Saturday, October 22, 2011



Another eastener kid (Baltimore) who came west and drew out remarkable music and songs to the lay of the land. In Robbie's hands it was all ragas.

Orphaned as an infant, Daniel Robinson, Jr. changed his name in the late 50s to Basho in honor of Matsuo Basho, the Japanese poet. He picked up his first guitar at the same time and moved quickly through various styles and techniques from the American blues and folk to a deep interest and study in eastern thought and music, taking his beloved 12-string guitar drone and tone closer to a sarod than most anyone. India and the North American Indian was much in his heart.

His first album appeared on John Fahey's Takoma label in 1965 and I highly recommend all the albums.

I'm concentrating here mainly off his ravishing Visions of the Country, from Windham Hill, where he also released a stunning album of classical 12-string compositions from the label.

Some say he was never long with this world, and may have even died a virgin. Thirty years ago he would write to me handwritten letters on his pad of yellow, lined stationary, often including his poems influenced by the American Indian. Money was always a problem, his health wasn't right, he never had a driver's license. Somehow he got east a few years before he passed away, way too young, and played a date one summer night in the small town of Buckland, Massachusetts. If you were there, you haven't forgotten.

Robbie Basho was born August 31, 1940 and died Feb 28, 1986 after a freak accident in the hands of his chiropractor. Apparently blood vessels in his neck were ruptured during a procedure which led to a fatal stroke.