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Buddy Guy

Buddy Guy is one of the most celebrated blues guitarists of his generation (and arguably the most celebrated), possessing a sound and style that embodied the traditions of classic Chicago blues while also embracing the fire and flash of rock & roll. Guy spent much of his career as a well-regarded journeymen, cited as a modern master by contemporary blues fans but not breaking through to a larger audience, before he finally caught the brass ring in the 1990s and released a series of albums that made him one of the biggest blues acts of the day, a seasoned veteran with a modern edge. And few guitarists of any genre have enjoyed the respect of their peers as Guy has, with such giants as Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Keith Richards, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Mark Knopfler all citing him as a personal favorite.

George "Buddy" Guy was born in Lettsworth, Louisiana on July 30, 1936, and is said to have first learned to play on a homemade two-string instrument fashioned from wire and tin cans. Guy graduated to an acoustic guitar, and began soaking up the influences of blues players such as T-Bone Walker, B.B. King, and Lightnin' Hopkins; as his family relocated to Baton Rouge, Guy had the opportunity to see live performances by Lightnin' Slim (aka Otis Hicks) and Guitar Slim, whose raw, forceful sound and over the top showmanship left a serious impression on Guy. Guy started playing professionally when he became a sideman for John "Big Poppa" Tilley, where he learned to work the crowd and overcome early bouts of stage fright. In 1957, Guy cut a demo tape at a local radio station and sent a copy to Chess Records, the label that was home to such giants as Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, and Etta James, shortly before buying a one-way train ticket and moving to Chicago, eager to make music his career.

Guy didn't enjoy immediate success in Chicago, and struggled to find gigs until his fiery guitar work and flashy stage style (which included hopping on top of bars and strutting up and down their length while soloing, thanks to a 100-foot long guitar cable) made him a regular winner in talent night contests at Windy City clubs. Guy struck up friendships with some of the city's best blues artists, including Muddy Waters, Otis Rush, Freddie King, and Magic Sam, and landed a steady gig at the 708 Club, where he became known as a talent to watch. In 1958, Magic Sam arranged for Guy to meet Harold Burrage, the owner of local blues label Cobra Records, and Guy was soon signed to Cobra's sister label Artistic Records. Willie Dixon produced Guy's debut single, "Sit and Cry (The Blues)," as well as the follow-up, "This Is the End," but in 1959, Cobra and Artistic abruptly closed up shop, and like labelmate Otis Rush, Guy found a new record deal at Chess. Guy's first single for Chess, 1960's "First Time I Met the Blues," was an artistic triumph and a modest commercial success that became one of his signature tunes, but it was also the first chapter in what would prove to be a complicated creative relationship between Guy and label co-founder Leonard Chess, who recognized his talent but didn't appreciate the louder and more expressive aspects of his guitar style. While Guy enjoyed minor successes with outstanding Chess singles such as "Stone Crazy" and "When My Left Eye Jumps," much of his work for the label was as a sideman, lending his talents to sessions for Muddy Waters, Koko Taylor, Howlin' Wolf, Little Walter, and many others. And one of Guy's definitive recordings of the '60s wasn't even issued by Chess; Guy had been performing occasionally with blues harpist Junior Wells, and Guy and his band backed up Wells on the 1965 Delmark release Hoodoo Man Blues, a masterful exercise in the Chicago blues style, with Guy credited as "Friendly Chap" on initial pressings in deference to his contract with Chess.

Chess didn't issue an album on Guy until the 1967 release of I Left My Blues in San Francisco, and when his contract with the label ran out, he promptly signed with Vanguard, who put out A Man and the Blues in 1968. As a growing number of rock fans were discovering the blues, Guy was finding his stock rising with both traditional blues enthusiasts and younger white audiences, and his recordings for Vanguard gave him more room for the tougher and more aggressive sound that was the trademark of his live shows. (It didn't hurt that Jimi Hendrix acknowledged Guy as an influence and praised his live show in interviews.) At the same time, Guy hadn't forsaken the more measured approach he used with Junior Wells; Buddy and Wells cut an album that also featured Junior Mance on piano for Blue Thumb called Buddy and the Juniors, and in 1972, Eric Clapton partnered with Ahmet Ertegun and Tom Dowd to produce the album Buddy Guy and Junior Wells Play the Blues. In 1974, Guy and Wells played the Montreux Jazz Festival, with Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones sitting in on bass; the show was later released as a live album, Drinkin' TNT and Smokin' Dynamite, with Wyman credited as producer.

