Patrick Sky, pioneering folk musician, dies aged 80

The singer had battled with prostate cancer and bone cancer, along with Parkinson's disease

Patrick Sky, known for being a pioneering member of the Greenwich Village folk scene in the ’60s, has died aged 80.

The singer-songwriter passed away on May 27 in a hospice in Asheville, North Carolina. As Rolling Stone reports, his wife – fellow musician and novelist Cathy Larson Sky – confirmed Sky had succumbed to prostate and bone cancer. He had previously been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2017.

Patrick Sky was most known for his highly provocative satirical record ‘Songs That Made America Famous’, which was recorded in 1971 but wasn’t released until some years later, following difficulties trying to get a record label to sign off on the profanities.

Fellow musician and friend, Eric Andersen, paid tribute to Sky on Thursday (May 27) in a post praising his “brilliant mind and insightful soul”.

“Well, today’s a big, big sad day for me personally and for all of us songwriter music lovers. The dark? Well, he finally got there…” he wrote in a statement on Facebook.

“Patrick Sky the songwriter, singer, and Irish Uilleann bagpipe luthier has left this world into the light from a hospice in Ashville, North Carolina, but didn’t leave us for good. Songs are spirits and always remain behind.”

Well, today's a big, big sad day for me personally and for all of us songwriter music lovers. The dark? Well, he finally…

Posted by Eric Andersen on Thursday, May 27, 2021

Andersen went on to acknowledge Sky’s friendship with Buffy St. Marie and Peter LaFarge, founded on their shared experiences as Indigenous Native Americans, and confirming a long-held rumour: “Heard the rumor just confirmed by your son Liam. Joni Mitchell’s song ‘Last Time I Saw Richard’ on her album ‘Blue’ was of course about you.”

Born in Georgia, Sky grew up in Louisiana and served in the army before becoming part of Florida’s burgeoning folk scene. It was there he met St. Marie and proceeded to move to New York, where he recorded her debut album.

Later in his career, Sky turned more towards traditional folk music, reflective of his Irish roots. In the ’70s, the part Creek Indian, part Irish singer-songwriter visited Ireland and set out to learn – and build – the Uilleann pipes. Sky went on to start the Celtic folk label Green Linnet, and serve as a Rhode Island state planner on Native American affairs.

Patrick Sky is survived by his wife Cathy Larson Sky and son Liam Sky.

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