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Obit: John Fahey is Dead R.I.P. (Feb 2001)

Related threads:
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John Fahey seriously ill? (6) (closed)

GUEST,Mike Billo 22 Feb 01 - 06:49 PM
Lonesome EJ 22 Feb 01 - 06:53 PM
katlaughing 22 Feb 01 - 06:53 PM
Lady McMoo 22 Feb 01 - 06:56 PM
Mountain Dog 22 Feb 01 - 09:42 PM
bflat 22 Feb 01 - 10:30 PM
Jim the Bart 22 Feb 01 - 10:36 PM
Alice 22 Feb 01 - 11:14 PM
GUEST,Jerry Epstein 23 Feb 01 - 12:06 AM
voyager 23 Feb 01 - 02:07 PM
GUEST,Phil Cooper 23 Feb 01 - 02:30 PM
Seth 23 Feb 01 - 05:28 PM
LDave 23 Feb 01 - 06:47 PM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Feb 01 - 06:58 PM
rube1 23 Feb 01 - 07:33 PM
bluebird 23 Feb 01 - 10:21 PM
GUEST,Lance Frodsham 23 Feb 01 - 10:46 PM
Bsondahl 24 Feb 01 - 11:09 AM
Barbara 25 Feb 01 - 12:58 AM
LR Mole 26 Feb 01 - 08:54 AM
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Subject: John Fahey is Dead R.I.P.
From: GUEST,Mike Billo
Date: 22 Feb 01 - 06:49 PM

This morning I began the "John Fahey seriously ill" thread, and have learned just now, by checking back with it that, Fahey passed away this morning.

I'm sure I speak for others here when I say that many of us (including myself)who embraced "American Primitive" fingerstyle playing owe a tremendous debt to Fahey.

His influence was great and I will miss him.

Rest In Peace John

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Subject: RE: John Fahey is Dead R.I.P.
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 22 Feb 01 - 06:53 PM

John's Blind Joe Death is one of my favorite acoustic guitar albums of all time. He was a great preserver of past traditions, as well as a brilliant innovator. The clear ringing tones of his guitar will live on.

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Subject: RE: John Fahey is Dead R.I.P.
From: katlaughing
Date: 22 Feb 01 - 06:53 PM

Here is a cliquey for the other thread.

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Subject: RE: John Fahey is Dead R.I.P.
From: Lady McMoo
Date: 22 Feb 01 - 06:56 PM

This a great shame. Isaac and now John Fahey. What a loss, they were both strong influences. May they rest in peace


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Subject: RE: John Fahey is Dead R.I.P.
From: Mountain Dog
Date: 22 Feb 01 - 09:42 PM

Yes, John will be missed. I was always amazed not only by his virtuosity, but by the breadth of his work. One of our favorite albums by him was "The New Possibility: Christmas Soli", found in mint condition for a buck in a Goodwill Store LP rack! It includes a 'swung' version of 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen' that blows the dust off that hoary holiday chestnut in a most invigorating way.

A gentle master, gone too soon. Journey well, John.

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Subject: RE: John Fahey is Dead R.I.P.
From: bflat
Date: 22 Feb 01 - 10:30 PM

I would never have hear of John Fahey had it not been for WFDU-FM 89.1 Teaneck, NJ. The radio guys there would play his music and credit him.They recognized the talent of this man, bless them. Unfortunately, his music is not widely known. It was wonderful! If you have never heard him then I urge you to call a local station and request one of his CD's, something of his music. He is one reason I enjoy the guitar today. So, good-bye, John and thank you for your gift of beautiful guitar that was so inspirational.

Ellen, a fan

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Subject: RE: John Fahey is Dead R.I.P.
From: Jim the Bart
Date: 22 Feb 01 - 10:36 PM

My gosh. This is bad news. He was incredibly influential when I first started trying to figure out what "this acoustic guitar music" was really all about. An innovator and rare individual.

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Subject: RE: John Fahey is Dead R.I.P.
From: Alice
Date: 22 Feb 01 - 11:14 PM

Very sad loss. I found his music in 1971 when I was working at the college radio station. Peace be to him.

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Subject: RE: John Fahey is Dead R.I.P.
From: GUEST,Jerry Epstein
Date: 23 Feb 01 - 12:06 AM

Not everyone remembers that it was John who (along with two others) found SKip James in Mississippi in 1964 and brought him to NEwport. James may have been the most amazing blues player of all time. . . I met John around that time through Nick Perls, founder of Yazoo records and also the finder of Son House tha same year of 1964. John always seemed to me to be a little bit lost in the world and fought most of his life (at least in those years) with depression and other demons. I saw John only once in recent years (Nick also passed on about 10 years ago), and that was about 5 years ago. I can only hope that recent times found him more content and at peace.

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Subject: RE: John Fahey is Dead R.I.P.
From: voyager
Date: 23 Feb 01 - 02:07 PM

Mournful Moment Time....

THIS MAN SAVED MY LIFE (no kidding).

