John Fahey's first album, Blind Joe Death, is significant in that it was one of the first albums to be recorded and produced by an 'independent artist'. The fact that only 100 copies were pressed of that original version is incredible and makes it extremely rare.
Initially released in 1959 in a very limited edition, one side of the record was credited to a mythical bluesman named Blind Joe Death, while the other side was credited to Fahey himself. The recording of steel string acoustic guitar solos was "incredibly avant-garde" in 1959. It was released on Takoma Records, Fahey's own creation.
Its popularity, significance in guitar music, and critical reception has steadily increased over the years. The 1967 release received five stars in the second edition of the Rolling Stone Record Guide.
Music historian Richie Unterberger characterized the impact of Blind Joe Death, noting it as being "a very interesting record from a historical perspective...as few if any other guitarists were attempting to interpret blues and folk idioms in such an idiosyncratic fashion in the late '50s and early '60s."
On April 6, 2011, the album was deemed by the Library of Congress to be "culturally, historically, or aesthetically important" and added to the United States National Recording Registry for the year 2010.