Steve Lowenthal: Dance of Death: The Life of John Fahey, American Guitarist (Chicago Review Press) | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Monday, October 19th, 2020  

Steve Lowenthal

Dance of Death: The Life of John Fahey, American Guitarist

Published by Chicago Review Press

Jul 29, 2014 Issue #50 - June/July 2014 - Future Islands Bookmark and Share

John Fahey was an acoustic guitar master, a musician's musician, and a player who transcended blues and folk styles to create his own "American Primitive" instrumental mastery. However, Fahey also was a troubled soul, battling demons including stage fright, alcohol and drug abuse, and a troubled childhood that would haunt him until his death in 2001. Journalist Steve Lowenthal attempts to unravel that myth that is Fahey's life in this concise biography. Somewhat short at 240 pages, Dance of Death benefits from astute research and interviews with friends, contemporaries, fellow musicians, and family, painting a vivid picture of a remarkable man. Fahey's legendary rage and audience baiting is discussed, as are his numerous marriages, so many seemingly sabotaged by a man whose difficulty relating to others nearly exceeded his guitar skill. Of course, Lowenthal eventually finds Fahey living in squalor out of motels, with little to his name. But despite Fahey's rise and disgraceful fall, it's the music that lives on. The marvelous music. A new form. Genius. (

Author rating: 7/10

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