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Buddy Guy: 50 Years Of Cool

From his sharp-suited days in the mid-60s and badass persona in the 70s to the polka dot-sporting modern icon of blues, we celebrate Buddy Guy’s ever-changing moods in this photo gallery...

He was the Strat-toting cat who thrilled 60s audiences with an explosive lead guitar style and a voice that switched from deep croon to swooping highs. Yeah, we could be talking about Jimi Hendrix here. But while Hendrix was labouring on the chitlin’ circuit with a flipped-over Fender Jazzmaster, Buddy Guy was dressed to kill backing up Big Mama Thornton with his sunburst Strat and hanging with the Chicago blues elite.

Like many other blues stars of the 60s – Muddy, BB, Wolf, Albert King – Buddy Guy made it his business to move with the times as his audience switched to young white rock fans. He was younger than many of his peers, and easily incorporated new trends into his music. He also altered his look to reflect the times and, like his friend BB King, understood how important his image was to his disciples.

When Guy hit the stage for the Stones’ Martin Scorsese directed 2008 concert flick Shine A Light, he looked like a bantam rooster surrounded by a bunch of scarecrows. Dressed to the teeth in a suit and bowler hat, with a polkadot Strat hanging from his shoulders, he showed that he’d lost none of his sartorial elegance. As this photo gallery proves, looking cool is a big part of the man’s legacy.

**Big Mama Thornton
**Some of the best early footage of Buddy Guy finds him looking Sam Cooke cool, backing up singer Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton. A formidable talent and presence, Thornton was the first artist to cut Hound Dog. She later penned Ball N’ Chain, a big hit for doomed Texan singer Janis Joplin.

Eric Clapton
Here Guy jams with Eric Clapton on March 26, 1969 for the documentary Supershow. A meeting of such magnitude should have taken place somewhere epic like The Royal Albert Hall. As it was, the artists who appeared in it – Led Zeppelin included – assembled in a disused lino factory in Staines, Surrey.

Stevie Ray Vaughan
They had different approaches to blues but they were the hottest gunslingers in their territories. SRV paid his respects with a cover of Guy’s Mary Had A Little Lamb on his ’83 debut Texas Flood. Guy returned the compliment with his tribute Remembering Stevie in 1991, a year after his friend’s passing.

Heavy Love | Silvertone
The deeply cool killer 70s-style Shaft-era funk-soul blues album no one was actually smart enough to commission Guy to make in the 70s.

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