By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Whether or not they actually know it, every guitarist who has ever used distortion and feedback, or who has augmented an extended solo with showy tricks like playing a guitar behind their head or with their teeth, or bent a note nearly to the string's breaking point, is aping the decades-old innovations of Buddy Guy.
But even though his live performances had an enormous impact on early blues-rockers such as Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and especially Jimi Hendrix, Guy was mostly relegated to the role of a session player at the beginning of his career at Chess Records. Owner Leonard Chess famously dismissed Guy's amped-up solo recordings as "motherfucking noise," and didn't realize his mistake until years later when imitators like Cream and the Experience started selling millions of records. Even as a session player, though, Guy had an undeniable impact on his recordings with greats such as Muddy Waters and Junior Wells.
Now 71 years old, Guy has long since surpassed sideman status. Many of his recent recordings, like 2005's collabo-filled Bring 'Em In, suffer from the same overproduced, note-perfect professionalism that makes most contemporary blues albums utterly boring. But in live performances, he remains a badass guitarist and showman—and he can still make some motherfucking noise.
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