CHICAGO (CBS) — Blues legend Buddy Guy blows out 83 candles on his birthday cake Tuesday. The Chicago guitarist continues a nonstop tour schedule (on this day he’s in Colorado) and shows no signs of slowing down.
83 never looked so good! Please join us in wishing the man himself a very Happy Birthday. 🥃🍰🎉- Team BG pic.twitter.com/MnTw1MHt11
— Buddy Guy (@TheRealBuddyGuy) July 30, 2019
Born George Guy in Lettsworth, Louisiana in 1936, he played with bands in the early 1950’s in Baton Rouge before moving to Chicago in 1957 where he’d meet up with his musical mentor Muddy Waters. Guy would work in local clubs with Waters and as a sideman with other blues stars including Willie Dixon, Otis Rush, KoKo Taylor, Little Walter and Howlin’ Wolf.
In the 1960’s, Guy worked as a session guitarist for Chess Records. There he played on many records, including those of Junior Wells, whom he would later record and perform with extensively.
His career was revived with the growing popularity of the blues during the 1980’s and 1990’s. Guy is one of the last remaining links to a prolific period in Chicago blues history. He has influenced many blues and rock guitarists, including Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton, and continues to be one of the most important ambassadors of the Chicago blues.
Guy has won seven Grammy awards and dozens of other awards honoring his work as a blues singer and guitarist over the decades.
“One of the last things Muddy Waters told me, when I found out how ill he was, I gave him a call and said, ‘I’m on my way to your house.’ And he said, ‘Don’t come out here, I’m doing all right. Just keep the damn blues alive,'” remembered Guy. “They all told me that if they left here before I did, then everything was going to be on my shoulders. So as long as I’m here, I’m going to do whatever I can to keep it alive.”
— Buddy Guy (@TheRealBuddyGuy) April 25, 2019
Guy’s promise to keep the blues alive comes not only through his performances, but by providing a place for other blues artists to perform. In the 1970’s, Guy co-owned the famed Checkerboard Lounge on Chicago’s South Side. Later in 1989, he opened his own blues club Buddy Guy’s Legends on South Wabash, where he performs every year.
The next time he’ll be near Chicago is on September 6 in St. Charles.
“I worry a lot about the legacy of Muddy, Wolf, and all the guys who created this stuff,” Guy said. “I want people to remember them. It’s like the Ford car. Henry Ford invented the Ford car, and regardless how much technology they got on them now, you still have that little sign that says ‘Ford’ on the front.”