At the age of 16 I would sit in my room with headphones listening to the TAKOMA records (BJD - Desperate Man Blues) not knowing that as an adult (with family) I would migrate from West Coast to East Coast (Takoma Park, MD) to get closer to the roots of his music.....

But I digress..... At a Birchmere concert I once knocked on his rehearsal room door so I could introduce myself as President of the JF Fan Club (membership = 1) and ask if I could take a GUITAR LESSON with him. He said if I could find the phone number of "beautiful Linda Getchell" he would comply.

This man has been a raison d'etre in most of my LYFE and he will not be forgotten.


voyager FSGW Ghetto

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Subject: RE: John Fahey is Dead R.I.P.
From: GUEST,Phil Cooper
Date: 23 Feb 01 - 02:30 PM

I was very sorry to hear about John Fahey's passing. I first saw him on a public TV show called Guitar, Guitar. I had only been playing a little over a year myself at that point (so it must have been '70 or '71). Watching him talk about open tunings changed the direction of my playing. The first Fahey album I bought was Dance of Death and Other Plantation Favorites. Many other albums of his followed. I always admired his substance over flash approach to guitar playing.

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Subject: RE: John Fahey is Dead R.I.P.
From: Seth
Date: 23 Feb 01 - 05:28 PM

I saw/heard John play at a rock concert in Berkeley in 1970. HE was first on the bill. Most of the people there had come to see the band, not him, and made it quite clear when he walked on stage, dressed in jeans and a T-shirt. He was not Mr. Showbiz. He was carrying three guitars and a six pack. The crowd was not hostile to him exactly, just not interested, and John's stage presence was not, shall we say, exactly riveting. So John sits down center stage in a folding chair, pops open a brewski, has a drink, puts it down, never smiles. waves or says hello, picks up one of the three guitars and ... and...HITS THIS IMPOSSIBLE CHORD!!!! and it rings out some blend of blues, Afghan goatherd chants, Brazilian samba, gamelan, and Morton Subotnik and everybody in the Berkeley Community Theater shuts up and looks at the stage holy shit and he had 'em by the short and curly ones until he wandered off the stage 45 minutes later. I don't remember the band at the top of that bill, but I sure remember him.

I'm sorry I never got to meet the man. HIs music has been played in our house a lot over the past thirty years. May you rest in peace, John. Seth from CHina

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Subject: RE: John Fahey is Dead R.I.P.
From: LDave
Date: 23 Feb 01 - 06:47 PM

Go to and check out his essay, The Nature of Reality. Incredibly astute and really funny too. Lots of good biographical info too.

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Subject: RE: John Fahey is Dead R.I.P.
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Feb 01 - 06:58 PM

I find I'm turning to the obituary pages as soon as I open the paper these days. I remember the first time I heard John Fahey it was on a tape on a John Peel radio show. Might even have been while he was still on a radio pirate ship.

I remember listening to this amazing music, wanting it to keep going, but also eager to get to the end to find out what the hell it was. I think it was My Grandfather's Clock he was playing.

And I think it was at a Cambridge Festival I saw him - never even seen a photo of him before. He didn't look the way I thought he would, but he looked fine.

I think I'll play all my John Fahey records tomorrow.

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Subject: RE: John Fahey is Dead R.I.P.
From: rube1
Date: 23 Feb 01 - 07:33 PM

John Fahey also wrote several biographical books about bluesmen. I believe he wrote one about Charlie Patton. They were distributed by an outfit called Legacy Books. I handled a few of them in 1978 when I worked for a publisher in Baton Rouge.(Legacy Publishing-coincidentally no relation) I imagine they're somewhat rare. If anyone knows where to find any copies of these books, or has knowledge of them, I'd be interested to hear from you. Thanks. Kevin

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Subject: RE: John Fahey is Dead R.I.P.
From: bluebird
Date: 23 Feb 01 - 10:21 PM

Seems odd to hear John Fahey is dead over the web since the internet has a feeling of unreality because I am a luddite. I was attending one of his concerts and he would play a song then have a shot of whiskey and then play another song..... I don't know if blind joe death has him but here is a shot to the histronics of the ungrateful dead.

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Subject: RE: John Fahey is Dead R.I.P.
From: GUEST,Lance Frodsham
Date: 23 Feb 01 - 10:46 PM

I fell in love with acoustic music due to John Fahey. I was sixteen and saw him play at the Ashgrove in LA with Mance Lipscomb. Since then I've seen him many times. I saw him play last year at the St John's pub in Portland and he did look ill. I was so glad I went.

