Buddy Guy Biography

George Guy, 30 July 1936, Lettsworth, Louisiana, USA. An impassioned and influential guitarist, Buddy Guy learned to play the blues on a rudimentary, home made instrument, copying records he heard on the radio. By the mid-50s he was sitting in with several of the region’s leading performers, including Slim Harpo and Lightnin’ Slim. In 1957 Guy moved north to Chicago. He initially joined the Rufus Foreman Band but was quickly established as an artist in his own right. The guitarist’s first single was released the following year, but his career prospered on meeting Willie Dixon. This renowned composer/bass player brought the young musician to Chess Records where, as part of the company’s house band, he appeared on sessions by Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. Guy also made several recordings in his own right, of which the frenzied ‘First Time I Met The Blues’ and the gutsy ‘Stone Crazy’ are particularly memorable. As well as pursuing his own direction, Guy also established a fruitful partnership with Junior Wells. Having completed telling contributions to the harpist’s early releases, Hoodoo Man Blues and It’s My Life, Baby, the guitarist recorded a series of excellent albums for the Vanguard Records label that combined classic ‘Chicago’ blues with contemporary soul styles. His fiery playing was rarely better and Guy won attention from the rock audience through appearances at the Fillmore auditorium and his support slot on the Rolling Stones’ 1970 tour.

The artist’s career lost momentum during the 70s as the passion that marked his early work receded. Guy nonetheless retained a considerable following on the international circuit. In 1990 he was one of the guests during Eric Clapton’s memorable blues night at London’s Royal Albert Hall. The following year he signed a recording contract with Silvertone Records and released the magnificent Damn Right, I’ve Got The Blues, which was recorded with the assistance of Clapton, Jeff Beck and Mark Knopfler. The critical acclaim put Guy firmly back into the higher echelon of outstanding blues guitarists currently performing. This standing was further enhanced by 1993’s excellent Feels Like Rain. The trilogy of comeback albums was completed with Slippin’ In in 1994, although for many listeners this was an anti-climactic and disappointing record. The follow-up Live: The Real Deal was an excellent live album recorded with G.E. Smith and the Saturday Night Live Band.

Guy carried on recording for the Silvertone label into the new millennium, and in 2002 won three prestigious W.C. Handy awards. In March 2005, he was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Guy represents the last strand linking the immortal Chicago bluesmen of the 50s with the contemporary blues scene.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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