Immortalizing Joe Hill

  On this date in 1915, IWW organizer Joe Hill (not Jewish) was arrested for murder in Salt Lake City, Utah. His trial was considered a frame-up and his conviction was widely protested (by Woodrow Wilson and Helen Keller, among others). A writer of labor songs and parodies, Hill was immortalized in 1930 in the […]

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June 14: Guitarist with Country Joe and the Fish

Barry “the Fish” Melton, guitarist and co-founder of Country Joe and the Fish and a lifelong progressive activist, was born to a Jewish mother and non-Jewish father (a merchant seaman who shipped out once with Woody Guthrie and Cisco Houston) in Brooklyn on this date in 1947. The band was the most politically radical of […]

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November 16: Photographing Elvis

Alfred Wertheimer, who took some 2,500 unposed photographs of Elvis Presley over the course of ten days in 1956, shortly after Elvis had released “Heartbreak Hotel,” was born in Coburg, Germany on this date in 1929. His family emigrated to New York in 1936 to escape the Nazis. Wertheimer was only 26 when he was […]

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December 28: Sha Na Na

The oldies cover group Sha Na Na headlined Carnegie Hall on this date in 1971, after three years as an opening act at rock venues such as the Fillmore East and the Fillmore West for such groups as the Grateful Dead, the Kinks, and the Mothers of Invention. Six years later, the group’s popularity would […]

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October 10: Dr. Gottlieb and the Limeliters

Louis Gottlieb, bass player and comic lead of the Limeliters, a folk trio that included Alex Hassilev on banjo and Glen Yarbrough on guitar, was born on this date in 1923. Gottlieb was a Ph.D. musicologist (he studied with Arnold Schoenberg) working as an arranger for the Kingston Trio when he met his bandmates in […]

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The Old Left, the New Left, and the Jews

by Henry Srebrnik This past May, I attended a conference on “Jews and the Left” held at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York. Some 240 participants, from as far away as Chile, England, Israel and Lithuania, came to hear papers dealing with Jews in both the old and new lefts of the […]

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August 17: Three Days of Peace and Music

The third and final day of the Woodstock Music and Art Fair took place on this date in 1969 in Bethel, New York, with performances by Country Joe and the Fish, Joe Cocker, Blood, Sweat & Tears, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band (see Jewdayo for July 28), Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and Jimi Hendrix, […]

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February 8: Yasgur's Farm

Dairy farmer Max Yasgur died on this day in 1973, less than four years after hosting the Woodstock Festival of August 15-18, 1969 on his land in Bethel, New York. Yasgur was the largest milk producer in Sullivan County in the 1960s, with 650 cows. Although he was a Republican and supported the Vietnam War, […]

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