|●Text & Photo/ Shoko Nagano
＜Vol.7＞ Buddy Guy ~ @Buddy Guy’s Legends (January 2015) ~
“Buddy Guy’s Month”
Buddy Guy has reached the pinnacle of the blues world. One of the most
successful blues musicians of all time, he won Grammy Awards six times,
and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005.The 78-year-old
blues giant still performs every weekend of every January at his own club, “Buddy Guy’s Legends." (16 days in 2015)
On January 17th, Mike Wheeler (12pm, Acoustic live,) Joanna Corner (6pm),
and John Primer (9:30pm) opened the show. All tickets sold out immediately.
Paul Natkin, Buddy’s old friends and official photographer for more
than three decades took me to Buddy’s office. “He might be relaxing with
a drink before going on stage,” he said. “As a matter of fact, he still
has stage fright.” I couldn’t believe my ears. Buddy Guy has stage fright...??
Hearing this loosened my tension at meeting this blues great.
Buddy’s office looked like a cozy private lounge. He was sitting relaxed
on the couch and smiled warmly at me. “Wanna drink?” I hesitated for
a second, then decided to take this rare opportunity to taste “Buddy’s
favorite” Remy Martin XO. (This is the famous drink he usually takes on
stage...) “I want to go back to Japan soon again,” he said. His last
visit to Japan was in the summer of 2012 at “Fuji Rock Festival.” 20
years ago I saw him play in Japan at the small live house in Shibuya, Tokyo.
Now, after all these years, I’m having a drink with him in his office.
What a lucky and unreal moment.
Buddy walking through the crowd.
| Winter temperatures dipped into the single digits, but the bitterly cold weather didn’t keep his fans from standing in line in front of the club to hear the great Buddy Guy. Once he appeared on the stage, nothing could stop his entertainment explosion. He opened the set with his smash hits, “Damn Right, I’ve Got the Blues,” and “Someone Else Is Steppin' In.” Sticking out his pelvis and twisting his lips, he immediately got everyone
in the audience moving. Buddy responded to their enthusiasm with his growling
guitar and powerful voice. Unlike “formal” performance at big festivals,
he looks very much at home in his club.
He cooled down with the slow blues, “Five Long Years.” In the middle of the next song, “74 Years Young,” he stopped singing and said to the audience, “Wait a moment. This is
four years ago. Now I’m 78.” This joke got a big laugh from the crowd.
Buddy changed to his acoustic guitar for the second half of the show,
and howled some old time Chicago blues of Howling Wolf. He also sang a
medley of Motown hits from Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder. The audience
got to see Buddy playing acoustic guitar up close in this special show.
Buddy’s showmanship kept them enthralled from beginning to end. (I personally
was excited to hear his simple “Blues in the Night.”)
16 different color suits for 16 days are ready in his closet.
“Can a white person play blues?”
On 30th, I visited the club again to see Guy’s “favorite disciple,”
Quinn Sullivan, a 16-year old guitarist from Boston. Buddy recognized his
talent when he was just seven years old, and has been supporting and producing
him since then. Now grown up, Quinn showed his incredible talent to the
audience. It is often said that “blues musicians should be fully matured,”
but Quinn’s youthful energy resonated with the audience. What I appreciate
about American culture is the way audiences here enjoy the music regardless
of a players' age.
Quinn Sullivan told me he wanted to go Japan someday soon. He is an ordinary
high-schooler and skinny “guitar nerd” off stage. I’m looking forward
to seeing him grow up...
Buddy took the stage after Quinn warmed up the crowds. He spoke to the
audience, “As I’m supporting Quinn, I have a stupid question asked to
me a lot, that is “Can a white person play blues?” I say, “I don't have
the advantages of white people. I only have five fingers. If I had six,
then I would answer you differently. This young man can play. You can't
Achievers like Buddy often share something in common, that is cherishing the moment to meet people regardless of race, age, and gender. Buddy’s career has been created by meeting people especially connected by music.
| Buddy’ has influenced many white musicians, such as Keith Richards,
Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, and he has played with
all of them. The other night, Earl Slick, a guitarist best known for his
collaborations with David Bowie, shared the stage with Buddy. “I love
to play with other musicians. The door is always open here,” Buddy said.
Guitarist in David Bowie’s band, Earl Slick, joined the stage(1/17.) He’s
62 years old and looks like a little boy when playing with Buddy.
Father and son moment
Buddy is backing behind his son, Greg.
Buddy’s health secret is “cooking”
I’m fascinated by Guy’s physical strength, which allows him to play 90-minute
performances every weekend. I also like his sexy looks. I wondered what
his secret was. According to Paul, Buddy likes cooking healthy meals for
himself and sometimes for the guests, and he has strict self-control. Getting
so much enjoyment from meeting new people also energizes him.“Buddy loves
to meet people. When he is not on the tour, he always comes here and enjoys
talking with the guests,” said Paul.
Buddy will be honored with The Recording Academy's Lifetime Achievement
Award at The GRAMMYs in February 2015 together with the Bee Gees, George
Harrison and other recipients. In 2012, he received “Kennedy Center Honors,”
the nation's highest honor bestowed on those who have influenced American
culture through the arts. Recently, he was honored with an award for his
lifetime contribution to the arts. No matter how much recognition he receives,
Buddy’s enthusiasm for performing on stage never diminishes. He is still
the same “George Guy” who came to Chicago 60 years ago with a one-way
ticket from Louisiana.
| (c)Paul Natkin
Buddy and harmonica legend, the later Junior Wells (1992)
They played together in their old good days in the 60’s~70’s.
■ Buddy Guy's Legends
700 S. WABASH, CHICAGO, IL, 60605
Tel： 312 427-1190