From his pioneering 1950s work to his late-blooming mainstream stardom, Buddy Guy has built a track record as one of Blues’ most inventive and influential guitarists. His raw, forceful playing on numerous Chess Records sessions, as well as his flamboyant onstage showmanship, served as a crucial inspiration to such Rock players as Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
The Louisiana native got his start playing with bands in Baton Rouge, before moving to Chicago in 1957. There, he joined Muddy Waters' band and began working for Chess as a session guitarist, playing on sessions by the likes of Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Little Walter, Koko Taylor and Sonny Boy Williamson. Guy also cut several Chess sessions of his own, although most went unreleased at the time.
Guy's aggressive approach and innovative techniques —including his unprecedented use of distortion, feedback and abrupt volume shifts — were eagerly absorbed by a generation of '60s Rock players, particularly in England, where his style became a cornerstone in the birth of Blues Rock.
Guy's career experienced a minor resurgence in the late '60s as more rock fans embraced the blues, and he continued to record and tour — both on his own and with Chicago singer-harmonica player Junior Wells — through the '70s and '80s. But he scored a major comeback in the late 1980s and early 1990s, following his appearance at Eric Clapton's 24 Nights all-star Blues guitar extravaganza at London's Royal Albert Hall. Signing with Silvertone Records, Guy released a series of well-received albums beginning with 1991's Damn Right I've Got the Blues, and became a major draw as a live act.
Now well into his 70s and one of the last living links to the Blues' golden era, Guy maintains an active recording and touring schedule. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005, and was one of the honorees in the Kennedy Center Honors in 2012. His autobiography When I Left Home was published the same year.