(In addition to the GRAMMY Awards, The Recording Academy presents Special Merit Awards recognizing contributions of significance to the recording field, including the Lifetime Achievement Award, Trustees Award and Technical GRAMMY Award.)
Buddy Guy, actually born George Guy on July 30, 1936, is a true product of the Bayou. Music is in his blood. Now, at the age of 78, his playing still blows me away as much as it did the first time I heard him. He transcended blues and started becoming theater. It was high art, kind of like drama-theater, when he played. He was playing his guitar behind his head long before Hendrix. I once saw him throw the guitar up in the air and catch it, didn't miss a beat.
Buddy's impact on the blues and rock and roll cannot be denied. As a musician, his influence has been evident in the careers of not only myself, but Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan, among many, many others.
I remember seeing him play in the early '60s and saying to myself, "I didn't know a Strat could sound like that," until I heard Buddy's tracks on the Blues From Big Bill's Copacabana album — it was the total manic abandon in Buddy's solos. They broke all boundaries. I just thought, "This is more like it!" His solos weren't restricted to a three-minute pop format; they were long and really developed.
I truly cannot think of another instrumental artist who has done so much after coming from such humble beginnings. Buddy's early experiences in the Chicago blues circles to his time at Chess Records sitting in with Muddy Waters all led him to the pinnacle of the blues 'n' rock genre.
For over a half century now, Buddy has blended the genres of blues and rock and roll like no other performer, before or since. His live concerts are legendary and the music world would be a very boring place without his influence. I know that my guitar wouldn't sound half as good if I hadn't heard his first.
An eight-time GRAMMY winner, Jeff Beck's most recent release is Live In Tokyo, a DVD of new and legacy material filmed during his 2014 Japanese tour. In 2012 Beck performed in tribute to Buddy Guy at the 35th Annual Kennedy Center Honors.