Blues master spreads the word

ONE dance, an open mic and a Ray Charles song playing on a jukebox may have given birth to modern music.

Buddy Guy knows.

The father of rock'n'roll blues, a legend among legends, was there.

He laughs and flashes one of his big, warm smiles.

"We had been playing in a little club one night, and I forgot to turn the guitar off when I was tying it up -I was young, what can I say," he said.

"They were still dancin' an' all and this guy spun his girl and her dress hit my guitar strings…

"The sound was just right, perfect… in tune with the jukebox -it was Ray Charles' Tell Me What I Say, I think.

"They kept hummin'.

"I was like, 'Oh my God, I should be able to play that …'"

And so he did.

The sounds he found, though at first shunned in his homeland, gave birth to what became known as "the 60s British Blues explosion".

Buddy's acolytes include Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page, as well as Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

And even extend to Barack Obama.

"Oh, that's something else altogether," he said, chuckling.

Last year, Buddy, BB King and Mick Jagger were playing at the White House.

"They told me if I insisted, he would sing," he said. "Weeelll(sic), I was careful - you have to be careful when you're talking to the Commander-in-Chief, ya know …"

Another laugh ripples through the story.

"I heard you sang with that Al Green," he reportedly told Mr Obama.

"So you done started something.

"You've gotta keep it up now …"

Jagger handed the president the mic, and he sang a few lines of Sweet Home Chicago, an ode to the city in which he was born, and the one that Buddy has taken as his own.

The king of Chicago blues is sitting in his bedroom, in the metropolis' burbs.

"I love touring," the father of 10 said.

"I feel close to the people who come to see me play - they're like family."

He sees spreading the blues word as his duty.

That goes back to 1983, when he visited his friend Muddy Waters in his Chicago home.

"I didn't know how sick he was … he died within weeks of me visitin' him, and the last thing he said to me was, 'keep the blues alive'."

 

BUDDY GUY will perform today and tomorrow at Crossroads stage.


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