Artist picture of John Fahey

John Fahey

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Sunflower Blues John Fahey 03:23
Silent Night John Fahey 03:16
Good Christian Men Rejoice, Rejoice John Fahey 01:32
West Coast Blues John Fahey 03:20
Irish Medley John Fahey 05:44
Je Ne Me Suis Revellais Matin Pas En May John Fahey 02:20
In Christ There Is No East Or West John Fahey 02:22
Silent Night, Holy Night John Fahey 01:12
Jingle Bells John Fahey 03:03
Santisima John Fahey 01:33

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Terming his style as 'American primitive music', John Fahey was a maverick, folk guitar genius, whose solo acoustic, instrumental compositions earned him critical acclaim. Raised in Takoma Park in the suburbs of Maryland, Fahey grew up listening to classical music and hearing local country and bluegrass acts but, after taking up the guitar at the age of 12, he picked up tips from neighbourhood friends and developed an unusual way of playing with his fingers. His obsession with music also included record collecting and, in his teenage years, he and other budding musicologists started hunting for old 78 recordings of lost blues artists from the 1920s and 1930s.

It led to him soaking up the rhythms and techniques of musicians like Blind Willie Johnson, Mississippi John Hurt and Charlie Patton, inventing a unique style of acoustic guitar playing which was also influenced by composers like Charles Ives and Bela Bartok. He worked at a gas station and borrowed money from a priest in order to set his label Takoma Records and press 100 copies of his debut album 'Blind Joe Death' in 1959; but his musical adventures grew further when he began studying for a master's degree in folklore at UCLA and wrote a thesis on his hero Charlie Patton.

As part of the American folk music revival which really started to boom in the early 1960s, he travelled through the South where he discovered forgotten blues artists Bukka White and Skip James and continued to hone his own eclectic ideas on his early albums 'The Dance of Death and Other Plantation Favourites' and 'The Transfiguration of Blind Joe Death', with liner notes written by Alan Wilson of Canned Heat. An uncompromising character who despised much of the folk royalty and raged against the era's hippie counter-culture, he steadily created his own myths as an outsider artist with a mesmerising finger picking technique and obscure, strange-sounding guitar tunings. He also took inspiration from Gregorian and Tibetan chants and traditional Indonesian music on 'Requia' and 'The Voice of the Turtle', and released the well-received Christmas record 'The New Possibility'. His stage performances were renowned too, as he appeared to become lost in a trance state - a method he claimed to have been taught by a hypnotist.

Through Takoma Records he also helped release records by Leo Kottke, Mike Bloomfield and Maria Muldaur, and despite drug and alcohol abuse and increasing health problems he became a cult guitar hero beloved by Pete Townshend, Robert Plant and Ry Cooder. In the 1990s a new generation of alternative artists rediscovered his work and he recorded 'Womblife' with producer and former Sonic Youth member Jim O'Rourke in 1997. His final album 'Red Cross' was released after his death in 2001, aged 61, following heart bypass surgery.