When blues guitarist Buddy Guy played the Wells Fargo Center more than a decade ago, he uncoiled a 300-foot guitar cord as he walked through the crowd. He went out the door into the lobby and tried to go upstairs to the balcony before reaching the end of the line.
"Well, now we got the wireless, so I don't have to use no 300-foot cord anymore," he said.
Guy picked up the stunt decades ago from his hero Guitar Slim.
"I went to see him down at a club in Baton Rouge, and when the band kicked up, I'm looking all around the room trying to see where the guitar sound was coming from. I look back and I see this great big man come walking in the back door with Slim on his shoulders.
"He had this bright red dyed hair, flaming red suit, flaming red shoes, and he jumped off that man's shoulders, and by the time Slim got to the stage, the whole crowd was goin' wild. Ever since then, I said I want to play like B.B. King and act like Guitar Slim."
At 77, Guy is one of the last living connections to the Chess Records era in Chicago. A sharecropper's son who migrated from Baton Rouge to Chicago in the '50s, he quickly made a name for himself in Muddy Waters' band and later in his own wild live shows.
Decades later, after six Grammys and classics like "Stone Crazy" and "Damn Right, I Got the Blues," he still holds a Monday night jam session at his Chicago club, Buddy Guy's Legends.
Playing the guitar behind his head long before Jimi Hendrix tried it out, Guy is often cited as the spark between the blues and rock'n'roll, landing somewhere between blues masters like Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters and rock guitarists like Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck.
Before he takes his guitar into the crowd at the Wells Fargo Center next Friday, Guy took time to respond to email questions and chat about showmanship, President Obama and his bucket list:
<strong>Q: What's the perfect show like for you these days?</strong>
<strong> A:</strong> Everywhere I go, I'm just tryin' to make people smile. I don't play with a set list because if I come with a set list, that's what I wanna hear. I come to play what you wanna hear. Music speaks in all languages, and when I can look out at the crowd and see somebody smilin' and singin' along, that's the perfect show for me.
<strong>Q: How important is showmanship, using drum sticks on your guitar and all that stuff?</strong>
<strong> A:</strong> It it what it is, man. Everybody got their own style. I just can't help myself when I'm playin'. They could try to tell me "Buddy sit still and play this music," but I get happy with it.
<strong>Q: Describe your first guitar or first homemade instrument when you were a child.</strong>
<strong> A:</strong> I used to take rubber bands and stretch 'em close across my ear and pluck 'em like that. I guess you could say that was my first instrument. When I got older, I started stripping the wire from my Mama's window screen, and I'd tack 'em up on some wood. She'd get angry when those big Louisiana mosquitoes started comin' in. Them things could carry you clean out the bed.