18 December 1949
1 February 1989 (aged 39)
Blaze Foley (born Michael David Fuller in 18 December 1949 in Malvern, Arkansas; died 1 February 1989 in Austin, Texas) was an American singer-songwriter. He was shot and killed in 1989, at the age of 39, while trying to defend an elderly friend. During the late 1970s Blaze Foley & the Beaver Valley Boys were a big part of the Houston club scene.
Foley grew up in Texas. He performed in a gospel band called The Fuller Family with his mother and sisters. After leaving home, he performed in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston and finally Austin, Texas, where even in this city of non-conformists his unusual character was noticed. He slept on friend's couches or under pool-tables in bars. He made the Austin Outhouse his home. He was close friends with another Texas legend 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."
In 1989, Foley was shot to death while helping his friend Concho January defend himself from his violent son Carey January. Carey January was acquitted of murder in the first degree by reason of self-defense. Friends of Foley were outraged at the verdict.
Blaze Foley jokingly claimed to be the illegitimate son of Red Foley and Blaze Starr.
Blaze had a love affair with duct tape. Initially he placed duct tape on the tips of his cowboy boots to mock the "Urban Cowboy" crazed folks with their silver tipped cowboy boots. This love of duct tape grew until he'd 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. Townes Van Zandt was quoted as saying that "he'd have to dig Blaze up to get the pawn ticket for his guitar that was in his pocket".
The very emotional songs Foley wrote were marked by honesty. They were about all things in life, from love songs to sharp political commentary. Because of the latter one of his master tapes is rumored to have been confiscated by the FBI (or the DEA).
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 featured prominently in a feature-length documentary film about him entitled "Blaze Foley: Duct Tape Messiah," released in 2011 by filmmaker Kevin Triplett
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