“I don’t want someone coming away from my show thinking, ‘He doesn’t sound any good’”: Buddy Guy opens up on his retirement from the road

Buddy Guy performs at Stern Grove in San Francisco, California on August 6, 2023
(Image credit: Steve Jennings/Getty Images)

Universally regarded as one of the best blues guitarists in the world today, Buddy Guy is a true link to the genre’s heritage – the last of the original Chicago blues titans still rocking stages around the world.

Last year, though, Guy – now 87 – announced that his next world tour would be his last.

In a newly published interview in the latest issue of Guitar World, Guy revealed that, though he'll play guitar “until [he] can’t,” he decided to retire from touring before he became unable to perform onstage to the best of his ability.

“I don’t want someone coming away from my show thinking, ‘He doesn’t sound any good,’” the blues guitar legend explained to GW, also mentioning the toll age took on the live performances of some of his own heroes.

“I watched all the old guys like B.B. King, Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters go until they got old,” Guy explains. “Often, when you watch older people playing shows, you think, ‘Man… they just don’t sound the way they did when they were younger.’ I remember listening to some of my heroes when they got older and thinking it wasn’t the same.”

That said, the electric guitar hero certainly isn't going out with a whimper. Back in June, he was joined onstage by Rage Against the Machine/Audioslave guitar A-lister Tom Morello for some bluesy six-string dueling. 

Next month, meanwhile, Guy will take part in Eric Clapton’s 2023 Crossroads Guitar Festival, which is set to feature a truly dizzying lineup including (but not limited to) John Mayer, Joe Bonamassa, Santana, ZZ Top, H.E.R., John McLaughlin, Marcus King, Stephen Stills, and Gary Clark Jr.

To read Guitar World's full interview with Guy – in which the bluesman reflects on his nearly 70-year-long career, and a particularly unforgettable Fender Bassman guitar amp – pick up a copy of the newest issue of the mag at Magazines Direct.

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Jackson Maxwell

Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.