John never looked back, he pooh poohed his many great Tacoma recordings and always said to listen to what he was doing NOW. He never stopped pushing the envelope and experimenting. 61 is too young an age to lose him. What an incredible legacy he left! Fare thee well John Lance

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Subject: RE: John Fahey is Dead R.I.P.
From: Bsondahl
Date: 24 Feb 01 - 11:09 AM

I once interviewed him in Minneapolis, around 1976. It was between sets when he played at the Whole Coffeehouse. It was my first radio interview. I made up a list of people I thought might have influenced him, including Etta Baker, Gary Davis, and others, and asked him what he thought about all of them. He said, "they're mostly dead." Kind of shut down the interview for me. But it perked up then because this weird emcee guy kept coming in and haranguing Fahey in a nasty way to get back on stage. Fahey, popping some aspirin, complaining of headache, told me while the guy was out that he hated Minnesota. Said the last time he was there some high school wrestlers beat him up in a motel for complaining about their noise at 2 a.m. Then the emcee guy came back in, and I was shocked to see him hiding a small pocketknife with one hand while hassling Fahey. I couldn't tell if Fahey could see the knife at all, and was wondering where this was going. Fahey just yelled at the guy to beat it, and left to go play again. Played a great second set. Brad Sondahl

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Subject: RE: John Fahey is Dead R.I.P.
From: Barbara
Date: 25 Feb 01 - 12:58 AM

Yeah I first heard him when I started college probably in 1965 or 66, and I really loved his guitar. NO ONE else sounded like that. Bought a bunch of his records over the years, and I guess he was one of those folk who fell into the bottle far too often.
Here's the story about him from the Statesman Journal (Salem OR), Feb 23. It was on the front page, with a picture.
The Grammy winner died three days after having heart bypass surgery
By Alan Gustafson

John Fahey, a legendary American guitarist and Grammy winner who continued to make music while living in a series of dingy Salem motels, died here Thursday. Fahey's death at Salem Hospital came three days after he underwent heart bypass surgery. He slipped into a coma after Monday's operation and was taken off life support Thursday, said his former wife, Melody Fahey of Salem.
"His body just didn't make it through the stresses of the operation," she said.
Fahey was 61. An accomplished guitarist since his teens, he made his first album in 1959, and recorded several albums in the '60s that are recognised as classics of their kind.
"He's America's leading finger-style guitarist. He invented the style," said Tim Knight, owner of Guitar Castle in Salem, who played organ, guitar and percussions with Fahey's local group, the John Fahey Trio.
In all, Fahey released 45 albums since the 1960s. He made his mark, not only for musical versatility and innovative playing, but also for his brilliant mind and eccentric manner.
"People called him a genius, " Knight said. "He would laught that off in a hurry. He was the most down-home person you'd ever meet as far as not waving his own flag. He let others do that.
"John was a man who played Carnegie Hall. John was a man who won a Grammy. But those things were not important to him. The important things to him were things like Chinese food. He loved to eat."
Described as a bear of a man, with a large appetite for life, Fahey's eclectic interests ranged from folklore and religion to spontaneous paintings done with antifreeze and paints even he couldn't identify.
"He called himself a spiritual detective," Melody Fahey said. "He spent quite a bit of time being an Episcopalian but he also had an interest in Eastern religions."

West Coast Move
Raised in Maryland, John Fahey said in a 1998 interview that his life was profoundly changed by a move to the West Coast in the early 1960s.
"I hated my family, so a bunch of us decided to move to Berkeley and take over the folk music scene. So we did," he said. "I moved out there in 1963. We were pretty successful and a lot of us got degrees."
Fahey got a master's in folklore and mythology from the University of California at Los Angeles, added up an undergradiate degree in philosophy and theology from American University in Washington, DC. John and Melody Fahey, his third wife, moved from Los Angeles to Salem in 1981.
"He bought a home here to get as far away from LA as he could, " Knight said. "He absolutely loved the climate and the relaxation that Oregon brought him."
He was burdened by frequent health problems including diabetes, restless leg syndrome and a viral condition known as Epstein-Barr. After his marriage to Melody ended nearly a decade ago, Fahey variously lived in his car, on the streets and in low-rent motels.
"I've been very creative, making a lot of records, but I'm poor," he once told the Statesman Journal. "I'm in debt to the Internal Revenue Service and a lot of other people. That's how I'm paying them off, by getting gigs."
Even so, making money never amounted to a big concern for Fahey.
"I've seen him with plenty of it and none of it," Knight said. "It wasn't something that interested him at all. He would give it away. I was a recipient of plenty of it."
In return, friends often helped him with gifts and money. Fahey also regularly acquired cash for food by buying and reselling old books and records -- including his own.

Grammy Award
Fahey typically downplayed his legendary status and accomplishments, including his Grammy. It was awarded in 1997 for Best Album Notes on the Smithsonian Institutuion's release of "Anthology of American Folk Music". After decades as a recording artist, Fahey reportedly was miffed that he was honored for his literary skill. Friends said Fahey was a happy man, even without wealth and conventional fame. He once provided the same assessment for a reporter.
"Because I know I'm good inside," he explained. "I believe in talent."
A Salem memorial service is being planned. the place and time are yet to be determined.


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Subject: John Fahey is gone
From: LR Mole
Date: 26 Feb 01 - 08:54 AM

Yesterday's New York Times ran John Fahey's obituary.Blind Joe Death, transfigured.

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