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The Wit & Wisdom of Buddy Guy

Buddy Guy with guitar

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Most people know Buddy Guy as the Chicago blues pioneer who inspired generations of great musicians, including Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jonny Lang and John Mayer. In fact, Clapton once described as the “best guitar player alive,” and we’re not arguing with him – he’s simply unmatched. Buddy Guy is a genuine American treasure, and one of the final surviving connections to an historic era in the country’s musical evolution.

But Guy is more than a musician. To attend a Buddy Guy show is to witness a night of stellar storytelling. Between six-string showmanship and mid-solo strolls through the audience, Guy pauses to bits of wisdom from his 83 years on Earth, from humble beginnings playing a homemade two-string instrument made of wire and tin cans to playing for President Obama at the White House. As you can see from the collection of quotes below, Guy covers a lot of terrain. No two shows are the same, but one thing remains consistent – Buddy Guy will leave you entertained and inspired.

We can’t wait to see what stories he tells on our stage on March 13! Did you get your tickets yet?

The Wit & Wisdom of Blues Legend Buddy Guy

“From the time I was eight years old, my dad and mama would always tell me, ‘Son, don’t be the best in town—just be the best ’til the best come around.’”

“Nobody ever sat me down and said here’s B-flat and here’s F-sharp. I had to figure that out myself after I started playing with a band. I’m eighty-two years old. Most of the people above me—John Lee Hooker, Lightnin’ Hopkins—I faced them, I watched their hands to see where they were going. They played by ear. And that’s how I play now. I play by ear. I don’t play by the rules.”

“Funny thing about the blues—you play ’em ’cause you got ’em. But, when you play ’em, you lose ’em.”

“When I went to Chicago, I'll put it like this: I was looking for a dime and I found a quarter.”

“They say the blues is sad, but when B.B. sings 'I got a sweet little angel, I love the way she spreads her wings,' that don't sound too sad to me!”

“No music is unsatisfying to me. It’s all got something in it. It’s like that gumbo that’s in that kitchen there. You know how many tastes and meats are in there? I see my music as a gumbo. When you hear me play, there’s everything in there, everything I ever heard and stole from.”

“I'm gonna play something so funky you can smell it.”

“Listen to the lyrics - we're singing about everyday life: rich people trying to keep money, poor people tying to get it, and everyone having trouble with their husband or wife!”

“Every night I go to the stage, I stop and imagine the history of some of the guys like Lightnin’ Hopkins and T-Bone Walker. The media didn’t get us until the British started playing blues. That’s when major newspapers started interviewing Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and people like that. Before then, we were playing to a 99.9-percent black audience. When the British started playing blues, the audience completely changed. My late friend, B.B. King and I were in Memphis once, and this lady ran up to him, and said, ‘Hey man, these white people are taking the blues from us.’ B.B. said, ‘No, ma’am. They didn’t take it. You just quit listening to it.’”

“My mother told me before she died, ‘Honey, if you got flowers for me, give them to me now so that I can smell them. I'm not going to smell them when they are on top of that coffin.’”

“If you don’t think you have the blues, just keep living.”

“I worry a lot about the legacy of Muddy, Wolf, and all the guys who created this stuff,” he says. “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.

“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.’ 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 will perform LIVE at Chandler Center for the Arts on March 13, 2020.