Judy Henske death: Folk singer-songwriter dies, aged 85

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·2-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
 (Alamy)
(Alamy)

The death of singer-songwriter Judy Henske – whose unique blend of folk, blues, jazz and comedy made her a star in the 1960s – has been announced.

Her husband Craig Doerge explained that Henske passed away on 27 April in a Los Angeles hospice after a long illness.

Born Judith Anne Henske in 1936 in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, the striking 6ft tall alto singer started her music career in the late 1950s, moving to San Diego and singing in coffee shops across Southern California and Los Angeles.

Henske then became a member of The Whiskeyhill Singers in the early 1960s before working as a singer in New York, appearing onstage alongside a young Woody Allen. Variety reports that she was a key influence behind the character of Annie Hall – who was also a Chippewa Falls native – in Allen’s 1977 film of the same name.

In 1964 she released the psychedelic blues single “High Flying Bird” – and an album of the same name – before working alongside her then-husband, the producer Jerry Yester, who she lived with in the Laurel Canyon neighbourhood of Los Angeles.

The song was later covered by Jefferson Airplane and would go on to inspire the name of Noel Gallagher’s post Oasis project, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.

Around this time the music producer Jack Nitzsche branded Henske “The Queen of the Beatniks”. Her circle included fellow counter-cultural luminaries as Phil Ochs, Jackson Browne, Shel Silverstein and writer Eve Babitz, who died in late 2021.

In 1969 Henske and Yester released the Farewell Aldebaran album on Frank Zappa’s record label. They then formed a band called Rosebud, who released an album in 1971 before splitting. The couple then divorced.

Henske married fellow musician and Rosebud member Doerge in 1973. It wasn’t until 1999 that she released another album, “Loose in the World”, which she followed in 2004 with “She Sang California”.

Henske is survived by husband Doerge and her daughter Kate DeLaPointe.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting