If anyone understood the American working man or woman it was Studs Terkel. He listened and talked with them. Didn’t matter who they were, what they did, famous, infamous, or just another face in the crowd. The author, journalist, activist, historian, and radio host died today at the age of 96. Studs was always about keeping it real.

Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do is perhaps his best known book which was adapted into a Broadway musical by composer Stephen Schwartz in 1978. Though “Working” wasn’t a Broadway hit, the book has been a classic text for the study of 20th century American History. And Schwartz’s musical still remains popular on the high school college musical circuit. Here’s a clip of “Millworker” from the PBS “American Playhouse” production with Eileen Brennan.

Studs’ signature raspy voice gave any joint or interview instant atmosphere and what could be a better combination than Studs talking with musicians. He loved jazz and the Blues. Check out this video with Chicago Blues pianist Blind John Davis, recorded in 1985.

More of Studs Terkel’s interviews can be found at the Chicago Historical Society – Studs Terkel: Coversations With America.