RIP Irwin Silber

Public memorials will be held in December or January for folklorist and leftist intellectual Irwin Silber who died at age 84 of complications due to Alzheimer’s last Wednesday in Oakland, said his wife, singer Barbara Dane.

Obituaries and eulogies have been coming in from The New York Times, the People’s World, and radical websites for Silber who, along with Paul Robeson, Pete Seeger, Alan Lomax, and others, founded the seminal folk music magazine Sing Out! sixty years ago. Silber served as its editor for the first sixty years.

Country Joe McDonald called the magazine “a kind of encyclopedia of that particular time.”

“You can’t look back at a certain part of that progressive folk rock stuff,” said McDonald, whom Silber interviewed for Sing Out! in the late Sixties, “without encountering something that Irwin had a hand in.”

Silber and Dane moved from New York to Oakland about thirty years ago, where he became involved in a Marxist theoretical journal and, Dane said, wrote until a few years ago. His books include Press Box Red, a biography of the sports editor of The Daily Worker, Socialism: What Went Wrong, several folk song collections, and a patient’s guide to knee surgery.

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