10 years ago while attending Music History class at Full Sail University, I was introduced to Buddy Guy. Not personally of course, the 4-hour lecture that day was on the Blues, a genre of music that whether aware of it or not has influenced nearly any and everything we listen to today.
Not even a month later Buddy happened to be headlining a free show downtown Orlando that I attended with some friends of mine at the suggestion of our professor. We were not disappointed.
I vividly remember during his second song, Buddy walking out into the crowd, mid guitar solo sporting charisma most could only dream of. He made his way to the back of the venue; building tension with every note he played until he was out of sight. However, the music never stopped. My friends and I were hanging out along the barricade, stage right trying to figure out where he had gone. Suddenly he appeared and it didn’t take me long to realize that he was heading right towards me. I went to the barricade hoping to catch a glimpse. What I got was so much more.
Guy walked right up to the barricade 2 feet away, looked me in the eye with the most infectious smile I’ve ever seen on a human being and proceeded to melt my face. I held my hands in the air as he released the tension of the solo he’d been building for the previous 10 minutes. Right in that moment there was an unexplainable energy in the air between one legend and a kid who was just hoping to one day be able to make a living recording music. I would never forget that.
Fast forward 10 years and I get a text from his Producer Tom Hambridge asking if I’m available to record Buddy’s vocals for 4 days at Blackbird. I’m thinking, “Let me check my calendar” (hashtag sarcasm.)
We had 4 days to record vocals on 18 songs and do 1 guitar overdub. We were done in 2 and a half. To paint the picture of how amazing this man is, at 80 years young he woke up at 3 AM to catch a flight that morning to be at the studio by 10:30 and sing 5 songs without eating a bite. Midway through that first day as we ordered in lunch and he insisted that we all go ahead and eat while he sat on the couch just relaxing and waiting for us to finish. THIS IS A MAN THAT IS AND WAS IDOLIZED BY KEITH RICHARDS, ERIC CLAPTON, JIMI HENDRIX, AND STEVIE RAY VAUGHN AND HE IS MORE THAN HAPPY TO WAIT ON US TO EAT LUNCH!!?? Name one artist in this day and age that would be that humble and relaxed.
Shortly into the session on the second day he was in the booth with Tom when John McBride the owner of Blackbird walks in to tell us that NBC is bringing the Stanley Cup by the studio and if we wanted a picture with it that it was totally cool (The Preds were in the finals and they were filming a segment for the pregame.) I’m thinking “Yeah I want a picture with the Stanley Cup!”
It was a madhouse outside the studio as people from all over town were there to catch a glimpse. Tom and Buddy’s manager Max went over to check out the festivities and snag a pic when all of the sudden I realized it was just Buddy and I. I quickly weighed my options, get a pictue with the Stanley Cup or have a one on one conversation with Buddy Guy. Um @!#$ the Stanley Cup!!!
I knew that this was going to be my only chance to tell him about the time he had played to me 10 years prior. As finished I my story, I saw that same ear to ear smile as he looked at the ground as modest as he could be and said, “You’ve got to be kidding.” I could tell that it really meant something to him. It damn sure meant something to me.
This is a man that said to me “When I was coming up you couldn’t hear the guitar over the Horns and other instruments.” To put it into perspective this is one of the 3 or 4 guys that took a new instrument that was invented early in his lifetime and turned it into something that you could not imagine any form of music without today. That will NEVER happen again. Before there was Jimi there was Buddy. Before there was SRV there was Buddy. Before there was Clapton there was Buddy. Before there were the Stones, there was Buddy. The man is my hero’s hero.
I’ve been blessed to work with hundreds of talented artists, songwriters, and musicians in my career. I don’t see how this will ever be topped, and that’s ok with me. If you get a chance to see him in concert, do yourself a favor and go. You will be seeing a living, breathing part of American History.