Buddy Guy Q&A: Starving in Chicago, Meeting Muddy Waters and the Night Stevie Ray Vaughan Died
Mention Sept. 25, 1957 to blues guitar legend Buddy Guy and he could immediately tell you of its significance: On that date, the-then 21-year-old left his home state of Louisiana for Chicago. As he writes in his memoir, When I Left Home, "I think of this date as my birthday. Fact of the matter is, it's my second birthday. It's when I was born again. My life before Sept. 25, 1957 was one thing, and my life after was something else."
When I Left Home, co-written with David Ritz, begins with Guy in Louisiana where his earliest experience with guitar playing was through tin cans and screen wire as a youngster. After moving to the Windy City, Guy met Muddy Waters and became a session player at the legendary Chess Studios. He also describes in the book about meeting and working with other greats such as B.B. King, Howlin' Wolf, and the Rolling Stones, as well as his partnership with harmonica player Junior Wells.
A Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Guy, 75, spoke to Spinner to talk about aspects of his extraordinary life that includes overcoming his initial shyness at performing, living without food, meeting Muddy Waters and performing with Stevie Ray Vaughan on the night he died.
In the book, you wrote that your first encounter with music was hearing the birds sing.
I was born on a farm. My mother was singing in church. There were no instruments -- they would sing that old spiritual stuff in the church on Sunday. The birds have a lot to do with it and then the church, the spiritual singing that they would moan and groan. My grandmother used to say, "I'm moaning this song. When I moan, the devil don't know what I'm