Patrick Sky, ’60s Folk Star and Later a Piper, Dies at 80

Patrick Sky, who established himself as a part of the Greenwich Village folks scene of the mid-1960s with clean guitar-picking and a Southern twang that might be melodic or sassy, then turned adept at enjoying, and making, the notoriously troublesome instrument often known as the uilleann pipes, died on May 26 in Asheville, N.C. He was 80.

His spouse, Cathy Larson Sky, stated the trigger was most cancers. He died at a hospice middle and lived in Spruce Pine, N.C.

Mr. Sky’s best-known tune was in all probability “Many a Mile,” a weary-traveler lament that opened his debut album, titled merely “Patrick Sky,” in 1965. It was coated by others, together with Buffy Sainte-Marie, his girlfriend early in his profession. He was additionally expert at “sardonic, satiric rags and blues,” as The New York Times put it in 1965, and as his profession superior, these parts of his repertoire turned extra caustic.

That facet of his music culminated in what fRoots journal known as “the most politically incorrect folk album ever,” a 1973 launch titled “Songs That Made America Famous.” The observe titles — “Vatican Caskets” and “Child Molesting Blues” amongst them — convey the tenor of the report.

“America’s full of prudes, you know,” Mr. Sky instructed fRoots in 2017. “So I just did a record that’d sort of gouge them in the eye with a stick.”

By then, although, Mr. Sky, who was of each Irish and Creek Indian heritage, had turned his consideration to the uilleann pipes, maybe probably the most troublesome instrument to play within the arsenal of Irish music, after assembly the grasp piper Liam O’Flynn at the Philadelphia Folk Festival within the early 1970s. Mr. Sky discovered not solely to play the instrument but additionally to make it, one thing he did for the remainder of his life, serving to to revive a pale artwork. In 2009 he and his spouse, a fiddler, made an album, “Down to Us.”

One journal known as this 1973 launch by Mr. Sky “the most politically incorrect folk album ever.” 

Patrick Leon Linch Jr. (who legally modified his identify within the 1960s) was born on Oct. 2, 1940, in College Park, Ga., outdoors Atlanta. His father was a munitions employee, and his mom, Theron Rutilla Heard Linch, was a registered nurse.

Patrick grew up in Georgia, Louisiana and different components of the South and was desirous about music from an early age. In 1957 he enlisted within the Army, serving in an artillery unit till his discharge the subsequent yr.

“I began playing at little coffeehouses,” he stated in an interview for the e book “Folk Music: More Than a Song” (1976), “eventually finding my way to Florida.”

There he met Ms. Sainte-Marie, and a few years later, when she went north to New York, he did, too. His Southern sensibilities typically made for an amusing match with the Greenwich Village folkies he started socializing and enjoying with. His spouse stated he used to inform concerning the time the musician Dave Van Ronk and different associates provided to take him out for soul meals, a time period he didn’t know. At the restaurant, when the collards and fatback, cornbread, fried pork chops and such arrived, his associates requested what he thought.

“Back home,” he instructed them, “this is what we just call ‘food.’”

As folks music loved a growth, a music publication known as Broadside started sponsoring “singing newspapers,” as they have been described — concert events at which a string of performers would sing topical songs, typically written for the event. Mr. Sky performed at the primary one, at the Village Gate in 1964, to a crowd of 500; Pete Seeger was the grasp of ceremonies, and the opposite performers included Phil Ochs, Tom Paxton, Jack Elliott and Ms. Sainte-Marie.

In February 1965, Mr. Sky performed a larger venue, Town Hall, in Midtown. In his evaluation, Robert Shelton of The Times known as him “an important new folk-song talent.” Mr. Sky went on to play to 2,400 at Carnegie Hall in December 1966.

Mr. Sky performing at the Eagle Tavern in Greenwich Village in 1986. His Southern sensibilities had made for an amusing match with the Village folkies he performed and socialized with within the 1960s.Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

His second album, “A Harvest of Gentle Clang,” had been launched that yr. Mr. Sky turned a common at folks festivals, golf equipment and schools, and two extra albums adopted earlier than the last decade’s finish: “Reality Is Bad Enough” in 1968 and “Photographs” the subsequent yr.

But he started performing much less and much less, and after “Songs That Made America Famous,” he retired for a time, although he started doing exhibits once more within the 1980s, including the pipes to his performances.

Few folks performed that instrument at the time. In a section filmed a number of years in the past for “Around Carolina,” a native cable present, Mr. Sky, who lived in Rhode Island for a whereas, joked about his uncommon obsession.

“I used to tell people I was the best piper in all of New England,” he stated, “which is true because I was the only piper.”

He continued to carry out together with his spouse at pipers’ festivals and different occasions till 2018, when he was discovered to have Parkinson’s illness.

Mr. Sky earned a bachelor’s diploma in poetry at Goddard College in Vermont in 1978 and a grasp’s diploma in folklore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1993.

Two early marriages led to divorce. He married Cathy Anne Larson in 1981. In addition to his spouse, he’s survived by their son, Liam Michael Sky; a son from an earlier marriage, Marcus Linch; and three grandchildren.