Ross Purdie

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - LIVE ’N’ LOUD -

ALONG with BB King, 75-year-old mu­si­cian Buddy Guy is one of the last great blues­men still walk­ing the earth.

pioneer of the Chicago blues scene, Guy played with le­gends in­clud­ing Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Wa­ters and in­flu­enced mod­ern mu­si­cal he­roes such as Jimmy Hen­drix and Eric Clap­ton.

Named in the Top 30 all time best gui­tarists by Rolling Stone mag­a­zine, Guy has trav­elled the world sev­eral times and re­turns to Australia this month for three shows which cul­mi­nate in his head­lin­ing set at Blues­fest, in By­ron Bay, to­mor­row.

How­ever, no amount of tour­ing can over­come the singer’s acute fear of fly­ing. The only rea­son Guy boards planes is to give fans their fix of the blues.

‘‘I just never liked planes. If you could wake up the folk who died a hun­dred years ago and take them to the air­port and show them a plane they’d prob­a­bly tell ya put me back in the ground,’’ he says.

‘‘I al­ways joke that when God made man he put them on land and when God made a bird he put them in the air but that’s the re­al­ity now – fly­ing through the air in a hunk of me­tal.’’

For years, Buddy Guy was the for­got­ten man of the blues, over­looked by ev­ery­one but his peers due to a sound that proved vastly ahead of its time.

His record la­bel, Chess, con­sid­ered his mu­sic ‘‘noise’’ and limited his out­put to ses­sion work, be­fore fi­nally re­leas­ing his de­but al­bum, Left My Blues In San Fran­cisco, in 1967.

A pro­tege of Muddy Wa­ters since mov­ing to Chicago from his home in Louisiana 10 years be­fore, Guy fo­cused his frus­tra­tions on pick­ing up tips from the greats, or in his words ‘‘steal­ing their licks’’.

‘‘I never learned noth­ing from school and I taught ev­ery­thing my­self from look­ing, lis­ten­ing and try­ing to fig­ure out what other gui­tarists were do­ing,’’ he says.

‘‘I look at my life like I was look­ing for a dime and I found a dol­lar.’’

Guy has since been de­scribed as the bridge be­tween the blues and rock’n’roll, link­ing the likes of Muddy Wa­ters and Howlin’ Wolf to pop­u­lar mu­si­cians like Jimmy Hen­drix, Jimmy Page and Ste­vie Ray Vaughan.

A mu­si­cian’s mu­si­cian, Guy’s ca­reer was boosted by the ex­plo­sion of rock’n’roll in the late ’60s and his place as a chief in­flu­ence on bands such as The Rolling Stones.

‘‘When the Bri­tish came out no­body knew about me but I didn’t let that bother me, be­cause the Bri­tish guys did more for black mu­si­cians than any ra­dio sta­tion or record com­pany,’’ he says.

‘‘When they started com­ing to Amer­ica sell­ing mil­lions and mil­lions of records they (lo­cals) thought it was some­thing new. But then they said ‘hold it, hang on, this is noth­ing new, you guys have been do­ing this the whole time’.’’

Buddy Guy plays the last of his three Aus­tralian shows on the By­ron Bay Blues­fest Cross­roads Stage to­mor­row at 7.15pm. Visit www.blues­fest.com.au for the full pro­gram and tick­ets and www.gold­coast.com.au for re­ports from the fes­ti­val.

Crosby, Stills and Nash; fes­ti­val high­lights, Page 43

Chicago blues scene pioneer Buddy Guy.

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