When Buddy Guy appears on stage no one can see remnants of his past bouts with intense stage fright. After decades of polishing his act, Buddy Guy has honed his skills as a guitarist and performer. Audiences applaud him around the world and probably clap the loudest in his favorite blues hot spots in Chicago. He battled severe stage fright from his beginnings in the 1950s playing the Baton Rouge blues scene. His very first gigs were with bandleader 'Big Poppa' John Tilley. Guy had to chug a mixture of Dr. Tichenor's antiseptic and wine to battle the butterflies in his stomach. After fighting off the nervous habits on stage he joined up with harpist Raful Neal's band.
After learning with some of the best blues bands down south he made his way to Chicago in 1957 to make a name for himself. It didn't take long for Guy to become known around the Chicago jazz clubs. He started hanging out with the big boys of Chicago blues. Among his newfound friends were Freddy King, Muddy Waters, Otis Rush, and Magic Sam. Magic Sam eventually introduced Guy to Eli Toscano of Cobra Records. Guy soon released two hit singles on the Cobra label. 'This Is the End' and 'Try to Quit You Baby' made big splashes with their use of old fashioned influences combined with Guy's contemporary flare. B.B. King and Guitar Slim were obvious influences on the songs.
The Cobra label folded around 1960, so Guy moved his career into the hands of the Chess record company. The first two singles released on the new label were more original than his music had ever been. Though what he learned from the older blues greats was still a part of his music, Guy broke out with new techniques and a flare uniquely his own. 'First Time I Met the Blues' and 'Broken Hearted Blues' gained Guy the respect of the blues community in Chicago. Many more singles, like 'Ten Years Ago', 'Stone Crazy', and 'Leave My Girl Alone', on the Chess label helped establish Guy's name and reputation as a great blues artist.
By 1967 Guy was ready to move on. He left Chess and moved on to Vanguard. His first record for the company was A Man and the Blues, which contained a rocking blues version of 'Mary Had a Little Lamb'. Guy began recording with harpist Junior Wells for Blue Thumb in 1969 and Atlantic in 1970. They were also joined by pianist Junior Mance. They played together throughout the 70s, drawing crowds all over. They cut a live record in 1974 of their performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival. Guy continued to tour into the 80s, his reputation still well known to guitarists like Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Buddy Guy's talents carried him into the 90s. He won a Grammy in 1991 for Damn Right, I've Got the Blues, which was released on the Silvertone label. It was in this new decade that Buddy Guy became an even bigger star. Tickets to his shows were selling faster than ever before. He appeared on the David Letterman and Jay Leno late night shows. After a slight step backward with his 1993 release Feels Like Rain, Guy got back on track in '94 when he released Slippin' In. Buddy Guy's club has become the most successful blues joint in Chicago. Guy himself is a regular fixture at the bar when he's not touring to large crowds around the US.
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