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First Time I Met the Blues

Buddy Guy

On his 1960 debut single for Chess Records, blues master Buddy Guy begs for his life: “Blues, don’t murder me,” he pleads. “You know you’ll be with me every mornin’, every night and every noon.” He wails like a man who grudgingly accepts his fate, which is quite the cross to bear as he drags the blues from the Delta to Chicago and on to the rest of the world. It’s not hyperbole when people call Guy the bridge between blues and rock ’n’ roll — he is the person who gave Stevie his swagger and Hendrix his flair (where do you think Jimi got the idea to play behind his head and pick with his teeth?). Put it this way: The Rolling Stones show up at Guy’s Legends club for late-night blues jams whenever they play in Chicago. If Clapton is God, Guy is his older brother. If the blues were Greek philosophy, Guy is Aristotle (with his mentor Muddy Waters as Plato and Robert Johnson as Socrates). If Muddy gave the blues teeth, Guy gave it claws. His shadow weighs a ton.

The term “living legend” is one that’s often carelessly bandied about, but for Guy the shoe fits, and it’s the size of the Sears Tower. You can learn more about his life by reading his recently released autobiography When I Left Home, or you can just sit down with a stack of LPs from the last 50 years — the music tells the same story. 

Buddy Guy plays with Jonny Lang 7 pm Tuesday, Aug. 14, at Cuthbert Amphitheater, 2300 Leo Harris Drive; $35-$55.