Two Legends, One Starry-Eyed Kid – Buddy Guy & Junior Wells Play The Blues

Going to Northwestern afforded me the great opportunity of going into Chicago and hitting clubs like Biddy Mulligan’s, Blues, etc., Kingston Mine’s, Mama Rosa’s and the Checkerboard Lounge to name a few…

For a few bucks  and a few drinks you could see the biggest names in the Blues… What an education.

At the same time I got hooked on the harmonica, and while I was doing an improv/sketch show called The Mee-Ow Show, Todd Weeks, the amazing harp and horn player in our band (Dr. Bob And the Fakaktah Blues Band), actually taught me how to play and bend…

That was it… and whenever I could see a harp master, I ran into town… Sugar Blue, James Cotton… and one of today’s amazing maestros…

Buddy Guy & Junior Wells – Buddy Guy & Junior Wells Play The Blues

Ahhh, this gives me the ability to discuss two greats at once.

The first time I saw Junior Wells playing at Biddy Mulligan’s I was overly excited… I had just mastered some blues licks and wanted to tell him how much he influenced my playing.  He must have been around 52 at the time… and was wasted out of his mind.  Apparently he was still doing smack even then.

He spoke to me in a rapid fire and incoherent manner and sadly I could not understand a single word he said… However, whenever he wanted to come on and off the stage he would look for me and used me as a kind of crutch.  It was thrilling and wild… and sad at the same time.  But it is memory I will never forget… and his playing… wow.

I never saw them play together live… but Buddy had his own demons… There was more than one occasion when he was almost too drunk to play and spent the night leading the audience in choruses of “Shiiiiiit” instead of guitar riffs… But man, when he focused and played he was riveting… a true guitar genius.

Buddy was playing in Chicago one April when Eric Clapton, Phil Collins and Robert Cray were on tour together and making a stop in the Windy City.  The rumors were that Eric would ALWAYS show up and jam when he and Buddy were in the same town…

The options were Biddy Mulligan’s, a legit Blues bar on Saturday night… or the Limelight on Easter Sunday.  We could only go to one show and chose the Blues bar.  Doh!  That Easter Sunday, I missed Eric Clapton, Phil Collins and Robert Cray showing up and jamming with Buddy Guy for hours and hours…

In LA, Buddy was playing two shows at The Roxy.  Clapton was in town and knowing I had been burned once, I vowed to choose right this time around.  Buddy was doing an early show and a late show… My NU pal Russ and I chose the late show… Come on, Rockers do everything late.  DOH AGAIN!  As we were standing on line waiting to get in, Eric Clapton walked past us… having jammed at the EARLY SHOW!!!

I have many more stories like this, which still set my soul into deep regret and sadness… But what can you do!

In the meantime, I have this stellar album to get me through…

These two played together quite often…  and whenever they did, the Blues came alive…

Yes, I first heard Belushi sing it… But “Messin’ With The Kid” is my favorite song on this record and one of my most favorite blues songs ever.  This came to define Junior Wells and was his signature song, though it was written by Mel London, and ironically on this one there is no harp…

This album has some amazing players on it… Clapton, AC Reed, Mike Utley and Dr. John!

AllMusic says:  “Considering the troubled background of this album (Eric Clapton, Ahmet Ertegun, and Tom Dowd only ended up with eight tracks at a series of 1970 sessions in Miami; two years later, the J. Geils Band was brought in to cut two additional songs to round out the long-delayed LP for 1972 release), the results were pretty impressive. Buddy Guy contributes dazzling lead axe to their revival of “T-Bone Shuffle”; Junior Wells provides a sparkling remake of Sonny Boy’s “My Baby She Left Me,” and Guy is entirely credible in a grinding Otis Redding mode on the Southern soul stomper “A Man of Many Words.”

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Filed under Marc's Mixed Bag - A Little Of Everything, Marc's Playlist - Music That Moves Me

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