Hellerman formed the Weavers in the late ’40s with fellow folk artists Pete Seeger, Ronnie Gilbert, and Lee Hays. Over the years, they became known for their renditions of standards like “Wimoweh” and “Goodnight, Irene” and their shows, where, in the folk tradition, singing along was encouraged and prevalent.
Their first run was short-lived, though: The band’s members were named communists in Red Channels, an anti-communist text, in the early ’50s and subsequently disallowed from performing. As a result, they broke up in 1952. They were back on stages by the mid-’50s before officially disbanding in 1964 and continued to reunite occasionally up until Hays’ death in 1981.
Aside from his work with the Weavers, Hellerman also wrote songs and played guitar for other artists including Joan Baez and Judy Collins. He’s survived by wife Susan Lardner along with sons Caleb and Simeon.