How blues legend Buddy Guy was shaped by the Chicago music scene

ByHosea Sanders and Marsha Jordan WLS logo
Saturday, February 24, 2024
How blues legend Buddy Guy was shaped by Chicago
Buddy Guy is a Chicago blues legend, and the city has shaped the guitar licks that influenced rock stars from Eric Clapton to Jimmy Page and beyond.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Buddy Guy may be a son of the south, but he's a man of Chicago blues. He makes that music his own at his South Loop Legends Club, and it echoes around the world.

Guy is hard to miss; as a bluesman you can hear his Fender fury coming with growling grace. This week he held court at an event at his grandson's school, imparting wisdom gleaned from decades in the industry.

He started as a man of humble means.

"I come to Chicago 66 years ago this year, and I was driving a tow truck in the snow," he recalled.

But every night, Buddy was at the clubs with his guitar.

"If it was snowing the owner would look at me and say, 'Are you crazy? Nobody's coming to listen to you play,'" he said. "I'd say, 'Open the front door and someone might drive by and hear me.'"

Years later, rock idols would marvel at his ruthless reverb.

"For some reason, those British guys listening to those licks I was playing - Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page - they look at me and said, I didn't know a Stratocaster could play blues until I saw you," Guy said.

Buddy Guy lives in the south suburbs, and he claims to be on his "farewell" tour this spring, but he's always being pulled back on stage.

And what he wants to be remembered for may surprise you.

"That I wasn't the best in town. I tried to best, until the best come around," he said.