By the end of the '70s, Guy was without an American record deal, and his career took a hit as a result; while he recorded some material for specialist labels in Europe and Japan, and Alligator issued two collections in 1981, Alone and Acoustic and Stone Crazy, for the most part Guy supported himself in the '80s through extensive touring and live work, often appearing in Europe, where he seemed better respected than in the United States. Despite this, he continued to plug away at the American market, buoyed by interest from guitar buffs who had heard major stars sing his praises; in 1985, Eric Clapton told a reporter for Musician magazine, "Buddy Guy is by far and without a doubt the best guitar player alive...he really changed the course of rock & roll blues," while Vaughan declared, "Without Buddy Guy, there would be no Stevie Ray Vaughan." In 1989, Guy opened his own nightclub in Chicago, Buddy Guy's Legends, where he frequently performed and played host to other top blues acts, and in 1991, after a well-received appearance with Clapton at London's Royal Albert Hall (documented in part on the album 24 Nights), he finally scored an international record deal with the Silvertone label, distributed by BMG. Guy's first album for Silvertone, Damn Right, I've Got the Blues, featured guest appearances by Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Mark Knopfler, and featured fresh versions of several fan favorites as well as a handful of new tunes; it was the Buddy Guy album that finally clicked with record buyers, and became a genuine hit, earning Guy a gold album, as well as a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album. Guy wasted no time cutting follow-ups, releasing Feels Like Rain in 1993 and Slippin' In in 1994, both of which racked up solid sales figures and won Guy further Grammy Awards.

In 1993, Guy reunited with Junior Wells on the stage of his Legends club; it would prove to be one of Wells' last live performances, and the show was released in 1998, several months after Wells' passing, on the album Last Time Around: Live at Legends. While most of Guy's work in the late '90s and into the new millennium was the sort of storming Chicago blues that was the basis of his reputation, he also demonstrated he was capable of exploring other avenues, channeling the hypnotic Deep Southern blues of Junior Kimbrough on 2001's Sweet Tea and covering a set of traditional blues classics on acoustic guitar for 2003's Blues Singer. In 2004, Guy won the W.C. Handy Award from the American Blues Foundation for the 23rd time, more than any other artist, while he took home his sixth Grammy Award in 2010 for the album Living Proof. Guy also received the National Medal of the Arts in 2003, and was awarded with Kennedy Center Honors in 2012. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005, with both Eric Clapton and B.B. King presenting him with his award, and in 2012 he performed a special concert at the White House, where he persuaded President Barack Obama to join him at the vocal mike for a few choruses of "Sweet Home Chicago." Guy continued his late-career revival with the 2012 memoir When I Left Home: My Story and the summer 2013 release of the ambitious, guest star-laden double album Rhythm & Blues. The record reached number one on Billboard's Top Blues Albums chart and 27 on their Top 200. Two years later, Guy returned with Born to Play Guitar, another album recorded with producer Tom Hambridge, who had helmed the guitarist's albums since 2008's Skin Deep. ~ Mark Deming
full bio

Selected Discography


Track List: Born To Play Guitar

1. Born To Play Guitar

2. Wear You Out (Feat. Billy Gibbons)

3. Back Up Mama

4. Too Late (Feat. Kim Wilson)

5. Whiskey, Beer & Wine

6. Kiss Me Quick (Feat. Kim Wilson)

7. Crying Out Of One Eye

8. (Baby) You Got What It Takes (Feat. Joss Stone)

