John Fahey |  Artist

John Fahey | Artist

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John Fahey aka Blind Thomas aka Blind Joe Death was an American finger-style guitarist and composer born 1939 in Washington D.C. His style has been enormously influential and described as the foundation of the genre of American primitive guitar. Fahey was born into a musical family, with father and mother both playing the piano. He regularly attended performances with his family of the top country and bluegrass acts including Bill Monroe, who sparked the young Fahey's passion for music. Fahey also developed a love for blues music and began a life long passion for collecting old blues records. As his guitar-playing and composing progressed, Fahey developed a style that blended the picking patterns of old blues with the dissonance of 20th century composers, such as Charles Ives and Bela Bartok. He made his first recordings on friend Joe Bussard's amateur label Fonotone under the pseudonym "Blind Thomas". In 1959, Fahey recorded at St. Michaels and All Angels Church in Maryland and that material would become the first record released on Takoma, which became a small but influential label. Having no idea how to approach professional record companies, Fahey decided to issue his first album himself, using cash saved from his gas station job and some borrowed from the Church priest. Thus was born Takoma Records, named in honor of his hometown. Side of the sleeve was named "John Fahey", on the other, his nickname "Blind Joe Death". One hundred copies of this first album were pressed and it took Fahey three years to sell all copies. After graduating from American University with a degree in philosophy and religion, Fahey moved to California in 1963 to study philosophy at UC Berkley. Becoming disillusioned with the proto-hippy scene and folk revivalists like Pete Seeger, Fahey quit UC and moved south to join UCLA's folklore master's program and received an M.A. in folklore in 1966. Fahey's master's thesis on the music of Charley Patton was completed with the assistance of future Canned Heat founder Al Wilson and published by Studio Vista in 1970. Fahey would go on to release a total of 35 studio albums, including collaborations with a backing orchestra and artists such as Leo Kottke. There is also a large volume of archival releases fuelled by a growing appreciation for Fahey's work over recent decades. Standout albums include Blind Joe Death/John Fahey (1959),Vol. II: Death Chants, Breakdowns and Military Waltzes (1964), Vol 3: Dance of Death & Other Plantation Favorites (1965), Volume 5: The Transfiguration of Blind Joe Death (1967), Volume 6: Days Have Gone By (1967), The Yellow Princess (1968), America (1971) and Fare Forward Voyagers (Soldier's Choice) (1973). Also highly recommended is the 2004 live archival compilation The Great Santa Barbara Oil Slick. Fahey spent many of his later years in poverty and poor health, but enjoyed a minor career resurgence in the late 1990s. He died in 2001 from complications from heart surgery. In 2003, Fahey was ranked 35th on Rolling Stone magazine's "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" list.

Artist Website: wikipedia/John_Fahey_(musician)

Featured Albums: John Fahey

Related Artists: Leo Kottke, Blind Thomas

Video Clips: Red Pony, Poor Boy a Long Way From Home, John Henry

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