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Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon

Buddy Guy is a guitarists’ guitarist….the following comments illustrate this:

Clapton said in a 1985 Musician magazine article that “Buddy Guy is by far and without a doubt the best guitar player alive…if you see him in person, the way he plays is beyond anyone. Total freedom of spirit, I guess. He really changed the course of rock and roll blues.”

Jimi Hendrix himself once said that “Heaven is lying at Buddy Guy’s feet while listening to him play guitar.”

Stevie Ray Vaughan once declared that Buddy Guy “plays from a place that I’ve never heard anyone play.” “Buddy can go from one end of the spectrum to another. He can play quieter than anybody I’ve ever heard, or wilder and louder than anybody I’ve ever heard. I play pretty loud a lot of times, but Buddy’s tones are incredible. He pulls such emotion out of so little volume. Buddy just has this cool feel to everything he does. And when he sings, it’s just compounded. Girls fall over and sweat and die!”

Jeff Beck : “Geez, you can’t forget Buddy Guy. He transcended blues and started becoming theater. It was high art, kind of like drama theater when he played, you know. He was playing behind his head long before Hendrix. I once saw him throw the guitar up in the air and catch it in the same chord.”

Jimmy Page: “Buddy Guy is an absolute monster” and “There were a number of albums that everybody got tuned into in the early days. There was one in particular called, I think, American Folk Festival Of The Blues, which featured Buddy Guy. He just astounded everybody.”
Bill Wyman: “Guitar Legends do not come any better than Buddy Guy. He is feted by his peers and loved by his fans for his ability to make the guitar both talk and cry the blues. Such is Buddy’s mastery of the guitar that there is virtually no guitarist that he cannot imitate.”

Although Buddy Guy’s music is often labeled Chicago blues, his style is unique as it often moves towards jazz and hard rock.

Born in Louisiana in 1936  Guy moved to Chicago in 1957 and immediately fell under the spell of Muddy Waters. He had an inconsistent start to his recording career with Chess but in the 80’s was able to reassert himself with the help of Clapton who was able to include him in the ‘ 24 nights’ all star series of concerts in London. Following this ‘revival’ of his fortunes Guy has gone from strength to strength:

New York Times music critic Jon Pareles noted in 2004:

Mr. Guy, 68, mingles anarchy, virtuosity, deep blues and hammy shtick in ways that keep all eyes on him… [Guy] loves extremes: sudden drops from loud to soft, or a sweet, sustained guitar solo followed by a jolt of speed, or a high, imploring vocal cut off with a rasp…Whether he’s singing with gentle menace or bending new curves into a blue note, he is a master of tension and release, and his every wayward impulse was riveting.

Lets hear some music:

Here is an early vid of Buddy playing Texas Blues in 1969

First time I met the blues   1970

Sweet Home Chicago:

I can’t quit you baby

Two greats -BG with BB King -two great showmen

Remembering Muddy…Hoochie Coochie Man  -live in 2010

Buddy Guy and Junior Wells

Buddy Guy and Junior Wells were great friends

Compare the electric with an acoustic version of  Hoochie Coochie Man…..

And if you liked that acoustic number , you will love  …  Can’t be satisfied

Early video of a young Buddy in the 60’s -Let me Love You

Great guitar and vocals work on My Time After a While:

A wild version of Mustang Sally from Montreaux showing his great stage presence plus great guitar work

Buddy , like John Lee Hooker has become a great collaborator -here are some examples

First with Big Mama Thornton -Hound Dog

Buddy Guy and Stevie Ray Vaughan

A great version of a classic blues -Stormy Monday – with Carlos Santana – 2004

With Jonny Lang in 1997 – Little by Little

With Jeff Beck in 2009  Let me Love You

With Susan Tedeschi -Feels like Rain -at the Montreal Jazz Festival 2009

and there are some great versions of …I’m 74 years young…and he proves it

Buddy Guy still records with BB King and here they are reminiscing:

During his 50-year career, the 74-year-old Guy has earned 23 W.C. Handy Awards, won the first annual Great Performer of Illinois award, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and received the Presidential National Medal of the Arts. His influence as a guitarist has extended from Jimi Hendrix to Eric Clapton to Stevie Ray Vaughan. Asked what he considers himself “living proof” of, Guy said: “Do you know how many guys I started out with who just threw up both hands and quit? My first wife said to me, ‘It’s me or the guitar,’ and I picked up my guitar and left. We still laugh about that. But I’m still picking away at it.”