9. Turn Me Wild

10. Crazy World

11. Smarter Than I Was

12. Thick Like Mississippi Mud

13. Flesh & Bone (Dedicated To B.B. King) (Feat. Van Morrison)

14. Come Back Muddy


Track List: Live At Legends

1. Intro

2. Best Damn Fool

3. Mannish Boy

4. I Just Want To Make Love To You

5. Skin Deep

6. Damn Right I Got The Blues

7. Boom Boom/Strange Brew

8. Voodoo Chile/Sunshine Of Your Love

9. Polka Dot Love

10. Coming For You

11. Country Boy


Track List: Living Proof

1. 74 Years Young

2. Thank Me Someday

3. On The Road

4. Stay Around A Little Longer

5. Key Don't Fit

6. Living Proof

7. Where The Blues Begins

8. Too Soon

9. Everybody's Got To Go

10. Let The Door Knob Hit Ya

11. Guess What

12. Skanky


Track List: Skin Deep

1. Best Damn Fool

2. Too Many Tears

3. Lyin' Like A Dog

4. Show Me The Money

6. Out In The Woods

7. Hammer And A Nail

8. That's My Home

9. Skin Deep

10. Who's Gonna Fill Those Shoes

11. Smell The Funk

12. I Found Happiness


Track List: Bring 'em In

1. Now You're Gone

2. Ninety Nine And One Half

3. What Kind Of Woman Is This

4. Somebody's Sleeping In My Bed

5. I Put A Spell On You (Feat. Carlos Santana)

6. On A Saturday Night

7. Ain't No Sunshine (Feat. Tracy Chapman)

8. I've Got Dreams To Remember (Feat. John Mayer)

9. Lay Lady Lay (Feat. Anthony Hamilton & Robert Randolph)

10. Cheaper To Keep Her/Blues In The Night

11. Cut You Loose

12. The Price You Gotta Pay (Feat. Keith Richards)

13. Do Your Thing


Track List: Blues Singer

1. Hard Time Killing Floor

2. Crawlin' Kingsnake

3. Lucy Mae Blues

4. Can't See Baby

5. I Love The Life I Live

6. Louise McGhee

7. Moanin' And Groanin'

8. Black Cat Blues

9. Bad Life Blues

10. Sally Mae

11. Anna Lee

12. Lonesome Home Blues


Track List: Sweet Tea

1. Done Got Old

2. Baby Please Don't Leave Me

3. Look What All You Got

4. Stay All Night

5. Tramp

6. She's Got The Devil In Her

8. Who's Been Foolin' You

9. It's A Jungle Out There


Track List: Damn Right, I've Got The Blues

1. Damn Right, I've Got The Blues

2. Where Is The Next One Coming From

3. Five Long Years

4. Mustang Sally

5. There Is Something On Your Mind

6. Early In The Morning

7. Too Broke To Spend The Night

8. Black Night

9. Let Me Love You Baby

10. Rememberin' Stevie

11. Doin' What I Like Best

12. Trouble Don't Last


Track List: Live At The Checkerboard Lounge

2. Done Got Over You

3. I've Got A Right To Love My Woman

5. The Things I Used To Do

8. Get Up Get Down

9. Don't Answer The Door


Track List: Breaking Out

1. Have You Ever Been Lonesome

2. You Can Make It If You Try

3. Break Out All Over You

4. She Winked Her Eye

5. I Didn't Know My Mother Had A Son Like Me

6. Boogie Family Style

7. You Called Me In My Dream

8. Me & Guitar

9. Breaking Out On Top

10. Skin & Bones/Money

11. Love Is Like Quicksand

12. Ice Around My Heart

13. Texas Flood


Track List: Stone Crazy

1. I Smell A Rat

2. Are You Losing Your Mind?

3. You've Been Gone Too Long

4. She's Out There Somewhere

5. Outskirts Of Town

6. When I Left Home


Track List: Buddy & The Juniors

1. Talkin' 'Bout Women Obviously

2. Riffin' (A.K.A. A Motif Is Just A Riff)

3. Buddy's Blues

4. Hoochie Coochie Man

5. Five Long Years

6. Rock Me Mama

7. Ain't No Need


Track List: A Man And The Blues

1. A Man And The Blues

2. I Can't Quit The Blues

3. Money (That's What I Want)

4. One Room Country Shack

5. Mary Had A Little Lamb

6. Just Playing My Axe

7. Sweet Little Angel

8. Worry, Worry

9. Jam On Monday Morning


Track List: Born To Play Guitar (Single)

