Patrick Sky, Folk Artist Who Recorded Controversial ‘Songs That Made America Famous,’ Dies at 80

Patrick Sky

Patrick Sky, a standout of Greenwich Village’s folk music scene of the ‘60s, who, as he matured as a songwriter and artist, blended sharp satire with politics and cut an album deemed "x-rated" for its time, died May 26. He was 80.

Born Patrick Lynch to Creek Indian and Irish ancestry, Sky learned to play guitar, banjo, and harmonica during a youth spent largely near the LaFouche Swamp region of Louisiana.

Like so many of his peers, Sky served in the military for several years after attending college. These experiences would shape his art.

Sky settled in New York City in the 1960s and cut his self-titled debut album in 1965. Patrick Sky opened with what would become a folk staple, "Many a Mile.”

As his satirical edge took shape, Sky recorded his fifth album LP Songs That Made America Famous in March 1971, a set said to be so confrontational, it was rejected by multiple record labels. The album didn't see the light of day for another two years.

Adelphi Records president Gene Rosenthal wasn’t scared off. He spotted its “redeeming social content” and agreed to issue the record, complete with its controversial title, cover art and label design, a bare-butt parody of the Apple Corps logo.

Indeed, a link to the record on the Adelphi Records website warns readers of its lyrical contents, which “are an aggressive breach of 'political correctness.’”

Over time, Sky changed gears to Irish traditional music, and producing other artists. His last full length studio album, Through a Window, dropped in 1985.

Sky also made guest appearances on recordings by Buffy Sainte-Marie, Eric Andersen and Mississippi John Hurt, and he found new musical energy as a duo with his Cathy, recording Down to Us in 2009, an album of traditional Irish music.