Buddy Guy celebrates his 85th birthday today. The acclaimed guitarist was born on July 30, 1936 in Lettsworth, Louisiana. Some of the greatest guitarists in the world have cited Guy as an influence including Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Stevie Ray Vaughan and more. Clapton called Guy “the best guitar player alive.”
Buddy began playing early in his career with another towering figure in blues and rock ‘n’ roll, Muddy Waters. After cutting his teeth in Baton Rouge, Guy headed north in 1957, trading the blues mecca of the Mississippi Delta for that of Chicago. As a musician for the famed Chicago label Chess Records, Guy backed a staggeringly impressive array of blues legends including the aforementioned Muddy Waters along with Howlin’ Wolf and Sonny Boy Williamson among others. Guy also collaborated with Junior Wells for Delmark Records, performing under the pseudonym Friendly Chap as he was still with Chess.
Guy, however, had difficulty excelling as a Chess artist although he would go on to become a blues and rock legend himself. The label’s founder Leonard Chess said that Buddy’s style was “just making noise.” But as an innovator, Buddy was ahead of his time. The “noise” he made would soon be adopted by Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and more.
Guy is not only a gifted guitarist but also an electrifying showman, skilled singer and composer. Buddy rounds out his catalog with songs by some of his fellow blues legends as well as those by artists he’s influenced over the years. Buddy’s impressive repertoire is a kind of musical resume and is on full display during his appearance at Estival Jazz Lugano in 2008 alongside his backing band consisting of bassist Orlando Wright, drummer Tim Austin, guitarist Ric Hall and keyboardist Marty Sammon.
The set contains songs from his early collaborators including Junior Wells’ “Little By Little” and “Hoodoo Man Blues” as well as Willie Dixon’s “Hoochie Kootchie Man” and “I Just Want To Make Love To You,” a version of the latter was also recorded by Muddy Waters. Songs among the artists Guy has influenced include Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child” and Cream’s “Sunshine Of Your Love.” Buddy also includes his own “Skin Deep” and more.
To celebrate Buddy Guy’s birthday, watch the legendary guitarist perform at Estival Jazz Lugano In 2008 below via the Jambase Live Video Archive:
Set: Little By Little, Hoochie Coochie Man, Dreams, I Just Want To Make Love To You, Fever / Boom Boom, Skin Deep, Drowning On Dry Land, Hoodoo Man Blues, Stormy Monday, Voodoo Child / Sunshine Of Your Love / Keep on Truckin Medley, On A Saturday Night