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John Fahey collections

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John Fahey - books

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John Fahey was born on February 28, 1939 in Takoma Park, Maryland (a suburb of Washington, D. C.). His parents encouraged John's musical interests, and there was often someone playing the family's upright piano. He started out playing the clarinet in his school band, but was more interested in composing and improvising than in playing other people's music. At age 13 he got his first guitar, which provided an outlet for his creative urges. He taught himself several songs (in hopes of attracting women), and developed a special interest in bluegrass. Soon he became a record collector and music historian, seeking out recordings of early bluegrass players. He would listen to and copy such artists as Pete Seeger and Grand Ole Opry guitarist Sam McGee. In 1957 Fahey discovered African-American music in the country blues and sacred songs of Blind Willie Johnson. Fahey's passion for American roots music continued to grow, extending to Delta bluesmen Charley Patton and Skip James.

In 1959, Fahey started his own record label, Takoma, and made his first American Primitive guitar album. The album did not generate great public interest, but it became legendary for introducing John's arrangement of the hymn In Christ There Is No East or West, which became a fingerpicker's standard. The album presented Fahey's personal blues-based style in such a convincing fashion as to make some mistake him for an unknown Negro.

Setting music aside for a time, Fahey studied philosophy in the late 50's and early 60's at the University of Maryland, American University, and U. C. Berkeley. The folk boom of the 1960's, though, drew him back into performing, and in 1963 the Takoma label was revived for a recording of Delta bluesman Booker T. Washington White. Following this, Fahey returned to the South with fellow blues enthusiasts Bill Barth and Henry Vestine in search of Skip James, whom they found and recorded. By 1964, Fahey was composing again, combining the influence of Skip James with his earlier exposure to symphonies and Gregorian Chant.

Fahey returned to Los Angeles to study folklore and mythology at UCLA. By 1967 musical eclecticism had spread, and Fahey's music was finding an audience. He recorded then for Vanguard, an independent label which had recorded both Joan Baez and Doc Watson. Fahey also continued to record other guitarists on the Takoma label, including Leo Kottke. By the early 1970's, Fahey had developed a respectable following. He recorded two of his most acclaimed albums, Of Rivers and Religion and After the Ball on the Reprise label. In 1972, John took an interest in the music and personality of Brazilian guitarist Bola Sete, which led him to pursue meditation and yoga as forms of enlightenment.

By the early 1980's, Fahey was again recording for Takoma. He recorded his first live album in Tasmania in 1981, the same year he moved to Oregon. The Takoma label disbanded, but Fahey continued to record for Rounder's Varrick label. After some health problems in the early 1990's, he made a strong comeback late in the decade. His style had changed, though, using electric guitar but still incorporating a wide variety of influences. At the same time, he retained an interest in American folk music. Several of his early recordings were reissued on a new label, Revenant, which he co-owned.

Fahey's musical influence touched not only close associates such as Leo Kottke but also such rockers as Chris Stein. Fahey passed away on February 22, 2001 at the age of 61.

New books (or books with updated information)

Books authored by John Fahey


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American Primitive Guitar

Level: , pages
RefNr: SG99802BCD
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Fingerstyle & Slide Guitar in Open Tunings
Three lessons on three CDs with a book. Lesson three is on slide, the others on fingerpicking in Open tuning
Level: , pages
RefNr: SG99801BCD
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SheetmusicPlus
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Books including songs recorded by John Fahey


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MBGU Fingerstyle Curriculum: Best Blues Solos
Best Blues Solos provides a variety of pieces that range in style from the so called country blues of the old American South, to contemporary compositions written in the blues style.
Level: , pages
RefNr: MB21365BCD
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SheetmusicPlus
Amazon UK
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MBGU Fingerstyle Curriculum: Best Ragtime Solos
The MBGU Fingerstyle Curriculum Best Ragtime Solos: offers the Fingerstyle guitarist a diverse collection of ragtime pieces ranging from the classic piano rags of Scott Joplin and Tom Hayden to the "bluesier" rags typical of guitarists from the Mississippi Delta.
Level: , pages
RefNr: MB21362BCD
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MBGU Fingerstyle Curriculum - Best Traditional Folk Solos
The MBGU Fingerstyle series is designed to provide intermediate to advanced fingerstyle guitarists with a wide variety of attractive solo pieces to add to their repertoires.
Level: , pages
RefNr: MB98165BCD
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Traditional and Contemporary Guitar Finger-Picking Styles
This celebratory collection gathers the very best in music, tuition and knowledge from two previous Oak titles to commemorate 40 years since their original publication!
Level: , pages
RefNr: OK65010
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Folk, Blues, Jazz & Beyond
The sixteen selection that comprise this fingerpicking guitar collection illustrate a wide variety of music and guitar arranging techniques.
Level: , pages
RefNr: MB94637BCD
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Beginners' Fingerpicking Guitar
It features 21 popular country-blues and ragtime songs set by Stefan Grossman, Happy Traum, Dave Van Ronk and John Fahey in entry-level fingerpicking arrangements.
Level: , pages
RefNr: WBF2316GTXCD
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SheetmusicPlus
MusicRoom

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