John Fahey

The Legend of Blind Joe Death


John Fahey died last week, and for someone who began his career in 1959 by pressing up an album of his atavistic fingerstyle guitar playing that he’d recorded, with the label reading “John Fahey” on one side and the spurious bluesman “Blind Joe Death” on the other, an opaque prank that hoodwinked at least one cavendish-burning ethnomusicologist and marked the birth of Takoma Records, a feisty independent label that would become synonymous with intricate acoustic-guitar stylings juxtaposed with a rather arcane sense of humor, it would stand, sit or lie prone that few, including the aforementioned ethnomusicologist, might have predicted the staggering influence this man Fahey would exert upon a panoply of introverted fretboard enthusiasts whose principal fetish was a predilection for weird guitar tunings that, whilst plucked, could induce harrowing depression in even the most resolute Presbyterian.