James Edward ‘‘Blind Ed’’ Haley, born in 1883, was a legendary old-time country fiddler. His style influenced almost every musician who heard him, though he had to be heard on a street or courthouse square or other public place where he made his living. He never played on the radio or made any commercial records, but his influence on such musicians as Clark Kessinger and Georgia Slim Rutland has echoes today in modern contest fiddling.
For years, fiddle historians and tune collectors had been hearing about him throughout eastern Kentucky, southeastern Ohio, and West Virginia. Eventually, Mark Wilson and Gus Meade through fiddler J. P. Fraley and his wife, Annadeene, located Haley’s son, Lawrence, in Ashland, Kentucky. Lawrence had extensive home recordings of his father. The Library of Congress was allowed to make copies and some were released on a Rounder Records album, Parkersburg Landing, and on two Rounder compact disk sets. Because he lived most of his life in the Ashland area he has been called a Kentucky fiddler, but Blind Ed Haley was from Harts Creek, Logan County. He died February 4, 1951.
Written by John Hartford