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Grateful Memories of Two Banjo Players Named Pete

Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen at Lincoln Memorial 2009
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

This week we lost two great people who were both banjo players and both named Pete.

A Tribute to Pete
Pete Seeger passed away on Monday, January 27, at the age of 94 and Pete Mergard, a local musician with BeatGrass, died Thursday, January 23, at 58.

Seeger devoted a lot of his time helping other people learn how to play. He even wrote ‘How to Play the 5-String Banjo.’ He helped start Bob Dylan’s career by convincing John Hammond to produce his debut album and got Dylan a spot on the Newport Folk Festival lineup where he famously ‘went electric.’

The Byrds recorded Seeger’s ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’ based on the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible and Bruce Springsteen paid tribute to Seeger with his 2006 release ‘We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions.’

Pete Mergard of BeatGrass 2013
Mike Rorabeck/Townsquare Media

A Tribute to the Other Pete
Pete Mergard, AKA Uncle Pete, was born in Frankfurt, Germany and grew up in Covington, Kentucky before moving to Cheyenne in 1980. Pete was the owner of Cheyenne Metal Polishing and the banjo player in the local bluegrass band BeatGrass.

A celebration of Pete Mergard’s life will be hosted by his family and BeatGrass on Saturday, February 1, starting at 2 p.m. at the family shop, 3304 Gregg Way.

Luckily both of these banjo players left behind recordings to remember them by and many fond memories.

Seeger devoted much of his career to helping others learn how to play, perhaps most notably through his classic introductory text ‘How to Play the Five-String Banjo.’ He’s also credited with inventing a longer-necked variation on the instrument, dubbed the ‘Seeger Banjo,’Read More: Legendary Folk Singer Pete Seeger Dies at 94 |

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