Buddy Guy

Louisiana born, 61 year old Buddy Guy picked cotton as a youth and spent his earnings buying blues 78ís. His first makeshift guitar was made of brittle wires yanked from his front door screen and stretched across the tops of paint cans. From there he moved on to an old acoustic guitar with only 2 strings. In 1957, with little cash, a few personal belongings and a Gibson Les Paul guitar, Buddy Guy purchased a one way ticket to Chicago on the train called the City of New Orleans.

Months later, broke, hungry and down to his last dime he found himself at the famed 708 club. Otis Rush was on stage and called the young player up when he saw the Gibson in his hands. Buddy plugged in and erupted with the "Guitar Slim" classic "The Things That I Used To Do." Later that night a fortuitous meeting with Muddy Waters proved to be the turning point in the young guitaristís life. Muddy took Buddy under his wing and steered him into the talent pool of young players who regularly competed in the weekly guitar contests. After stumbling upon the use of feedback and distortion, and with the help of a 150 foot guitar chord (a trick he picked up from one of his early guitar heroes, the flamboyant "Guitar Slim"), Buddy felt he was ready to compete against the stiff competition at the weekly guitar battles. At the club where Magic Sam and Otis Rush were holding court, Buddy had a friend plug his chord in when his name was called. Buddy then began playing from the back of the room as he made his way to the stage. A stunned Rush and Sam watched as Buddy turned up the volume, feedback and distortion and blew everyone away -- winning the prized bottle of whiskey and more importantly a lasting reputation.

Guy was a prolific session guitarist for Chess Records during the 1960ís and helped define what today has been called the west side sound popularized by the likes Jimmy Dawkins, Otis Rush and Magic Sam. Touring with long time friend Junior Wells for over two decades Buddy Guy finally began to receive world-wide acclaim and praise with his first Grammy Award in 1991 for his album "Damn Right Iíve Got The Blues." This was followed by two more Grammyís for "Feels Like Rain" (1993) and "Slippiní In" (1994). Buddy Guy has been called the best blues guitarists alive by Eric Clapton and when you see him perform you will know why.

Mailbox E-mail Ray Stiles at: mnblues@aol.com

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