John Fahey meets Blind Joe Death

John Fahey passed away Thursday following open-heart surgery.

Fahey is frequently credited with rescuing acousting steel-string guitar music by promoting himself and other guitar artists, notably Leo Kottke, through lean times (for that style) in the 60’s and 70’s. The New York Times called his 1959 debut album, “The Transfiguration of Blind Joe Death”, the “most famous obscure album of recent times”.

IMHO, Fahey blew hot and cold. His style is (was) very clean and precise. Sometimes it was thrilling, other times just boring. He was quite a character, a true independent, something that’s too too rare in the nepotistic music world.

Will miss you John.

Damn you, Pluto; you’ve just ruined my day :frowning:

I saw the reference to the death of JF in Eve’s thread and posted there. For those reading this, it must be noted that John Fahey single handedly changed the music recording industry in the late 50’s and early 60’s. Finding that as a white guitarist playing what he figured popular music there was no avenue for his music, he started his own record label called ‘Tacoma Records’ in Maryland. He wasn’t able to record on rock and roll labels, since his style did not fit into that genre. Further, being white, he could not record on R&B labels, though his style was a bit closer to this (Buddy Holly notwithstanding). He opend the recording studio for other musicians to have an “slternative” to these two popular music styles. Yes, kiddies, he started “Alternative Music”, and no, it is not like anything you’ll hear on WHFS (since 1978, that is).

John was truly a master. Each note played was selected for that piece. Though well versed in improvisation, he wrote each musical piece to be specific. There were no unnecessary notes, nor were there any notes missing. All is there with nothing extranneous. Kinda like Miles Davis.

Some of his stuff is a bit hard to listen to; he experimented with sounds pleasant and unpleasant. Some of it is so melodic it can be the background music to your life. All of it is masterful, however. He recorded many albums influenced many a guitarist (including your’s truly).

This is truly a loss.

John Fahey, in an interview a few years ago, mentioned that he would like to come out of a self imposed “seclusion” to record an instrumental albums of hymns (he had become quite religious in later years) and hoped to tour small venues.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with John Fahey’s work, please give it a listen. What you might like depends on your personal tastes, but I’d bet that there is some JF that you can really groove to. I’d recommend his “Guitar Soli” Christmas album and his “The John Fahey Christmas Album” as a good example of is more popular style of playing. Especially, his “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing/Oh, Come All Ye Faithful” medly on the “Soli” album.

Oh, I wish I could give a more fitting tribute to such an influential person.


I can remember seeing John Fahey in the faculty glade on the campus of Cal Berkeley in 1969. He shared the bill with Albert Collins and several others. I saw him again with Duck Baker at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco many years later.

When Fahey hit the notes right, he could make you weep for the clarity of musical expression. His ability to evoke memory and emotion made you like him whether you were a fan of slide and steel guitar or not. The music world has lost another star, now fallen from the skies. Many, many artists will think back in retrospection tonight.


God DAMN it.


Okay, going to cue up either “The Portland Cement Factory at Monolith California,” “Revelation on the Banks of the Pawtuxent,” or “Knott’s Berry Farm Molly” right now.

Miss you already, John.