American Primitive Guitar, a term Fahey often mocked, has been defined as untutored guitar playing, similar to the term used for primitive painters. Fahey himself learned how to play by listening to finger picking blues artists of the 1920s and 30s, imitating their technique and then inventing his own style.
Fahey’s work has profoundly touched and influenced many great musicians. The members of Caleixco, Ry Cooder, Leo Kottke, Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, Robert Plant and Pete Townshend are but a few of the musicians who pay tribute to Fahey. As a record producer, Fahey revived the careers of southern American blues greats such as Skip James and Bukka White.
As a musicologist and folklorist, Fahey’s groundbreaking study of Charley Patton, first submitted as a Master’s Thesis at UCLA in 1966, remains an influential study of an American musical original.
A complex man playing simple roots music with an extraordinary gift, John Fahey was able to take elements from the past and transport them into the future. When all is said and done, it is John Fahey’s guitar playing that endures. To appreciate his melodies, his sense of dynamics, the emotional power and range of his playing is an experience that listeners around the world continue to treasure.
As music writer Li Robbins has noted, John Fahey made the guitar sound like an orchestra. John Fahey was an artist capable of accessing and expressing his subconscious in forms of great beauty. Renowned musicians predict that Fahey’s recordings and compositions will endure far, far into the future. In Search of Blind Joe Death - The Saga of John Fahey considers John Fahey’s outstanding, singular musical contribution in the form of a feature documentary film.