Quirky and Eclectic Musician Blaze Foley
Austin has been home to lots of quirky and eclectic musicians and Blaze Foley ranks at the top of the list. His given name was Michael David Fuller and although he was raised in Texas, he was born in a small Arkansas town called Malvern. Blaze wore duct taped cowboy boots as he had little patience for urban type cowboys who wore fancy metal tipped boots. He could be frequently seen in South Austin as he sported his famous duct taped suit. Blaze was close friends with the late Townes van Zandt who claimed that “Blaze went crazy once and decided to stay.”
Any listener to the music of Blaze will be knocked out by similarities to major country and folk artists, some of whom have recorded Foley’s tunes. Lyle Lovett covered “Election Day,” while John Prine did “Clay Pigeons.”
“If I Could Fly” has been seen as a tribute to the style of Merle Haggard. If one listens closely to “The Way You Smile,” one can easily hear the basis for a recent Ryan Bingham hit. Other artists, like Lucinda Williams, have recorded tributes to Blaze. Kevin Triplett produced a film about Blaze called “Blaze Foley: Duct Tape Messiah.”
The storied life of a musician wasn’t all fun and games for Blaze, however. Tapes from an early album were taken by the DEA. Foley had stored masters for another album in an old car and they were promptly stolen. Other master tapes became entangled in various legal battles or lost in natural disasters. Ultimately, Blaze was shot and killed by a man named Carey January who was the son of a friend. January was later set free as his plea of self-defense was accepted by the jury at his trial.