Some American guitarist is opening shows for The Rolling Stones on their new “Zip Code” tour that coincides with the deluxe re-release of their seminal 1971 LP, “Sticky Fingers.” His name is Buddy Guy and we hear he’s pretty good. Seriously, when I was a teenager, I picked up “Stone Crazy,” Buddy’s 1979 album (incredibly, it didn’t/couldn’t get a U.S. release until two years later) on Alligator Records purely on the basis of looking at the gonzo cover and reading the liner notes. (I recall standing among the record racks gazing and reading the back cover with the scent of patchouli and myrrh wafting through the hippie-consumer enclave inside the long-gone Faces of Earth in Amherst, Massachusetts).
I was already learning about blues artists like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker, the Three Kings (B.B., Albert, Freddie), and how profoundly those artists and traditions had shaped much of what I loved about rock & roll. I had heard vaguely of guys like Buddy and his frequent partner in crime, harmonica maestro Junior Wells. And hey, he was on the same label as the Master of the Telecaster, Albert Collins! But nothing could have prepared me for what lay in the grooves of “Stone Crazy.”
From then on, I was hooked, and tracked down as much of Guy’s early work as I could find. In years to come, of course, Guy would finally win the Grammys and gain the public accolades he so richly deserved. But, as he told me below, it wasn’t always that way. To mark Buddy’s latest gig opening for the Stones, here’s a re-post of my interview with the supremely talented and humble man Eric Clapton once called “the greatest blues guitarist alive.” Oh, and as a bonus, check out this brief backstage message that Buddy and Mick taped before they dueted on the classic blues, “Champagne & Reefer.” (Sounds good to me!): https://twitter.com/MickJagger/status/613545424989855744
Buddy Guy’s blues and soul spirit reaches everywhere. Here I was today, working on assembling my Buddy Guy tribute package as a tasty tie-in and preview to his pair of local shows later this week (Aug. 2 at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton; Aug. 3 at the Lowell Summer Music Series in Lowell), and listening to some of my favorite Guy guitar workouts, including some music from his brand new “Rhythm & Blues” album, released today. And I didn’t even realize until just now that today, July 30, is Buddy’s 77th birthday.
For most of this morning, I had been smiling at the memory of happening upon his 1979 album, “Stone Crazy!” on the great Alligator Records label, at the old “Faces of Earth” music and crafts store in Amherst, Massachusetts not too long after it finally saw release in the U.S. in 1981. Hmmm, “Stone Crazy!” eh? Its title (and that exclamation point) held great…
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