Alt Fahey, for real.
John Fahey began his life in music by making solo acoustic guitar recordings of his eccentric versions of early Delta blues.

In doing so, he accidently invented "alternative music." As well as "alternative music record labels." Along with the genres of "alternative and alt music." Very few people know this. Fahey was, and is, a mostly unrecognized music genius.

It started as a joke.
Fahey was a trickster. His first eccentric album was meant to be a highly complicated insider joke on a few serious blues scholars and collectors. Fahey thought they had become a bit too serious. Fahey's scheme was based on inventing the discovery of a previously unknown Delta blues guitarist named "Blind Joe Death." Joe Death's recordings were obviously composed and played by Fahey. But it still sort of worked.
It launched his music career.

How bluegrass music ruined Fahey's life.
Way before the alternative music era, or the mid-60's hippy days, John Fahey was a strange alienated kid in a Baltimore suburb of Washington DC. He somehow became interested in bluegrass music. And absolutely hated early blues. Until one of his bluegrass collector friends played him a blues song he thought John might enjoy.

Fahey didn't merely enjoy it. This song went straight into his cell structure. Within a couple of minutes, it forever changed his life. As he listened to this song, he remembered tears silently welling up in his eyes. From these few moments forward, Fahey would become an unknown force in 20th century American music.

Fahey became "a musician's musician." His explorations of music influenced such a wide range of American music, it's probably impossible to chronicle how many well-known musicians were listening to his many albums.

The 50's and early 60's.
After his esoteric joke album of Joe Death's music in the late 1950's, Fahey began serious studies of Delta blues in the early 1960's. Before there was much interest in early blues music.

The mid-1960's change nearly everything.
Then, in the mid-1960's, the hippies discovered blues music. Including early Delta blues. And John Fahey. He soon became a legendary underground hero.

But John Fahey was also the epitome of a social misfit. He had very little understanding of practical business. And genuinely didn't care. As a result, Fahey ended up living in his car. Which he apparently accepted as part of the cost of being John Fahey. He actually used a photo of himself living in his car for the cover of his Womblife album.

Saved by alterative music and his Christmas albums..
Please note that Fahey never used any "alternative or alt" names for any of his work. Much later in his life, Fahey only became aware of what he had created when several successful "alt bands" like Sonic Youth and WILCO helped him build a new audience for his music.

In the midst of all this chaos, Fahey had earlier recorded a series of elegant, highly listenable solo acoustic guitar albums of Christmans music. These albums quickly became his best selling recordings. And they still are. Fahey's Christmas music is deeply elegant rather than ornamental. It's often included in holiday season playlists. You can hear it every year, interspersed with favorite Christmas holiday music, in shopping malls and building lobbies. Internationally, from small towns to large cities.

What you see is what you don't get.
After the alt bands saved Fahey, along with help from his long-time friend and fellow acoustic guitarist Glenn Jones, Fahey reacted by refusing to play the music that made him famous. Typical Fahey, he once again took his music too far out there. Even for the alt rock music audiences. And he was quickly forgotten. Again.

Fahey was forgotten by the public, and most of the music industry. But not by knowledgeable musicians and music critics. In 2003, Fahey was ranked 35th in Rolling Stone Magazine's "The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" list. In 2022, Fahey had dropped the 78th. But considering how esoteric his music was, that's still rather amazing.

The number of Google search engine returns for Fahey are equally impressive. On June 15th, 2022, a search for "John Fahey" yielded: About 7,990,000 results (0.64 seconds).

Why I never learned to play a Fahey song, on purpose.
I studied John Fahey for a long time. Admittedly, he influenced my comprehension of music. I did my best to study his methods and approachs. And I had the technical ability to play his music. But I never learned a Fahey song. Or any parts or aspects of his music. And that was completely on purpose.

I'm still a big fan of "Fahey-style" acoustic guitar. But I wanted to find my own music path. There's more about this experience in my


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