uddy Guy has always been a legend in my mind but I guess I’m lucky. Growing up in Chicago, the blues is all around you whether you see it or not and it’s hard not to know Buddy Guy. He has his own club downtown called Legends but before that, there was a legend of Buddy Guy that lived in Chicago. My aunt was able to experience it fully as she saw Buddy Guy play hundreds of times in the late 80s and 90s, but Buddy Guy has been known for his explosive on-stage persona since the late 60s. His performances always crescendo with a traveling guitar solo that would sometimes end up blocking traffic in the city streets. Thank God for wireless electric guitars. In terms of on-stage shitcks, this is top notch. The fourth wall between performer and audience is completely broken as you begin to realize a guitar legend is playing three feet from you as he playfully walks down the aisle of a fancy theater. Buddy continues this tradition to this day even as his 86th birthday approaches in July.
Although, like with any legend, there is a rags to riches story behind it. George “Buddy” Guy was a sharecropper’s son in Louisiana and his musical prowess began on a three-stringed makeshift guitar. His passion drove him to Chicago but he received the cold, cold shoulder. He was brought to a point of desperation until a chance audition got him noticed by Muddy Waters. He entered a group of the most talented musicians ever and they also shared another characteristic. They were largely ignored, unrecognized until the bands that were inspired by them insisted they be listened to.
Buddy Guy made this point very clear at his show in Denver in late April 2022. He told an anecdote of the Rolling Stones being invited to a big blues festival and they demanded Muddy Waters be added to the lineup. The promoters laughed and asked who that was. They didn’t know the Rolling Stones were named after a Muddy Water song. This is a perfect example of how Black blues musicians were treated during the aptly named “British Invasion” in the 60s.
Buddy Guy is one of those musicians that have been subtly influencing the entire idea of blues/rock music and guitar playing since it became a thing. There is a story that Jimi Hendrix humbly asked Buddy Guy to record one of his live shows. There’s no doubt a bit of that wild Buddy Guy energy rubbed off on Hendrix and many prominent guitarists at the time. Including Eric Clapton. Eric Clapton was heavily influenced by Guy and it wasn't until he requested Buddy Guy’s presence at the ‘24 Nights’ Blues All Star Concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall that he would get a serious record deal. Buddy Guy's song 'Watch Yourself' appeared on Clapton's subsequent album.
This doesn’t have much to do with chickens or eggs as much as it does with respecting your elders. That’s what Buddy Guy does with his shows in 2022, he keeps the Blues alive with epic renditions of Muddy Waters, B.B. King and John Lee Hooker tunes. He also takes you on a journey through his own discography that is not only prolific but powerful. He had the whole crowd at Denver’s Paramount Theatre hypnotized as he led them through a sing along of his dreamy ballad, ‘Skin Deep’. He also played an explosive take on his 1991 tune, ‘Damn Right, I’ve Got The Blues’ that had everyone grooving and moving. And of course, near the end of the show he vanished from the stage. He eventually appeared with a polk-a-dot guitar walking down my aisle and effortlessly delivered a flawless solo. He does all this at 85 and we love him for it.
Buddy Guy is keeping the Blues alive all summer long on his tour. Be sure to catch him on one of his many dates.