George “Buddy” Guy, a blues guitarist, was born on July 30, 1936, on a farm without modern conveniences near Lettsworth, Louisiana, to sharecroppers Sam Guy and Isabel Williams Guy. Phil Guy, a fellow bluesman, was one of the five children. Buddy Guy began playing by making a two-string bow. Later, an acoustic guitar was given to him by a friend of his father. Guy graduated from the Rosenwald School in New Roads, Louisiana, in 1950 and spent the next year studying in Baton Rouge.
Guy worked as a housekeeper in Louisiana State University’s Facility Services Department from 1955 to 1958 before moving to Chicago, Illinois to pursue a music career. Muddy Waters mentored him there. Buddy married Joan Guy the following year, 1959, and they had six children.
Guy was performing in the United Kingdom by 1965. He was a regular performer at London’s Marque Club. The following year, he recorded for Delmark Records with bluesman Junior Wells and participated in American Folk Blues’ European tour. Guy signed with the Chess label two years later, in 1967, and released his debut album, I Left My Blues, in San Francisco. He returned to the United Kingdom in 1969 and performed at the Supershow in Staines, England.
Guy co-founded The Checkboard Lounge in Chicago with L.C. Thurman in 1972, and three years later married Jennifer Guy for the second time. The couple had two children, one of whom was Female Rapper Shawnna.
Guy signed with Silverstone Records in England in 1990 and released the album Damn Right, I’ve Got the Blues the following year. The album peaked at number 136 on the Billboard 200 and remained on the charts for six weeks. It sold over 500,000 copies and earned Guy his only gold record. In 1993, Feels Like Rain debuted at No. 145 and remained there for seven weeks.
Heavy Love was released in 1998, two years after Live: The Real Deal. Buddy’s Baddest: The Best of Buddy Guy was released in 1999, and the same year he was inducted into the Guitar Center’s Hollywood Rockwalkon. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005, and the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame three years later. Guy’s album, Living Proof, debuted at number 46 on the Billboard Blues chart in 2010 and remained there for three weeks.
Guy received an Honorary Doctorate from Louisiana State University in 2014, as well as a tiger-striped guitar from LSU President King Alexander, in recognition of his distinguished musical career. He received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences in 2015.