My history hero: Woody Guthrie

"The fate of the poor in the Great Depression made a deep impression on him, and it was society's lack of fairness that drove much of what he did in his career, inspiring many of his finest songs": Billy Bragg tells York Membery why Woody Guthrie is his history hero

Photo of Woody Guthrie c1970. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

This article was first published in the Christmas 2016 issue of BBC History Magazine 

Born in Okemah, Oklahoma, Woody Guthrie became a radical American singer-songwriter. Best known for writing ‘This Land is Your Land’, his songs about migrant workers of the Great Depression earned him the nickname ‘Dust Bowl Troubadour’. Associated with leftwing causes throughout his life, in the 1960s he inspired a new generation of folk singers, most notably Bob Dylan. Married three times, he fathered eight children before dying at the age of 55 from complications arising from Huntington’s disease, an inherited neurological disorder.

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