Blaze Foley

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Blaze Foley
Birth name Michael David Fuller
Born (1949-12-18)December 18, 1949
Malvern, Arkansas
Died February 1, 1989(1989-02-01) (aged 39)
Austin, Texas

Michael David Fuller (December 18, 1949 – February 1, 1989), better known under the stage name Blaze Foley, was an American country music singer-songwriter.


Foley was born Michael David Fuller in Malvern, Arkansas, but grew up in Texas. He performed in a gospel band called The Singing Fuller Family with his mother, brother and sisters.[1] After leaving home, he performed in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, and finally Austin, Texas. He was close friends with Townes Van Zandt.

His song "If I Could Only Fly" became a hit in the interpretation of Merle Haggard. His song "Election Day" was covered by Lyle Lovett on his 2003 album My Baby Don't Tolerate and his song "Clay Pigeons" was covered by John Prine on his Grammy Award winning 2005 album Fair and Square. Joe Nichols paid tribute to "If I Could Only Fly" by recording it for his album Real Things released in 2007.

In 1989, Foley was shot in the chest and killed by Carey January, the son of Foley's friend Concho January. Carey January was acquitted of murder in the first degree by reason of self-defense. He and his father presented completely different versions of the shooting at trial.[2]

Foley's stage name was influenced by his admiration of Red Foley.[3]

Foley placed duct tape on the tips of his cowboy boots to mock the "Urban Cowboy" crazed folks with their silver tipped cowboy boots. He later made a suit out of duct tape that he used to walk around in. At his funeral, his casket was coated with duct tape by his friends.[4] Townes Van Zandt has told a story in which he and his musicians went to Foley's grave to dig up his body because they wanted the pawn ticket that Foley had for Townes' guitar.[3]

Music and lyrics[edit]

The master tapes from his first studio album were confiscated by the DEA when the executive producer was caught in a drug bust.[5]:190 Another studio album disappeared when the master copies were in a station wagon, which Foley had been given and lived in. The station wagon was broken into and his belongings stolen.[5]:180 A third studio album, Wanted More Dead Than Alive, had almost disappeared until, many years after Blaze died, a friend who was cleaning out his car discovered what sounded like the Bee Creek recording sessions on which he and other musicians had performed. This album was Foley's last studio project and he was scheduled to tour the UK with Townes Van Zandt in support of the album. When Foley died, his attorney immediately nullified the recording contract and the master tapes subsequently went missing (and reportedly were lost in a flood).

Foley worked among others with Gurf Morlix, Townes Van Zandt, Guy Schwartz, Billy Block, and Calvin Russell.

Townes Van Zandt wrote the song "Blaze's Blues" about his friend and recorded it a few times, notably on his 2-disc Live at Union Chapel, London, England album. Townes reportedly composed "Marie," a song about a homeless couple, on Blaze's guitar after Blaze had died.

The song "Drunken Angel" by Lucinda Williams, which appears on her 1998 album Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, is a tribute to Foley.[6]

Gurf Morlix released a song on his 2009 album Last Exit to Happyland entitled "Music You Mighta Made" about his longtime friend, Foley. On February 1, 2011, Morlix released Blaze Foley's 113th Wet Dream, a 15-song collection of Foley's songs.

Three songs, posthumously co-written by Jon Hogan at the request of the Foley estate, were released in 2010 on the album Every Now and Then: Songs of Townes Van Zandt & Blaze Foley." They include "Every Now and Then," "Safe in the Arms of Love," and "Can't Always Cry."

Foley's music is featured prominently in a feature-length documentary film about him entitled Blaze Foley: Duct Tape Messiah, released in 2011 by filmmaker Kevin Triplett.

Foley's song "Let Me Ride in Your Big Cadillac" featured prominently at the end of Episode 8 of the first season of "Preacher."

The song "Reverend" by Kings of Leon, which appears on their 2016 album "WALLS", is a tribute to Foley.


About Foley[edit]


  • If I Could Only Fly/Let Me Ride In Your Big Cadillac (Zephyr Records; 7" 45-only release; 1000) 1979
  • Blaze Foley (Vital Records; LP-only release; 7497-33) 1984
  • Girl Scout Cookies/Oval Room (Vital Records; 7" 45-only release; 7077) 1984
  • Live At the Austin Outhouse (...And Not There) (Outhouse Records; cassette-only release) 1989
  • Live At the Austin Outhouse (Lost Art Records) 1999
  • Oval Room (Lost Art Records) 2004, (Munic/Indigo) 2005
  • Wanted More Dead Than Alive (Waddell Hollow Records) 2005
  • Cold Cold World (Lost Art Records) 2006
  • Sittin' by the Road (Lost Art Records) 2010
  • The Dawg Years (Fat Possum Records) 2010
  • Duct Tape Messiah Documentary Soundtrack (Lost Art Records) 2011
  • Blaze Foley (Big Pink re-issue of Vital Records LP) 2012

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Jasinski, Laurie E. (2012). Handbook of Texas Music. Texas A&M University Press. p. 566. 
  2. ^ Delgato, Berta, "Self-defense claimed in singer's death", Austin American Statesman, September 28, 1989, p. B1.
  3. ^ a b Nichols, Lee (24 December 1999). "A Walking Contradiction". Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  4. ^ Hardy, Robert Earl (2008). A Deeper Blue: The Life and Music of Townes Van Zandt. p. 208. 
  5. ^ a b Rosen, Sybil (2008). Living in the Woods in a Tree: Remembering Blaze Foley. University of North Texas Press. 
  6. ^ Buford, Bill (5 June 2000). "Delta Nights - A singer's love affair with loss". The New Yorker. Retrieved 23 February 2017.