Patrick Haggerty – the pioneering gay country music singer who broke new ground as the lead singer and guitarist of Lavender Country – has died at the age of 78.
News of Haggerty’s passing was shared via Lavender Country’s Instagram page earlier today (October 1). “This morning, we lost a great soul. RIP Patrick Haggerty”, the post read. “After suffering a stroke several weeks ago, he was able to spend his final days at home surrounded by his kids and lifelong husband, JB.”
Haggerty established Lavender Country in Seattle, Washington in 1972. Alongside fellow founding members Michael Carr, Eve Morris, and Robert Hammerstrom, Haggerty released Lavender Country’s groundbreaking self-titled debut in 1973.
It was released in partnership with the Gay Community Social Services of Seattle – an organisation which Haggerty was involved with – and was performed by the band at Seattle’s first-ever Pride event in 1974.
Fearless in its chronicling of queer experiences, ‘Lavender Country’ is widely considered the world’s first openly gay-themed country album, and reflected Haggerty’s equally groundbreaking efforts in activism. In the ‘80s, Haggerty ran for political office in Seattle City, and elsewhere led activism around gay rights and AIDS awareness.
Lavender Country continued to receive renewed attention in the decades since their disbandment in 1976. The group reissued their eponymous album in 1999 and 2014, and performed a handful of live shows within that period. The band’s sophomore album, ‘Blackberry Rose and Other Songs and Sorrows’, was released in February of this year after an earlier version arrived in 2019.
Speaking in a 2022 interview with Rolling Stone, Haggerty said he was grateful to have made an impact with his activism, and to have spent time with his husband Julius “J.B.” Broughton, prior to the public’s renewed interest in Lavender Country.
“I’d already lived my life”, Haggerty reflected, “I was never caught in the push-pull of that contradiction of public persona, stardom, being a hot shit music person and being a good parent too. It all missed me.”