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In Search of Blind Joe Death: the Saga of John Fahey

Fri Dec 6, 11pm-12midnight, BBC4

BBC4’s Friday night music zone has been drifting a little of late. This film by James Cullingham promises to be one of the slot’s more interesting propositions in a while. John Fahey was a remarkable guitar innovator with a style pitched somewhere between folk, blues and, towards the end of his career, avant-garde minimalism.

His modus operandi was simultaneously deeply heartfelt and mildly mischievous; for example, he managed to convince various blues archivists that Blind Joe Death – the mysterious figure at the heart of his most famous album ‘The Transfiguration of Blind Joe Death’ – was a genuine lost blues legend. Fahey struggled with ill health later in life and died of heart problems aged 61. But at least he lived long enough to witness a renaissance of interest in his work, with the likes of Thurston Moore and Jim O’Rourke singing his praises.

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