Blind Joe Death

Blind Joe Death is the first album by American fingerstyle guitarist and composer John Fahey. There are three different versions of the album, and the original self-released edition of fewer than 100 copies is extremely rare.

Blind Joe Death
Studio album by
Released1959
Recorded1959, St. Michael's and All Angels Church, Adelphi, Maryland
GenreAmerican Primitivism
Length43:21 (1959 version)
LabelTakoma
ProducerJohn Fahey
John Fahey chronology
Blind Joe Death
(1959)
Death Chants, Breakdowns & Military Waltzes
(1963)
Alternative cover
Cover of the 1967 stereo release of the LP
(design by Tom Weller)

The recording of steel-string acoustic guitar solos was "incredibly avant-garde" in 1959. It was released on Takoma Records, Fahey's own label. It was not marketed and made no impression on the American record-buying public.[1]

Its popularity, significance in guitar music, and critical reception have grown over the years. The music historian Richie Unterberger characterized Blind Joe Death as "a very interesting record from a historical perspective...as few if any other guitarists were attempting to interpret blues and folk idioms in such an idiosyncratic fashion in the late '50s and early '60s."[2] Richard Cook of the NewStatesman wrote, "Only 100 copies were pressed. Incredibly, it was still enough of a milestone to secure him an almost worldwide reputation."[3]

On April 6, 2011, the album was deemed by the Library of Congress to be "culturally, historically, or aesthetically important" and added to the United States National Recording Registry for the year 2010.[4][5]


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