The great blues guitarist Buddy Guy celebrates his 79th birthday today, and he is still going strong. Since B. B. King joined the big blues band in the sky this year, Buddy Guy is likely the greatest blues guitarist on the planet. And, he has the best smile ever.
Buddy learned to play the guitar by listening to records by John Lee Hooker and other blues artists on a guitar he made when he was 13. He was discovered by Muddy Waters who took him under his wing at age 21 after he moved to Chicago.
Many great rock guitarists like Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Jeff Beck say they owe their inspiration to Buddy Guy and other blues musicians. Vaughn said, “Without Buddy Guy, there would be no Stevie Ray Vaughan,” and Clapton said, “Buddy Guy was to me what Elvis was for others.”
A few years ago I visited Buddy’s club Legends in Chicago. It’s kind of remarkable that this humble downtown corner bar with a brick facade has hosted not only blues icons like B.B. King, Muddy Waters, and Bo Diddley, but also rock legends like Eric Clapton, Greg Allman and the Rolling Stones, as well. There is no shortage of stories about some of the world’s most renowned musicians strolling in off the street for a show and winding up on stage jamming, like the time the Stones were in the house and Keith Richards called up Pete Tonsound who was in the crowd.
So Happy 79th Birthday, Buddy. Keep us smiling and keep on playing.