John Aloysius Fahey

1939 - 2001

Born in Washington, DC in 1939 and raised in Takoma Park, Maryland, Fahey liked to say that he bought his first cheap guitar at Sears & Roebuck at 13 years old to pick up girls. In his formative years, Fahey was a disciplined and voracious student of musical forms. Classical, bluegrass, blues, doo-wop and jazz percolated in his head as he developed his inimitable, soulful style. 

Fahey often played blues inflected solo guitar, but his enormous catalogue of recordings reveals a complex musical tapestry with Brazilian, classical, New Orleans jazz, orchestration featuring numerous stringed instruments as well as Fahey’s ferocious and utterly compelling experimental tape collages of ambient sound and guitar in the musique concrète style of modern Europe.

Finally, in the last years of his life, Fahey proved to be an inventive sonic voyageur of electric guitar, garnering new audiences and collaborative admirers, including members of the hugely influential New York band Sonic Youth. 

Fahey was a respected folklorist and musicologist who garnered his Master’s Degree from the University of California at Los Angeles where he penned an essential study of the American blues genius Charley Patton. 

Fahey was also an entrepreneur who pioneered DIY recording and distribution with his Takoma Records label. Late in life, with Revenant Records, the second recording company of which Fahey was a principal, John Fahey was awarded a Grammy Award for a sumptuous release of Patton’s recordings.

John Fahey died in Salem, Oregon in 2001. A great musician, raconteur, trickster and a wonderful writer, John Fahey was a twentieth-century renaissance man. In Search of Blind Joe Death - The Saga of John Fahey touches people around the world as a portrait of an artist of creative genius, unfathomable energy, wondrous humour and indomitable will.