Lee Hays

Born Mar 14, 1914

Lee Hays, was an American folk-singer and songwriter, best known for singing bass with The Weavers. Throughout his life, he was concerned with overcoming racism, inequality, and violence in society. Hays wrote or co-wrote "Wasn't That a Time?", "If I Had a Hammer, "and "Kisses Sweeter than Wine", which became Weavers' staples. He also familiarized audiences with songs of the 1930s labor movement, such as "We Shall Not be Moved".… Read More

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1914 Birth Born on March 14, 1914.


1927 13 Years Old In 1927, when Lee was thirteen, his childhood came to an abrupt end as tragedy struck the family. … Read More
1929 15 Years Old He traveled alone to enroll at Hendrix-Henderson College (now Henderson State University) in Arkansas, the Methodist school that his father and siblings had attended, but the expense of their mother's institutionalization and the effects of the Wall Street Crash of 1929 meant that college tuition money was not available for Lee. … Read More
1930 16 Years Old His brothers, both recently married, sent him to Emory Junior College in Georgia from which he graduated in 1930 at sixteen (but already over six feet tall and looking much older than his years).
1932 18 Years Old In 1932, Hays moved out of his brother's house into a room at the Cleveland YMCA, where he stayed for two years. … Read More


1934 20 Years Old From 1934 to 1940, writes Doris Willens, "Williams was the dominant figure in Hays' life - a surrogate father - a man of the cloth but with a radical difference". … Read More
1937 23 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1937, when Claude Williams was appointed director of Commonwealth College in Mena Arkansas, a labor organizing school, he hired Lee Hays to direct a theater program. … Read More
1939 25 Years Old That the pact gave Stalin more time was the story then put out; millions around the world didn’t buy it part because of Stalin’s 1939 attack on Finland and at that point lost faith in the Soviet Union... (Many others had lost faith earlier, during the Moscow purge trials.) But as a disciple of Claude Williams, Lee in 1940 held firm with those who continued to believe that America and Britain were maneuvering not to defeat Nazi Germany, or rather, not just yet, but first to turn Hitler to their desired end of destroying the Soviet Union.. … Read More
1940 26 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1940 the board expelled the avowedly Marxist Claude Williams for allegedly allowing Communist infiltration and for being excessively preoccupied with the issue of racial discrimination, and soon after, the institution was disbanded. … Read More
1941 27 Years Old The Almanac's first album, issued in May 1941, was the controversial Songs for John Doe, comprising six pacifist songs, two of them co-written by Hays and Seeger and four by Lampell. … Read More


1946 - 1948 2 More Events
1949 35 Years Old In 1949 the new quartet began appearing at leftist functions and soon they were featured on Oscar Brand's WNYC radio show as "The No Name Quartet". Four months later they settled on a name: The Weavers. box People's Artists sponsored the concert given by Paul Robeson and classical pianists Leonid Hambro and Ray Lev in Peekskill, NY, that sparked the Peekskill Riots on September 4, 1949. … Read More
1952 38 Years Old Their records dropped from Decca's catalog and from radio broadcasts, and unable to perform live on television, radio, or in most music venues, The Weavers broke up in 1952. … Read More
1953 39 Years Old In 1953, Hays' mother, whom he had seen only once since her entry into custodial care, died.


1955 41 Years Old In 1955 he was subpoenaed by the House Committee on Un-American Activities: he declined to testify, pleading the Fifth Amendment. 1955 was also the year of a sold-out Weavers Carnegie Hall reunion concert. … Read More
1958 44 Years Old In 1958, Hays began recording a series of children's albums with The Baby Sitters, a group that included a young Alan Arkin, the son of a family friend of the Robinsons. … Read More
1960 46 Years Old 1 More Event
At the insistence of his old friend Woody's son, Arlo Guthrie, however, he did appear, playing himself as a preacher at a 1960 evangelical meeting, in the film Alice's Restaurant (1969), based on Arlo's hit song of that name.


1980 66 Years Old His bad health notwithstanding, Hays performed in several Weavers reunion concerts, the last of which was in November 1980 at New York City's Carnegie Hall.
1981 67 Years Old 1 More Event
His last public performance with the group took place in June 1981 at the Hudson River Revival in Croton Point Park. … Read More
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