1. Born To Play Guitar


Track List: Rhythm & Blues

1. Best In Town

2. Justifyin'

3. I Go By Feel

4. Messin' With The Kid

5. What's Up With That Woman

6. One Day Away

7. Well I Done Got Over It

8. What You Gonna Do About Me

9. The Devil's Daughter

10. Whiskey Ghost

11. Rhythm Inner Groove

12. Meet Me In Chicago

13. Too Damn Bad

14. Evil Twin

15. I Could Die Happy

16. Never Gonna Change

17. All That Makes Me Happy Is The Blues

18. My Mama Loved Me

19. Blues Don't Care

20. I Came Up Hard

21. Poison Ivy


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He's still putting on great shows, like last summer at the Bottle & Cork in Dewey Beach, De!
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He used to play Antones in Austin Texas on Guadalupe quite a bit. Managed to go back to the office and meet him a couple of times. Great guy and Fantastic guitarist .!!!
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Buddy is the man. Seen his several times. He loves the audience, seen him go out into the audience still playing and sit down on the grass next to a fan and keep playing at Starplex in Dallas during the blues festival. There is a reason Eric Clapton thinks he is one of his favorites and best in the world. Love ya Buddy. Can wait to see you again soon. Maybe at Legends in Chi town. Keep pickin bro
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Buddy Guy you're the king
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He is unreal live, he's not human
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This dude is outstanding. . . . . . . would love to see him live on stage.....An o t h e r new artist for me to enjoy......P a n d o r a has done it one more time........ . . .
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I first heard this song covered by J. Lee Hooker. This song has been covered by Clapton, B.B., among others. I like Buddy Guy's pretty cool interpretati o n though. Nice.
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Big Buddy Guy fan, but the influence of Junior Kimbrough is clear on this album, one which I own and enjoy.
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U bring life and joy to the human race. They will b playing u forever!
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awesome rockin' blues. thanks buddy
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He got that right it's cheaper to keeper
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Buddy guy you can jam out of control lets hear it baby.
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Buddy Guy's album Born To Play Guitar is the # 1 Blues album in the country!
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I love me some buddy guy
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Buddy Guy has a new album out today called Born To Play Guitar. Buddy pays homage to two of the fellow legends and friends who inspired him: Muddy Waters and B. B. King. Tracks include Come Back Muddy and Flesh & Bone, the latter dedicated to B. B. King and featuring Van Morrison.
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Easy on ears, & H. B. Dude
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love this one..... i got dreams to remember.gre a t slow dancing music
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I have been a Buddy Guy Fan since the early 70s. Messing With The Blues was shown on our PBS one Sunday night. It was the Austin City Limits show. At the time we had the Saturday Night Special with Wolf Man Jack. Those two Venues were the only way to find a Blues Act. Great times as a young man, I have loved the Blues all my life!
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Luv me sum buddy! Right to the SOUL!
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this song will make you feel like a real man
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Wow, my first intro to Buddy is here on Pandora - he ROCKS!
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Another great thing about BG if you ever see him live you will notice the young players on stage with him! A great and willing teacher helps keep the blues alive for the next generation!!
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Monster of a player and his style is often duplicated but never be but one B.G.!!!
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This is no music for cowards! Bless you Buddy Guy!
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The Best Hands down. Always a great show great performer
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jenkinnsdion 7 6
Was playin cards one night with friends when 'remembering stevie' came on. Started crying right there at the table! Been a fan from that day on. One smooth cat!
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Love this song!
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I saw him last year in VT. I was in the last row of the upper balcony in a small music room...He walked off stage and came and played 10' from me. Great Guy!!!
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Saw him at his club in Chicago this last week. Sat next to him watching the Blackhawks game
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Mmmmmm...... . .
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Simply put: A LEGEND...
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Seen him in Ventura Ca.Blew the roof off the place love the man !
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tell me whats inside of you by Buddy Guy is some great blues
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i absolutly love buddy guy
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Crown ..
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Saw him in a small University Concert Hall. Great acoustics; great guitarist
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I've seen Buddy twice so far. Both times he brought up young kids to play with him, the one (Quinn Sullivan) now has a couple of records out. I admire the music of Buddy Guy and I really appreciate that he is trying to pass down his teachings and keep the blues alive.
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Buddy was in Collongswood N. J. I regret I didn't have thee funds that day,missed him and still regret it
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First time I heard Buddy was at a concert with Santana, Al Green, was not in a hurry to get there 1st act some guy, name Buddy Guy, caught the middle of his set, OMG I WAS BLOWN AWAY, been a fan ever since
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Buddy's the best
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Bad mama jamma
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Another glass of red !!!!! Go Buddy.
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LIKE !!!!!!
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wyomoonchild 2 4
The Magic of the Blues, nothing like it on this universe, we are definitly blessed by these artists! Amen.
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Good job Buddy !!!!!! RIP SRV.
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I worked as a stage hand for about 8 yrs. After a show in oregon i found a guitar pick with Buddys name on one side and Go F... Yourself on the other side. Thats Buddy lol
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