“I’ve dedicated my life to the music,” he said. “The late Muddy Waters, Little Walter, the late Junior Wells, I could go on. And on, and we used to sit down and talk and be having a shot of wine or a shot of whiskey, and we would be joking and laughing about it. ‘If I leave here before you do, you had better not let that goddam blues die.’
“Muddy Waters, he didn’t let me or a lot of us know that he had cancer,” Guy said. “I kind of got it from the grapevine. And Junior Wells and I were in a little club, the Checkerboard Lounge (in Chicago), and I said, ‘Man, we’ve got to go out there and see him. Let’s call him and see.’ We rang him up and he cursed us out and said, ‘I ain’t sick, just don’t let the blues die.’ I remember that precisely.”
A week later, Waters died; Guy continues to do his part to keep the blues alive.
Guy may be 77 years old now, but he seems much younger. He’s energetic and passionate about the blues and is doing more shows this year than many musicians half his age. Guy and long-time friend B.B. King, though, are the last of the major blues stars still living, recording and touring from the post-World War II wave of blues artists .
A native of Louisiana, Guy began his career in earnest when he moved to Chicago in September 1957. He was signed by that city’s legendary blues label, Chess Records in 1960, which also had deals with Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Little Walter.
Already an accomplished guitarist, Guy was recruited to play on numerous albums by the label’s leading artists, but struggled to get label co-owner Leonard Chess to embrace the high-charged, hard-edged type of blues he wanted to record.