“I remember listening to some of my heroes when they got older and thinking it wasn’t the same”: Buddy Guy on his decision to retire from touring

The blues guitarist will continue to play “until [he] can’t”, but won’t be heading out on the road in the future.

Buddy Guy wearing a black and white polka dot shirt, playing a blonde Stratocaster

Image: Steve Jennings / Getty

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Blues legend Buddy Guy watched icons such as B.B. King and Howlin’ Wolf play on tours right until the end. Now at 87 years old, the guitarist has decided to retire from the road himself.

Guy has spoken of how watching his own heroes struggle with the challenges of being on the road has led to him deciding to retire from touring, though he’ll continue to play guitar until he physically can’t.

Guy has released over 30 studio albums, with his most recent record, The Blues Don’t Lie, landing back in September 2022. He then headed out on his Damn Right Farewell Tour the following February, which is continuing into late 2023.

In an interview in the print edition of Guitar World, Guy reveals the reasoning behind his decision to retire from the road: “I don’t want someone coming away from my show thinking, ‘He doesn’t sound any good,’” he says.

“I watched all the old guys like B.B. King, Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters go until they got old,” Guy explains. “Often, when you watch older people playing shows, you think, ‘Man… they just don’t sound the way they did when they were younger.’ I remember listening to some of my heroes when they got older and thinking it wasn’t the same.”

Back in February, Guy shared his love of the humble Fender Stratocaster, where he said in a video with Reverb: “But man that guitar, you could hit a note on that guitar and hold it ‘til next week. You could hold it and do it like BB King, vibrate his hand [sic] and people would look at you and say ‘Is that you playin’ that? Because it still looks like it’s holding the sound too long.”

After realising how robust the Strat model was back in his early career, and how it could be thrown around and still play intact, Guy declared, “‘I’m gonna be a Strat man for the rest of my life’”.

Buddy Guy will be touring into late November, to see the full list of live dates go to his official website.

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