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1. Buddy Guy

| March 31, 2008


1. Buddy Guy

Naysayers will think Buddy Guy tops our list in some glad-handing tribute to Chicago’s most prominent living bluesman. Sheeeeit. Early in his prime he was muzzled by Leonard Chess and the Muddy Waters/Willie Dixon machine. But once loose, Guy not only co-sparked a revolution within West Side blues but owned his instrument and the eyes of anyone who saw him play it. “All-time” scrolls like this are notoriously subjective, but few could match Guy’s combination of stylistic fusion, wrenching soul, technical brilliance, staggering influence (Hendrix, Clapton, Beck), and dazzling showmanship. Subtlety’s not his strong suit, but if you wanna play bridge, get out your ballgown — this is a guitar list.

As little as 20 years ago his inclusion on (much less towering over) such a list was cast in murk. From the late ’60s to late ’80s he was in the wilderness, neglected by rock fans and still polarizing to trad blues snobs. But Guy’s resurgence — begun with 1991’s blistering Damn Right, I’ve Got The Blues and emboldened by 2001’s brave, dynamic Sweet Tea — resuscitated him from artifact to restless ambassador. His place in history assured, Guy has turned his eye to making sure the city doesn’t bury its crucial past the way it almost forgot him.

Steve Forstneger

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Category: Features, Monthly

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  1. Larry Launstein Jr says:

    Okay, I can live with Buddy Guy in the top 5. But Terry Kath should have been his number one rival. Kath may have been part of a huge mainstream act, but without him, the others may not have gotten the recognition they deserve. Before Chicago, rock in that area, from everything I have been told, was very obscure compared to those from both coasts, especially the west coast. Chicago made it possible for all that followed to have a chance they may otherwise not have gotten.

    And, I take exception to Chicago being called a bunch of “jazzbos”.