Blues heroes | Buddy Guy

Buddy Guy, blues, autobiography

This time last year I was preparing to leave for a trip to New York.

While I was there, I spent a happy couple of hours browsing the Barnes and Noble bookstore on East 17th Street. I love American bookstores. I love American books. They have a different feel in my hand as soon as I pick one up. There are other small differences too, such as the type-face.

The book I bought was a biography of Buddy Guy, by David Ritz.

Life being how it is, it took me almost a year to read it. Once I started, I couldn’t put it down.

Buddy Guy is considered among the best blues guitarists alive today. He was a regular session player at Chess Records. He was a sideman in the bands of Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. He and Junior Wells formed a band of their own, and in the 1960s he became a recording star in his own right.

His life story (told in his own words) has so much to tell that I don’t feel one blog post could do it justice. Let’s start right at the beginning.

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Blues Heroes | Howlin’ Wolf

Howlin Wolf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“A lot of peoples holler about ‘I don’t like no blues,’ but when you ain’t got no money, and can’t pay your house rent and can’t buy you no food, you damn sure got the blues. If you ain’t got no money you got the blues, because you’re thinking evil. That’s right. Any time you’re thinking evil, you’re thinking about the blues.” – Howlin’ Wolf

Chester Arthur Burnett (June 10, 1910 – January 10, 1976) was named after the 21st president. His eventual size – he was purportedly 6’3” and 300 lbs (191 cm and 136 kg) – would result in nicknames like Big Foot Chester & Bull Cow but they had already started calling him “Wolf” by the age of 3.

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Ray Charles | Hard Life & Success of a Blues Genius

Written by Brooke Filsinger

Ray Charles by Greg JoensKnown as “The Genius” the world over, he was simply “Brother Ray” to friends and fellow musicians.

He was a musical pioneer in every sense.

It would be impossible to classify him in a single genre. He was on the cutting edge of the development of soul music in the 1950s and integral to the integration of country with other styles during the 1960s. In an effort to have his listener ‘feel’ his message, he filled his recordings with slurs, glides, shrieks, wails, breaks, shouts, hollers and more.

In addition to being one of the first African-American musicians to be granted artistic control which allowed him the freedom to crossover into mainstream pop, he was also offered a large annual advance, higher than usual royalties, and the almost unheard of ownership of his masters.

But despite his ingenuity, he wasn’t immune to the changing times – he experienced ebbs and flows as popular tastes changed, although he never stopped re-inventing what his music could be.

Frank Sinatra believed that he was “The only true genius in show business”.

We knew him simply as Ray Charles . . . but there was nothing simple about Ray Charles or his music.

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Listen to All songs in this article:

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