John Aloysius Fahey (February 28, 1939 – February 22, 2001) was an American fingerstyle guitarist and composer who played 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 and bluestraditions 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. He spent many of his later years in poverty and poor health, but enjoyed a minor career resurgence with a turn towards the more explicitly avant-garde, and created a series of abstract paintings during the last years of his life. 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.