“They played some Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton licks for me, saying, ‘Buddy, these guys got this stuff from you’”: Buddy Guy describes turning point in his career
“Having someone like me come along probably scared them.”
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Blues guitar maestro Buddy Guy has opened up about the moment he convinced his record label of the energetic playing style they’d stopped him from using on his early albums.
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In a recent interview with Guitar World, Guy explains the reason his early record companies Cobra and Chess were reluctant to record him playing in the novel style of his live shows, saying: “I wanted to turn up and add some energy. But they weren’t ready for that. And I can understand why because they made many hit records doing what they did.”
“Having someone like me come along probably scared them,” the guitarist adds. “But I’ll never forget something that happened in the ’60s when the Chess brothers sent old Willie Dixon to my house, saying, ‘Go get that boy and bring him back down here.’”
“And when I got down there, they had me come to their office, and all I could think was, ‘Oh, boy… they’re gonna get rid of me now. I’ve really done it.’ But they said, ‘Buddy, I want you to kick us in the ass.’ And I said, ‘Why? What’s wrong with you?’ And they played some Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton licks for me, saying, ‘Buddy, these guys got this stuff from you.’”
Asked what inspired him to adopt his unconventional style back in the day, Buddy says: “I had to find my own unique voice on the electric guitar. Because I had heard guys like B.B. King and T-Bone Walker, I said, ‘I’ll never be that good. I’ve got to do something different from them or I’m done for.’”
“A guy like Guitar Slim was wild, and B.B. King had a left hand that could do things that were not of this Earth. I knew I could never do any of that. So I told myself, if I can ever become any good at guitar, I’d like to act like Guitar Slim but play like B.B. King and T-Bone Walker.”
In other news, earlier this month, Buddy Guy elaborated on his decision to retire from touring. “I remember listening to some of my heroes when they got older and thinking it wasn’t the same,” he said, adding that he’d continue to play live shows, but just would no longer head out on the road.