Woody Guthrie


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Woody Guthrie was born on July 14, 1912 in Okemah, Oklahoma to Nora and Charley Guthrie.
He grew up with music all through his life. When Woody was a toddler the Guthrie’s' new home burnt down, even before they had a chance to move in. Later, in 1919 his sister Clara burned to death. Eight years later his mother went insane and set her husband, Charley on fire. Afterwards she was sent to the state mental hospital in Norman. When the Woody's dad lost his land holdings, Charley packed up and took his two kids, Mary Jo and George, but left Woody and his older brother Roy to fend for themselves.

Since Woody had to make money on his own he put his musical talent to good use and started singing, dancing, and playing the harmonica and spoons on the streets for spare change. He often lived with family friends in Okemah, or on the streets living a hobo's life. He sometimes had to search trash piles to look for things to sell before meeting back up with his family 1929. His first radio broadcast was in Pampa, where he met his first wife Mary Jennings in 1933 he married her and had three children together.
In 1936 Woody left his family in Pampa and hoboed again to Los Angeles, he met his cousin there, Jack Guthrie, and they formed a musical partnership. They started performing all over town and eventually went on the radio station KFVD. During his journey Woody meet families and people traveling on his trip, while writing songs, and bringing new ones from the people he meet.

Later on Jack left Woody, but Woody met a new singer, Maxine Crissman. Woody soon declared that his new name would be "Lefty Lou." They were so successful together that Woody was able to bring his wife Mary and their kids to Los Angeles in 1937.
In 1939 Woody left Los Angeles dropped his family back off in Pampa and headed to New York. He hitched his way their writing his most famous song "This Land is Your Land" along the way.

On March 3, wood played in a "Grapes of Wrath evening" for John Steinbeck committee for agriculture workers.
Woody was asked to do recordings about his life, songs, and travels. His recordings were put on a 3 disc set and is in the library of congress achieves.
He wrote 28 songs in 30 days for Bonneville power administration.
In 1942 he met Marjorie Marzia a dancer who eventually became his second wife.
He was drafted to the army at the age of 32.
In 1847 his daughter Cathy who was from his second wife Marjorie was killed in an apartment fire.
He went on traveling for a few years and while in California he met Anneke Marshall. He stayed with her and her husband for a few weeks before running away together to Florida.

In 1956 Woody’s third wife Anneke Marshall left him.
Woody fathered at least 8 kids in his life, between his 3 wives, and maybe others that were unacknowledged.
Woody died in 1967, of Huntington's disease after being hospitalized for fifteen years.
Woody had written over 1,400 songs in his lifetime.

By: Courtney Means & Alli McCarty

Works Cited
“Rambling Round: The Life and Times of Woody Guthrie.” The Library of Congress. 2001. 3 March 2009 <http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/wwghtml/wwgessay.html>.

“Woody Guthrie.” American Masters. 2009. 6 March 2009 <http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/database/guthrie_w.html>.