Joe Bussard

Joe Bussard (born Joseph E. Bussard, Jr., July 11, 1936 in Frederick, Maryland, United States) is an American collector of 78-rpm records.

Joe Bussard
Bussard talking about 78s
Background information
Birth nameJoseph E. Bussard Jr.
Born (1936-07-11) July 11, 1936
OriginFrederick, Maryland, United States
Occupation(s)Record collector
Years active1951–present

Early life

Bussard was born on July 11, 1936 in Frederick, Maryland. He has always had the collecting bug: in his teens, he and his cousin collected everything from rare coins to beehives to birds' nests. His dislike for modern music, especially hip hop and rock and roll, has been well documented.[1]

Adult life

Bussard maintains a collection of more than 15,000 records, primarily of American folk, gospel, and blues from the 1920s and 1930s, believed to be one of the largest (and best quality) in the world.

He was the subject of a documentary film, Desperate Man Blues, and his collection was mined for a compilation CD, Down in the Basement. He has gleefully shared his collection, which includes many only-known-copies of records, best-known-copies, and numerous reissue labels as well as work with individuals for whom he has taped recordings from his collection for a nominal sum for decades.

From 1956 until 1970, he ran the last 78 rpm record label, Fonotone, which was dedicated to the release of new recordings of old-time music. Among these were recordings by hundreds of performers, including the first recordings by the guitarist John Fahey. A five-CD anthology of Fonotone releases was issued in 2005 by Dust-to-Digital.

Bussard currently produces a weekly music program, Country Classics, for Georgia Tech's radio station, WREK Atlanta. He has radio programs on three other stations: WPAQ-AM 740 in Mount Airy, North Carolina, WELD-AM 690 in Fisher, West Virginia, and WTHU-AM 1450 in Thurmont, Maryland.

Bussard does not like the city of Nashville, Tennessee, sometimes called "Music City". Instead, he calls it "Trashville."[2]


  • Beaujon, Andrew (2006-02-24), "Shellac of Faith", Washington City Paper, archived from the original on 2007-09-27, retrieved 2007-04-11
  • Dean, Eddie (1998-02-12), "Desperate Man Blues: Record collector Joe Bussard parties like it's 1929", Washington City Paper, retrieved 2007-08-20


  1. Desperate Man Blues: Discovering the Roots of American Music. Dir. Edward Gillan. 2006. DVD. Cube Media/Dust-to-Digital.
  2. "Records". The Jackson Sun. Jackson, Tennessee. August 19, 2001. p. 21. Retrieved April 7, 2018 via Nashville?" he'll spit. "More like Trashville.

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