Ask every blues enthusiast what inspired them to pick up an electric guitar, and the answer is almost always Buddy Guy. Guitarist Buddy Guy has immortalized blues music with his varied mixes and onstage antics. He gave the genre a new meaning and definition without changing its essence. To him, the blues is an odd but idealistic blend of classic and contemporary forms. He was inspired by legends like Lightnin’ Slim and Guitar Slim. A desire to succeed musically led him to Chicago. While he had enormous success from 1960 to 1970, the 1970s were a dreary decade for him. With the 1980s blues renaissance, his career took off, and he became known as the blues master who introduced the genre to the rock audience. Continue reading to learn more about him.
Early Childhood of Buddy Guy
Sam and Isabel Guy raised Buddy Guy in Lettsworth, Louisiana. He was one of the couple’s five kids.
Musically inclined since childhood, he developed a keen interest in melody and harmony, as evidenced by his creation of a two-string guitar from wood and hairpins.
At 19, he began working as a custodian at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Soon after, he bought his first acoustic guitar. He began playing in Baton Rouge clubs.
A Career of Buddy Guy
The summer of 1957 changed the path of this blossoming enthusiastic musician’s life. While honing his craft, he was inspired by musicians like John Lee Hooker, Lightnin’ Slim, and Guitar Slim.
In 1958, he moved to Chicago on the advice of friends and a desire to better himself. Upon arrival in Chicago, he signed with Cobra Records with magic Sam’s help. From then on, he recorded singles for the corporation.
Then he met Otis Rush, who introduced him to the 708 Club, which changed his life. While performing at the club, he met his idol, Muddy Waters, who was blown away by Guy’s raw talent. His music was warmly received by the club crowd, and he became a regular performer.
Composer Willie Dixon saw him perform at the 708 Club. With Dixon’s help and contacts, he finally got a deal with Chess Records.
The Chess Record label made cautious and economic decisions in his early music career. He couldn’t play in his own unique way and had to follow the lead of Chess Records founder Leonard Chess, who labeled his sound as “noise”.
During his tenure at Chess Records, he backed Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson, Koko Taylor, and others. And he did ‘Wang Dang Doodle’ and ‘Killing Floor’ for Koko Taylor.
Seen on MTV’s “Saturday Night Live” and “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” The label never released any of his recorded singles. In 1967, he released ‘I Left My Blues in San Francisco’. The record was designed for the soul era.
The following year, he left Chess Records and signed with Vanguard Records, seeking more creative freedom. In the same year he released ‘A Man and The Blues’ and ‘Hold That Plane’.
In 1969, he performed in England’s Supershow at Staines. The Misunderstood and Eric Clapton were among the artists he shared the stage with.
In 1970, he recorded ‘Buddy and the Juniors’ on Blue Thumb, featuring Junior Wells on harmonica and Junior Mance on piano. He formed a friendship with Junior Wells and together they recorded ‘Buddy Guy and Junior Wells Play The Blues’.
‘South Side Blues Jam’, ‘In The Beginning’, ‘Play The Blues’, ‘I Was Walking Through the Woods’, and ‘Got To Use Your Head’ are among his other 1970s releases. His popularity waned by the 1980s.
The declining popularity graph began to rise again in the late 1980s and early 1990s. His 1989 blues club, Buddy Guy’s Legend, became a hotspot for blues musicians. Later, he accepted Eric Clapton’s invitation to perform in the Royal Albert Hall in London during the guitarist’s multi-night engagement in 1990-91.
His new contract with Silvertone led to the release of ‘Damn Right I’ve Got The Blues’. The CD rapidly increased his notoriety, making him one of the most notable blue guitarists of the Nineties.
‘Damn Right I’ve Got The Blues’ sold over 500,000 copies and was certified gold. Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Mark Knopfler all contributed.
After the success of Damn Right, he released ‘Feels Like Rain’ with Silverstone two years later. ‘Slippin’ In’ was his first label release in 2012.
He released ‘Live: The Real Deal’ in 1996 and ‘Heavy Love’ two years later. 1990 saw the release of ‘Buddy’s Baddest: The Best of Buddy Guy’.
His albums have introduced a new dimension to blues music. He also continually tours the world, performing at clubs and festivals, including his own.
Honors & Awards
He has six Grammy Awards for his work on acoustic and electric guitars, as well as modern and traditional music.
He was honored into the Hollywood Rockwalk in 1996.
In 2003, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts for his remarkable contributions to the arts.
He has garnered more W.C. Handy Awards than any other artist. He also got Billboard’s Century Award for artistic accomplishment. The Greatest Living Electric Blues Guitarist accolade went to him.
Sein 2005 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction. He was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2003.
He received 2012 Kennedy Center Honors.
Estimated Net Worth
Buddy Guy net worth: Buddy Guy is a $2 million blues musician. Born in Lettsworth Buddy Guy, born on July 30, 1936, entered the music profession in 1953 as a guitarist and singer.
His albums include ‘Damn Right I’ve Got The Blues’ and ‘Feels Like Rain’. It was also named one of the 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time by Rolling Stone.