Music History

Published on November 16th, 2015 | by Alan Cross


If You’re Into Protest Music, You Need to Know About Joe Hill Who Was Executed 100 Years Ago

Get Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello talking about Joe Hill and you’ll enter a conversation that will last for some time. The same will happen with Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and so many others.

Wait–Joe Hill?  Who’s he?

Now let’s get the the NY Post to help out.

Nov. 19, 2015, will mark the 100th anniversary of the execution of Joe Hill, a man who gave us the phrase “pie in the sky” and left a legacy that has inspired generations of musicians — from Woody Guthrie to Joan Baez, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.

He also left an enduring mystery over whether he died a martyr or a murderer.

The crime for which Hill faced a firing squad was the shooting of a Salt Lake City shopkeeper and his son. The prosecution’s case was based entirely on weak circumstantial evidence, but he was convicted anyway.

Friends wrote at a funeral that drew 30,000 mourners in Chicago that Hill was “murdered by the authorities of the State of Utah” because of his role in the workers rebellion.

The anniversary is being marked by concerts, museum exhibits and plays all over the U.S. and abroad, including The Subversive Theater Collective’s performance of “Joe Hill’s Last Will.”

Not bad for a man who was born into poverty in Sweden, spent most of his life as a hobo laborer in America, and was dead at 36.

Keep reading.

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About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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