I’m 74 Years Young
Buddy Guy (1936-Forever)
I have always found it fascinating that greatest Blues Guitarists who influenced Buddy, were actually influenced by him in great length.
Buddy Guy’s showmanship and at the same time modesty is worth its own story. Never dreaming of reaching any heights, he was beyond happy just being near his favorite Bluesmen.
Born in Louisiana’s countryside, without ever seeing running water until he was in his late teens. His first guitar experience was with a rubber band, then a two stringer which he made on his own (out of windscreen strings used to protect windows from mosquitoes) and taught himself how to play. This was after hearing a friend of the family come visit for Christmas and play John Lee Hooker’s “Boogie Chillin”.
Exposed to the great Delta Blues Musicians of that time, Buddy began performing in the area of Baton Rouge before moving to Chicago in late 1950’s. His showmanship was borrowed from Guitar Slim, a Bluesman known for his playing from outside the club with a 150-ft chord and entering the bars on top of another man’s shoulders all while playing a Strat.
In Chicago, Buddy Guy began visiting Blues Clubs on all sides of town and listening to Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, Junior Wells, Sonny Boy, Otis Spahn, Hubert Sumlin and many others in their prime. Being able to be used as session guitarist in Chess Records, Buddy managed two different Blues Guitar lives. One when he was performing – a wild side with or without clothes and being all over the place. Another – always being behind the star who was recording in the studio, just being there and doing what he is told. Buddy recalls those times as being on top of the world. It seemed as all his dreams came true while he was meeting more and more Blues Musicians.
Buddy Guy’s career continues to flourish now in his late 70’s. A Polka-Dot Strat, huge smile on his face and soul-burning licks either on stadiums or in his own Blues Club – Buddy Guy’s Legends in Chicago. Every time you would think it does not get any better, he comes out and plays one louder, one smoother, one more blue note and one meaner tune. He is keeping the Blues alive as he had promised those with whom he made it into what it is. Through him there will be others always keeping the Blues alive.
Buddy Guy’s Gear
- Guitar: Buddy is known for his signature Polka-Dot Fender Stratocaster. His main axe is a cream-colored Strat.
- Amplifiers: Passion for vintage tweed Fender amps and custom built Chicago workshop amps made after Fender Bassman.
- Guitar Strings: Ernie Ball .11 strings.
- Guitar Picks: Dunlop custom made 0.73 (ish) picks.
Buddy Guy’s Influence
Mr. Guy has been my personal influence and teacher. A belief that all things are possible regardless of your background, resources or any factors for that reason. I have always listened to his unique but most versatile style of playing with some extent of curiosity. It is almost as if his music answers my questions which I cannot even ask. It’s the feeling that got me closer in my search for Blues Guitar.
I had the greatest blessing of seeing BG live a couple of times and both of them I could not stay still. The memories will remain forever and I will share them with the kids down the road.
I wish I could come to the man at some point and exchange a few words with him as he did with the greats of his time. I wish Buddy Guy lives for decades to come and enjoys what he does as sincerely as he did back in Baton Rouge. Hopefully at some point, I will be able to express my respect to the man himself. Hopefully, influenced by him, I will be a part of what will keep their legacy.
Thank you Buddy Guy, for sincere, unhinged, passionate protection of what kept so many people from despair and gave so many others hope and strength to move on. Thank you for keeping the Blues alive.