Be specific: Buddy Guy talks about the future of the blues
By Allison Stewart
"My parents told me before they passed away, 'Buddy don't try to be the best in town, just try to be the best until the best comes around,'" says legendary blues guitarist Buddy Guy. A Louisiana-born sharecropper's son, Guy, 74, is a blues virtuoso of the highest order, with too many albums, awards and commendations to count, and a 57-year career stretching from the vaunted Chess Records to Jive Records, which will release his latest disc, "Living Proof," on the 26th.
Guy, who plays the Birchmere Tuesday and Wednesday, worries about the future of the blues, which suffers from a lack of radio airplay as well as from the lack of cool sherpa-types to make it palatable to young white audiences, like Clapton or Stevie Ray Vaughan once did. That Jive will pay for a video for his new single astounds Guy. "I was amazed when they said there was going to be a video," he tells Click Track.. "You gotta be young and good looking to do one of those."
You recorded your new single, "Stay Around a Little Longer," with B.B. King. It's being billed as your first collaboration, but it's impossible that you two have never worked together before.
Actually, we did work together on this album called "Blues Summit" about 15 or 20 years ago. We did a Bobby Bland song together. But I'd never had him do one with me. My producer [said], "Man, you can sing spirituals better than you can blues. Why don't you do a spiritual?"….We got B.B. to come in and he did it so well. He looked at me and said, "Have you picked out your Grammy suit yet?"And I said, "What are you talking about, my Grammy suit?" And he said, "We're going to the Grammys with this one." I don't know, though. I'm not that good.
This song would seem to be an answer to anyone who's asked you if you're going to retire.
Do you ever listen to satellite radio? [B.B. was on once] and a fan called from California and asked if he ever thought about retiring. And he said, "I do, but I'm not going to even think about it, because I still think there's somebody out there who don't know who I am." And if there's people out there who don't know who B.B. King is, there's quite a few who don't know who Buddy Guy is.
(Guy on the future of the blues and the best guitarist in the world, after the jump.)
You did a recent Q&A session where you said the blues was an endangered species. Is it really that bad?
It's that bad. Every once and a while somebody like the late Stevie Ray Vaughan or even before him some British guys will start playing it, and [bring it more attention]. They came to America -- Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones came to America -- and they'd say, "Wait a minute, what do you mean? You don't know who Muddy Waters is?" The Stones said, "We named ourselves after a Muddy Waters song ["Rolling Stone"]!" That's how white America found out who Muddy Waters was, B.B. King, Ike and Tina Turner was, all of them. So what I'm doing is hopefully I'll hit the right note and be played [on the radio], so some other white or black boy or girl will say, "Maybe I want to play the blues."
You've been called the best guitar player alive. Who's the second?
You know, I don't accept that. I think B.B. King [is]. You know before him, you could go into a music store and say, "How much is that guitar? And they'd say, "I don't know, just give me anything to get it out of the way." Eric Clapton [once said], "Before you guys started playing the guitar, I could have afforded to buy one or two guitars. Now I need to get two jobs to get a guitar."
| October 19, 2010; 12:00 PM ET
Categories: Be specific | Tags: Buddy Guy
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