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September 09, 1988 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily, 1988-09-09

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The Michigan Daily - Friday, September 9, 1988 -- Page 13

Guy's guitar:. Blues come true

BY BRIAN BONET
PROPHETS do exist.
About 35 years ago, Buddy Guy
was a teenager sitting on his Lou-
isiana front porch playing a beat up,
two-string guitar.
Then a stranger approached.
"(He) said, 'Son, if you had a
guitar, I bet you would learn how to
play,"' Guy recalled to the Daily last
March. "And I said, 'If I wouldn't,
something would be wrong. And he
said, 'Well, you be sittin' right here
tomorrow."
The next day Guy waited for the
stranger. Sure enough, he returned
and took Guy to a neighborhood mu-
sic shop and bought him a Harmony
guitar for 52 dollars. Was the
stranger just a generous passerby?
Maybe. But even Guy seems a bit
mystified by the encounter.
. "Strangely enough, since that
night I haven't seen that guy. I still
owe him the money."
And the blues world owes him a
fortune. Four short years later, the
young guitarist was no longer on his
porch in Baton Rouge - he had
moved on to clubs in Chicago and,
interestingly, his initial success
wasn't because there was anything
particularly new about his music.
Instead, it had something to do with
his refreshing attitude.
"The stuff I was playing was just
Jimmy Reed and 'The Things You
Used To Do' by Memphis Slim,"
said Guy. "When I got to Chicago,
most of the guys were playing sit-
ting down in the old acoustic style
and I saw that and said, 'Shit, if they
can make a living sitting down I
know I can make a living."'
By the age of 23, Guy was
turning heads at Chicago's Regal
Theatre, his unpredictable, wild style
stealing some of the limelight from
older bluesmasters such as B.B.
King. Among his young admirers
was Eric Clapton who explained in a
1985 Rolling Stone interview why
the impact of Guy and his Chicago
peers was so vital. "They sounded
like they were really on the edge,
like they were barely in control and
at any time they could hit a really
bad note and the whole thing would
fall apart - but of course, they
didn't. I liked that a lot more than
B.B."
It was the same sentiment Jeff
Beck expressed in a Musician mag-
azine interview the same year.
"Buddy Guy epitomized for me the
artistry of electric blues guitar, esp-
ecially Chicago style. It was the

simplicity, the stabbing manic
phrases that he came out with. It
was me, that sound."
Another admirer was Stevie Ray
Vaughn, who used to play along
with the records of Guy. And there
was Keith Richards who was a fan of
Guy's as a young art student. Even
Hendrix was inspired by Guy's
guitar riffs, and tape recorded Guy in
the late '60s at a New York club so
he could study the artist's playing at
home.
Indeed, Buddy Guy's fan club,
reads like a "Who's Who" of today's
rock 'n' roll guitar world. But while

Clapton and friends have found wide
acceptance and commercial success
(as well as commercial appearances
- i.e., Clapton's bluesy "After
Midnight" stint for Michelob),
Buddy Guy, at age 52, is a hallmark
musician without a record contract.
"I've been shortchanged all my
life in record studios. Everybody
wants a piece of the cake, which I
don't mind giving up, but let me be
free, man," said Guy about his
refusal to give in to the whims of
mainstream record executives.
"I'm Buddy Guy and I don't want
nobody to make me nobody else.

When I first came to Chicago, fine. I
was a little young and I hadn't heard
that much and I was willing to take
ideas. I still am but I am not willing
to take ideas while I'm recording."
Again, it has something do with
his refreshing attitude.
BUDDY GUY and JUNIOR.
WELLs, another pioneer of the
Chicago Blues Scene, will be
performing two sets at the Blind Pig
tonight. Showtimes are 10 p.m. and
midnight. Tickets are $15 at the
door, $13 in advance, and can be
purchased at the Michigan Union
TicketMaster outlet.

1'
Ewa

At Least It's Not Bob
Pete Seeger, legendary folk singer, plays in 'Songs for
Peace, Jobs, and Justice,'a benefit for the Worker's Culture
Program tonight at 8 p.m. at the Power Center. Tickets are
$15.50.

Buddy Guy's blues have influenced such famous guitarists as Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, and
Stevie Ray Vaughan.

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