall 1912.


Charles Woody Guthrie was an industrious businessman, owning at one time up to of land in Okfuskee County.


Woody Guthrie was actively involved in Oklahoma politics and was a conservative Democratic candidate for office in the county.


Charles Guthrie was reportedly involved in the 1911 lynching of Laura and L D Nelson.


Woody Guthrie said that his father, Charles, became a member of the Ku Klux Klan during its revival beginning in 1915.


When Woody Guthrie was seven, his sister Clara died after setting her clothes on fire during an argument with her mother, and, later, in 1927, their father was severely burned in a fire at home.


When Woody Guthrie was 14, Nora was committed to the Oklahoma Hospital for the Insane.


The 14-year-old Woody Guthrie worked odd jobs around Okemah, begging meals and sometimes sleeping at the homes of family friends.


Woody Guthrie had a natural affinity for music, learning old ballads and traditional English and Scottish songs from the parents of friends.


Woody Guthrie befriended an African-American shoeshine boy named George, who played blues on his harmonica.


Woody Guthrie was an avid reader on a wide range of topics.


In 1929, Guthrie's father sent for Woody to join him in Texas, but little changed for the aspiring musician.


Woody Guthrie regularly played at dances with his father's half-brother Jeff Guthrie, a fiddle player.


Woody Guthrie's mother died in 1930 of complications of Huntington's disease while still in the Oklahoma Hospital for the Insane.

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At age 20, Woody Guthrie met and married his first wife, Mary Jennings, in Texas in 1931.


Woody Guthrie married twice more, to Marjorie Greenblatt, and Anneke Van Kirk, having a total of eight children.


Woody Guthrie was making enough money to send for his family to join him from Texas.


Robbin was impressed with a song Woody Guthrie wrote about political activist Thomas Mooney, wrongly convicted in a case that was a cause celebre of the time.


Woody Guthrie wrote a column for the communist newspaper, People's World.


Woody Guthrie wrote the columns in an exaggerated hillbilly dialect and usually included a small comic.


Woody Guthrie was a writer who lived in very political times.


Woody Guthrie adapted the melody from an old gospel song, "Oh My Loving Brother", which had been adapted by the country group the Carter Family for their song "Little Darling Pal Of Mine".


In March 1940, Woody Guthrie was invited to play at a benefit hosted by the John Steinbeck Committee to Aid Farm Workers, to raise money for migrant workers.


Woody Guthrie recalled an awkward conversation with Mary Guthrie's mother, in which she asked for Seeger's help to persuade Guthrie to treat her daughter better.


Woody Guthrie had some success in New York at this time as a guest on CBS's radio program Back Where I Come From and used his influence to get a spot on the show for his friend Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter.


The meeting led to Woody Guthrie writing the article "Ear Players" in the Spring 1942 issue of the magazine.


In September 1940, Woody Guthrie was invited by the Model Tobacco Company to host their radio program Pipe Smoking Time.


Woody Guthrie was paid $180 a week, an impressive salary in 1940.


Woody Guthrie was finally making enough money to send regular payments back to Mary.


Woody Guthrie brought her and the children to New York, where the family lived briefly in an apartment on Central Park West.


Disgruntled with New York, Woody Guthrie packed up Mary and his children in a new car and headed west to California.


Woody Guthrie provided live music for the performance, which featured Maslow and her New Dance Group.


In May 1941, after a brief stay in Los Angeles, Woody Guthrie moved to Portland, Oregon, in the neighborhood of Lents, on the promise of a job.


Alan Lomax had recommended Woody Guthrie to narrate the film and sing songs onscreen.

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Woody Guthrie said he "couldn't believe it, it's a paradise", which appeared to inspire him creatively.


Tired of the continual uprooting, Mary Woody Guthrie told him to go without her and the children.


Woody Guthrie returned to New York with plans to tour the country as a member of the group.


The singers originally worked out of a loft in New York City hosting regular concerts called "hootenannies", a word Pete and Woody Guthrie had picked up in their cross-country travels.


Songs written in the Almanac House had shared songwriting credits among all the members, although in the case of "Union Maid", members would later state that Woody Guthrie wrote the song, ensuring that his children would receive residuals.


Woody Guthrie routinely emphasized his working-class image, rejected songs he felt were not in the country blues vein he was familiar with, and rarely contributed to household chores.


House member Agnes "Sis" Cunningham, another Okie, would later recall that Woody Guthrie "loved people to think of him as a real working class person and not an intellectual".


Woody Guthrie contributed songwriting and authenticity in much the same capacity for Pete Seeger's post-Almanac Singers project People's Songs, a newsletter and booking organization for labor singers, founded in 1945.


Woody Guthrie was a prolific writer, penning thousands of pages of unpublished poems and prose, many written while living in New York City.


Woody Guthrie continued to write songs and began work on his autobiography.


In 1944, Woody Guthrie met Moses "Moe" Asch of Folkways Records, for whom he first recorded "This Land Is Your Land".


Woody Guthrie believed performing his anti-fascist songs and poems in the United States was the best use of his talents.


For entertainment on CIO episodes, De Caux asked singer and songwriter Woody Guthrie to contribute to the show.


Woody Guthrie consented and performed solo two or three times on this program.


Merchant Marine: Woody Guthrie lobbied the United States Army to accept him as a USO performer instead of conscripting him as a soldier in the draft.


