February 4, 1951: Fiddler "Blind Ed" Haley Dies in Ashland KY

Feb 4, 2019

However, just by playing on street corners, courthouse squares, and other public places, Haley became one of the most influential fiddlers of his day. Fiddle great Clark Kessinger considered him the best he’d ever heard.
Credit e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

Legendary fiddler “Blind Ed” Haley died in Ashland, Kentucky, on February 4, 1951.

The Logan County native never made any commercial recordings during his lifetime because he feared that record companies would cheat a blind musician. However, just by playing on street corners, courthouse squares, and other public places, he became one of the most influential fiddlers of his day. Fiddle great Clark Kessinger considered him the best he’d ever heard.

For years after Haley’s death, stories circulated about the fiddler’s remarkable talent. Without recordings, though, music enthusiasts were left to their imaginations. But it turned out that Haley’s son had saved some home recordings. The Library of Congress made copies of these, which became the basis for two albums from Rounder Records.

Blind Ed Haley’s influence is still apparent in the styles of some of today’s best fiddlers.