Guitarist, Label Man John Fahey Dies

John Fahey, guitarist and indie label owner, died yesterday (Feb. 22) in Salem, Ore., two days after undergoing coronary bypass surgery. He was 61. Fahey, who was instrumental in rediscovering blues l

John Fahey, guitarist and indie label owner, died yesterday (Feb. 22) in Salem, Ore., two days after undergoing coronary bypass surgery. He was 61. Fahey, who was instrumental in rediscovering blues legends Skip James and Bukka White during the 1960s, formulated an idiosyncratic blues-based fingerpicking style that was showcased on a series of albums for his label, Takoma Records.

He was considered a principal, albeit unwilling, influence on such new-age musicians as Will Ackerman and George Winston, and released guitarist Leo Kottke's famed debut album "Six And 12 String Guitar." Fahey also recorded for Warner Bros., Vanguard, Table Of The Elements, and other labels.

Fahey had battled chronic fatigue syndrome and diabetes for several years, and in the mid-90's was living in a hotel in Salem. He derived extra income by scouring record stores for rare classical albums and then reselling them to collectors.

But in recent years, he was reintroduced to a new generation of listeners via Rhino's 1994 compilation "Return Of The Repressed" and 1997's acclaimed "City Of Refuge," released by Tim/Kerr/Polygram. Fahey also operated the eclectic indie Revenant Records, which has issued material from noted avant-garde musicians Derek Bailey, Jim O'Rourke, and Cecil Taylor, among others. His latest album, "Hitomi," was issued last year by LivHouse Records in the U.K.