When Woody Guthrie's attempts failed, his friends Cisco Houston and Jim Longhi persuaded the singer to join the US Merchant Marine in June 1943.


Woody Guthrie made several voyages aboard merchant ships SS William B Travis, SS William Floyd, and SS Sea Porpoise, while they traveled in convoys during the Battle of the Atlantic.


Woody Guthrie served as a mess man and dishwasher, and frequently sang for the crew and troops to buoy their spirits on transatlantic voyages.


Woody Guthrie was aboard when the ship was torpedoed off Utah Beach by the German submarine U-390 on July 5,1944, injuring 12 of the crew.


Woody Guthrie was unhurt and the ship stayed afloat; it returned to England, where it was repaired at Newcastle.

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Woody Guthrie was an active supporter of the National Maritime Union, one of many unions for wartime American merchant sailors.


Woody Guthrie wrote songs about his experience in the Merchant Marine but was never satisfied with them.


Cathy died as a result of a fire at the age of four, and Woody Guthrie suffered a serious depression from his grief.


When his family was young, Woody Guthrie wrote and recorded Songs to Grow on for Mother and Child, a collection of children's music, which includes the song "Goodnight Little Arlo ", written when Arlo was about nine years old.


Woody Guthrie was a prolific sketcher and painter, his images ranging from simple, impressionistic images to free and characterful drawings, typically of the people in his songs.


In 1949, Woody Guthrie's music was used in the documentary film Columbia River, which explored government dams and hydroelectric projects on the river.


Woody Guthrie had been commissioned by the US Bonneville Power Administration in 1941 to write songs for the project, but it had been postponed by World War II.


Woody Guthrie was inspired by the singer's idiomatic performance style and repertoire.


Woody Guthrie's arm was hurt in an accident when gasoline used to start the campfire exploded.


In 1954, the couple returned to New York, living in the Beach Haven apartment complex owned and operated by Fred Trump in Gravesend, Brooklyn; Woody Guthrie composed there the song Old Man Trump.


Woody Guthrie died in a car accident in California in 1973 at the age of 19.


Increasingly unable to control his muscles, Woody Guthrie was hospitalized at Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in Morris County, New Jersey, from 1956 to 1961; at Brooklyn State Hospital in East Flatbush until 1966; and finally at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens Village, New York, until his death in 1967.


None of Woody Guthrie's three surviving children with Marjorie have developed symptoms of Huntington's.


Woody Guthrie died at Creedmore State Hospital of complications of Huntington's disease on October 3,1967.


Woody Guthrie is the grandfather of musician Sarah Lee Guthrie, the youngest daughter of Arlo.


Klein says that Woody Guthrie applied to join the Communist Party, but his application was turned down.


Unlike his musical protege, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie never offered any regret for his Stalinism.


Woody Guthrie's attitude switched again in 1941 after the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union.


The Woody Guthrie Foundation is a non-profit organization that serves as administrator and caretaker of the Woody Guthrie Archives.


The archives contains thousands of items related to Woody Guthrie, including original artwork, books, correspondence, lyrics, manuscripts, media, notebooks, periodicals, personal papers, photographs, scrapbooks, and other special collections.

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Woody Guthrie's unrecorded written lyrics housed at the archives have been the starting point of several albums including the Wilco and Billy Bragg albums Mermaid Avenue and Mermaid Avenue Vol.


Jonatha Brooke's 2008 album, The Works, includes lyrics from the Woody Guthrie Archives set to music by Jonatha Brooke.


The various artists compilation Note of Hope: A Celebration of Woody Guthrie was released in 2011.


The Woody Guthrie Coalition commissioned a local Creek Indian sculptor to cast a full-body bronze statue of Guthrie and his guitar, complete with the guitar's well-known message reading, "This machine kills fascists".


Woody Guthrie's second wife, Marjorie Mazia was born Marjorie Greenblatt and her mother Aliza Greenblatt was a well-known Yiddish poet.


Woody Guthrie wrote numerous Jewish lyrics which can be linked to his close collaborative relationship with Aliza Greenblatt who lived near Woody Guthrie and his family in Brooklyn in the 1940s.


Woody Guthrie was inspired to write songs that arose from this unlikely relationship; he identified the problems of Jews with those of his fellow Okies and other oppressed peoples.


In 1979, Sammy Walker's LP Songs From Woody Guthrie's Pen was released by Folkways Records.


In 2003, Jimmy LaFave produced a Woody Guthrie tribute show called Ribbon of Highway, Endless Skyway.


The abbreviated show was a featured segment of Nashville Sings Woody, yet another tribute concert to commemorate the music of Woody Guthrie held during the Folk Alliance Conference.


Woody and Marjorie Guthrie were honored at a musical celebration featuring Billy Bragg and the band Brad on October 17,2007 at Webster Hall in New York City.


The fictional Woody Guthrie reflects the fictitious autobiographies that Dylan constructed during his early career as he established his own artistic identity.


Pete Seeger had the Sloop Woody Guthrie built for an organization he founded, the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater.


In 1988, Woody Guthrie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and, in 2000, he was honored with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.


Woody Guthrie was inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame in 1997.


In 2006, Woody Guthrie was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.


Less than two years later, Woody Guthrie was again nominated for a Grammy in the same category with the 2009 release of My Dusty Road on Rounder Records.