Buddy Guy Talks B.B., Muddy, Jimi and His New Album, 'The Blues Is Alive and Well'

(Image credit: Paul Natkin)

Buddy Guy is, In many ways, the last man standing: a link to the titanic Chicago bluesmen of the Fifties and Sixties who electrified the music and in the process birthed rock and roll. At 82, Guy is still a bundle of caged, coiled energy, emitting a feeling of tension, like a cobra ready to strike at any moment. He’s a master of dynamics who brings songs up and down, punctuating low-volume, cleanly articulated Strat runs with bursts of overdriven clusters of notes and flurries of fury. His voice is just as powerful an instrument, displaying all the same subtleties and strength. His performances have you leaning forward in your chair to catch every note before blowing you onto your heels with a burst of muscular energy.

You can hear all of it on Guy’s new album, The Blues Is Alive and Well, which features guest appearances by Jeff Beck, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger. “The love these guys have for him is readily apparent,” says Tom Hambridge, who produced, played drums and wrote or co-wrote 13 of the 15 songs on the album. “They all basically say they will drop anything they are doing to work with Buddy. It’s not fake.”

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Alan Paul

Alan Paul is the author of three books, Texas Flood: The Inside Story of Stevie Ray Vaughan, One Way Way Out: The Inside Story of the Allman Brothers Band – which were both New  York Times bestsellers – and Big in China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising a Family, Playing the Blues and Becoming a Star in Beijing, a memoir about raising a family in Beijing and forming a Chinese blues band that toured the nation. He’s been associated with Guitar World for 30 years, serving as Managing Editor from 1991-96. He plays in two bands: Big in China and Friends of the Brothers, with Guitar World’s Andy Aledort.