Gotham City had Batman and Robin. Chicago had Buddy Guy and Junior Wells. While Buddy Guy remains on the scene, his sidekick of many years passed in 1998. From 1958 until Wells’ untimely death, the two Chicago blues greats collaborated on a slew of records and tours.
In the mid-80s, for the princely sum of one dollar, I had the opportunity to see these truly legendary bluesmen perform at my university. Guy and Wells put on a clinic in the art of the blues for me and my fellow Illinois State Redbirds. By then, the pair had already toured the world and put out a number of acclaimed albums, including “Play the Blues” and “Drinkin’ TNT and Smokin’ Dynamite”. Most notably, Guy (under the pseudonym “Friendly Chap”) played a major role in making Junior’s 1966 debut album, “Hoodoo Man Blues,” one of the finest LPs in the history of the idiom.
Records made by Wells and Guy had a major impact on the members of the Rolling Stones, which culminated in the two Chicagoans touring Europe with the famous rock group in 1970. Beyond working with the Stones, the pair were in high demand at blues festivals at home and abroad. No matter where they roamed, the two kindred souls always returned home safe in the knowledge that the funky, soulful vibe they laid down on record would thrill blues fans well into the future. Remembering his friend, Buddy Guy once observed that “Junior and me [sic] are both from the old school. We were students of Muddy Waters and them. They handed the blues to us. And we did our thing and have been trying to carry it on to the young people.”
Marty Weil is the editor of @ChiBluesHistory on Twitter. Marty is a blues researcher, educator, and social media influencer.
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