A staunch wilderness advocate, writer, folksinger, and adventurer, Katie has written hundreds of songs and at least five books during her long career. Her 37-year-old self, posing nude in Glen Canyon before it was drowned by what she scornfully calls “Lake Foul,” is featured in dramatic black-and-white art photographs. Most recently she appeared this year in “DamNation,” a documentary about freeing our nation’s blocked rivers, and in “Wrenched,” a documentary about monkey-wrenching activists in the Southwest. As HCN contributor Craig Childs put it:“(Katie Lee) is our foul-mouthed, lightning-eyed, boot-stomping balladeer, a character Louis L’Amour never could have invented.”
I had the privilege of recording a radio segment with Katie Lee in a hotel rom in downtown Portland many years ago. She was funny, feisty, ornery — everything she oughta be. A friend of Ed Abbey and a friend of Tom Russell. She wrote Ten Thousand Goddam Cattle, a wild and wonderful exploration of the origins of many classic cowboy ballads. She was all of who she was — a genuine, hell-for-leather authentic larger-than-life badass.
We’ll not see her like again.