Fahey's great "fake" delta blues lp reissued... primitive blues afficionados lost their shit over this one!
Initially released in 1959 in a very limited edition, one side of the
record was credited to a mythical bluesman named Blind Joe Death, while
the other side was credited to Fahey himself.
It was one of the first albums recorded and produced by an independent
artist. Self-released on Takoma Records, the label didn’t formally exist
until 1963 when Fahey and ED Denson formed a partnership with record distributor Norman Pierce. Barry Hansen wrote in 1972, "John Fahey is the original underground musician. Dylan was still at Hibbing High School when John Fahey made his first record."
Fahey's earliest recordings were released on custom edition 78 rpm discs on his friend Joe Bussard's record label, Fonotone.  In 1959 Fahey made his own record, recorded in his home town of Takoma Park, Maryland,
and pressed by RCA Custom Recorders. He pressed only 100 copies using
money he earned pumping gas at a local station and a loan of $300 from
an Episcopal minister. Some of the copies were broken on their way from
the plant and others given away to friends. Fahey sent copies to
folklorists and scholars around the country, as well as planting them in
record stores and Goodwill bins for lucky customers to come across. The
remainder were slowly sold over a period of four years.
The material Fahey was playing and composing was unique in 1959. As influential musicologist and friend Dick Spottswood
related, "He was not someone who was going with what we perceived as
the mainstream at that time. Don't forget those were the days when
rhythm and blues were all of a sudden being marketed to the white
audiences called by a new name, rock 'n' roll, and John certainly wasn't
interested in doing any of that... he wasn't doing any of those things
that people made a living at on that instrument in those days."
The name for the mythical mentor came at a friend's suggestion. In an interview with Stefan Grossman
in the 1980s, Fahey stated "The reason it said "blind" is because a lot
of the people I learned from were on old 78 RPM records and a lot of
them were blind, and their names were Blind Willie Johnson, Blind Boy Fuller, Blind Joe Taggart,
on and on, a whole bunch of them were blind. Also I was thinking, when
ever you print the word 'Death' people look at it and I was thinking of
record sales already even though I was only going to have a hundred
Years later Fahey related, "The whole point was to use the word
'death'." Blind Joe Death was my death instinct. He was also all the
Negroes in the slums who were suffering. He was the incarnation, not
only of my death wish, but of all the aggressive instincts in me."
For years Fahey and Takoma continued to treat the imaginary guitarist
Blind Joe Death as a real person, including booklets with their LPs
containing biographical information about him including the "fact" that
he had a guitar made from a baby's coffin and that he had taught Fahey
Fahey sometimes incorporated the myth of Blind Joe into his
performances, wearing dark glasses and being led by the arm onto the
This product was added to our catalog on Wednesday 22 December, 2010.