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Buddy Guy
Nervously, we enter the suite at Mumbai’s ITC Grand Maratha Sheraton And Towers to meet Buddy Guy. The very thought of interacting with one of the world’s greatest blues musicians gives us the jitters. After all, here is a man who even Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton considered as among their biggest influences. And as we’re eagerly waiting for his concert at the Jamshed Bhabha Hall on December 17, 2005, we ask ourselves: How do we break the ice?

Suddenly, we spot the man sitting calmly on a huge sofa. He’s wearing blue jeans and a light brown full-sleeved T-shirt, and is chatting with one of his tour managers. Unlike the old photographs we’ve seen in magazines or on album covers, his head is clean-shaven now. “Hello, I’m Buddy, it’s a pleasure to meet you,” he begins, in that famous voice which has attracted fans for nearly five decades. We respond: “It’s absolutely marvelous to meet you too.” The ice was easily broken.

Buddy Guy is so down-to-earth that, for a few moments, you put aside thoughts of his being one of the most influential guitarists in the world or the fact that he’s won five Grammy awards. For almost 25 minutes, he answers questions patiently, and often talks about how thrilled he is to be in India.

“When I landed here early this morning, they told me that I was the first big blues musician to come here,” says Guy. “I don’t have any hair on my head now, but if I had some, they’d stand in excitement. I mean, I’m surprised BB King hasn’t come here too, and I am definitely going to try and ensure he does. And since I am the first, I better live up to expectations.”

Born in Lettsworth, Louisiana, in 1936, Guy began playing in the early 1950s, and moved to Chicago in 1957. There, he hung around with well-known bluesmen like Muddy Waters, Freddie King and Otis Rush. “Those days, I just watched every musician and heard how they played guitar,” says Guy. “A lot of the great blues players of those days are no longer with us. But there was so much to learn from them. Besides Muddy, Freddie and Otis, I’d follow the work of Magic Sam, Luther Tucker and Matt ‘Guitar’ Murphy. I even loved stealing licks, and then trying to do my own thing around that. So when you hear me play, you also hear a lot of these legendary musicians.”

The two musicians who played a major role in Guy’s life were Muddy Waters and BB King. “Muddy Waters introduced me to a lot of things,” says Guy. “Besides explaining aspects of the guitar, he’d tell me what to drink. It was always like he’d speak, and I’d listen. I respected him so much I had no option. As for BB King, he’s probably influenced more blues musicians and guitar players than anyone else. Even today, young players look up to him as an idol.”

In the first half of the 1960s, Guy did some amazing work with the Chess label, with the songs Ten Years Ago, Stone Crazy, Leave My Girl Alone and No Lie expanding his popularity. He even played as sessions guitarist with Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson and Koko Taylor on her hit Wang Dang Doodle.

After leaving Chess, he recorded the album A Man And The Blues, after which he regularly collaborated with harpist Junior Wells ~ the duo produced the classic album Hoodoo Man Blues. “Junior and I made a wonderful team, as our chemistry was wonderful and approach to the blues was common,” says Guy. “Those recordings are among my most memorable.”

You can read the rest of our exclusive with Buddy Guy in the December 2005 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.


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