Rest in Peace, ’60s Folk Singer/Songwriter Judy Henske of “High Flying Birds” Fame: 1936-2022


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Judy Henske, a folk icon of the 1960s who was once labeled “Queen of the Beatniks” by producer Jack Nitzsche, passed away on April 27 at the age of 85.

A lengthy look back at her career from Variety confirmed that Henske passed while in hospice care in Los Angeles after a long illness, according to her husband, Craig Doerge.

It was Henske’s 1963 recording of the song “High Flying Bird,” penned by singer/songwriter Billy Edd Wheeler, that was considered Henske’s most well known recording, as well as a massive influence on the folk/psychedelic music scene that would evolve in later years.

Brooklyn Vegan adds that the song “High Flying Birds” has been said to be the inspiration behind Noel Gallagher‘s High Flying Birds, the post-Oasis solo project of the Britpop icon.

A bit more on Henske’s career, per Variety‘s piece:

… Henske’s sarcasm was reportedly channeled by Woody Allen for Diane Keaton’s title character in “Annie Hall,” who not coincidentally also came from Chippewa Falls. Henske would often appear on double bills at L.A. coffee houses such as the Unicorn on Sunset Strip alongside comics like Allen and Lenny Bruce. Crime fiction author Andrew Vachss included her as a musical leitmotif in a series of novels. Her friends included such legendary figures as Phil Ochs, Jackson Browne, film critic Pauline Kael, writer Eve Babitz and Shel Silverstein. In Vachss’ novel “Blue Belle,” he wrote: “If Linda Ronstadt’s a torch singer, Henske’s a flame thrower.”

May Judy Henske rest in peace.

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