(February 28, 1939 – February 22, 2001) was an American fingerstyle guitarist
and composer who pioneered the steel-string acoustic guitar
as a solo instrument. His style has been greatly influential and has been described as the foundation of American Primitivism
, a term borrowed from painting and referring mainly to the self-taught nature of the music and its minimalist style. Fahey borrowed from the folk
traditions in American roots music, having compiled many forgotten early recordings in these genres. He would later incorporate classical, Portuguese, Brazilian, and Indian music into his œuvre. Fahey wrote a largely apocryphal autobiography and was known for his coarseness, aloof demeanor, and dry humour. He spent many of his latter years in poverty and poor health, but also enjoyed a minor career resurgence with a turn towards the more explicitly avant-garde
. He died in 2001 due to complications from heart surgery. In 2003, he was ranked 35th in the Rolling Stone
"The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" list.
John Aloysius Fahey was born in Washington, DC
into a musical household—both his parents played the piano
. In 1945, the family moved to the Washington suburb of Takoma Park, Maryland
to a house on New York Avenue that Fahey's father Al lived in until his death in 1994. On weekends, the family often attended performances of top......