By Stephen K. Peeples
Grammy-winning Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame icons and Fender Stratocaster-playing “Strat Cats” Jeff Beck and Buddy Guy hit the road this week on a co-headlining tour of the United States, kicking off Tuesday, July 19, at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York.
An August 10 performance with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl is a highlight of the tour by the innovative British rock-blues-rockabilly-jazz fusion player nicknamed “Flash,” and the Louisiana-born Chicago electric blues legend universally acknowledged as “The Real Deal.”
Beck and Guy have been friends and jamming pals for 50-plus years, since Beck was lead guitarist in pioneering British blues rock ravers The Yardbirds and met Guy, who was touring the United Kingdom in 1965 as part of the historic American Folk Blues Festival roadshow.
At the Hollywood Bowl August 10, about 18,000 Southern California fans will help Beck mark his 50th anniversary as a solo artist, and join Guy in celebrating his 80th birthday on July 29.
Beck ‘Loud Hailer’ Album Out July 15
A mere whippersnapper at 71, Beck is touring this summer to back “Loud Hailer,” his first studio album since 2010’s Grammy-winning “Emotion & Commotion.”
For his “50 Years of Jeff Beck” show at the Bowl, he’ll be backed by singer Jimmy Hall, bass player Rhonda Smith, drummer Jonathon Joseph and guitar partner Nicholas Meier, with blues-rock belter Beth Hart as special guest vocalist. The L.A. Phil will accompany Beck and the band on select songs.
He collaborated on the edgy, topical “Loud Hailer” – billed on his website as “a powerful statement about everything from the love of power to the power of love” – with guitarist Carmen Vandenberg and singer-lyricist Rosie Bones. Beck released the album Friday, July 15, with videos for “Live in the Dark,” “Pull it” and “Edna” posted in advance.
Three days earlier, Genesis Publishing Group in Britain unveiled “BECK01,” Beck’s colorful mostly pictorial homage to classic cars and vintage guitars, to hot rods and rock ‘n’ roll.
The limited-edition book, hand-bound in leather and aluminum, numbered and signed by the artist, is pricey at £345, or about $455USD at the current rate of exchange. Beck is still working on an autobiography for Genesis, announced in February 2015.
As is well-documented elsewhere, Beck first earned fame as lead guitarist with pioneering British blues-rock band The Yardbirds, famously replacing a disgruntled co-founder Eric Clapton in March 1965.
Beck was just as famously sacked in mid-October 1966, a few gigs into a Dick Clark package tour of the States (Beck said he had a bad case of tonsillitis and hated the crowded tour bus), and just five months after Page had joined the Yardbirds lineup.
After Beck smashed up his guitar and split back to England, Page essentially took over The Yardbirds, eventually morphing the band into The New Yardbirds and finally, in August 1968, relaunching the power-blues-rock concept with new lineup and name – Led Zeppelin.
Beck, regrouping with a new guitar and something to prove, officially launched his solo career in February 1967 fronting The Jeff Beck Group (with former gravedigger and soccer (football) nut Rod Stewart on lead vocals).
In his five-decade solo career, Beck has proven the most inventive and enduring player of the three Yardbirds guitar gods. Due respect to Clapton, who’s talking retirement, and Page, who’s long been done with writing, recording and touring, Beck isn’t out of gas yet, and remains the most respected of the three among most musicians, if not the most popular among rock fans.
‘Strat Cats’ Beck and Guy
Beck and Guy also have a mutual admiration stretching all the way back to the heady nights when they would jam at Yardbirds gigs The Yardbirds at funky clubs like The Marquee on visits to England.
“They got it in Rolling Stone magazine, me and him, they call us ‘The Strat Cats,'” Guy said in an interview backstage at the Hollywood Bowl, after a headlining set at the 2011 Playboy Jazz Festival.
“When I first went to England [in 1965], Eric [Clapton] wasn’t famous, Jeff Beck wasn’t famous…and they told me they had never seen a Strat play blues till he saw me,” Guy said.
“They thought the Strat was just for country and western. And they threw all those [other] guitars away and they’ve been playing Strat ever since,” he said.
Damn Right, Buddy’s Back at the Bowl
The August 10, 2016 show with Jeff Beck marks Buddy Guy’s return to the Hollywood Bowl for the first time in five years, since the aforementioned Playboy Jazz appearance.
That’s when Guy introduced the 18,000 fans in the house to Quinn Sullivan, his then-12-year-old Strat-slinging whiz kid protege from New Bedford, Massachusetts.
When Guy talked with reporters after his set, he recalled he had first heard and learned blues and spirituals as a dirt-poor child in rural Louisiana, where he was born in 1936.
“Back then it was more spiritual than it was blues, but the first electric guitar I saw was Lightnin’ Slim,” he said.
“And then I finally saw, I think, it was Guitar Slim, and B.B. King started coming into town, and I watched them, and I saw [Guitar] Slim,” Guy said. “He was wild and crazy, and I said, ‘I want to act like that, but I want to play like B.B. King.'”
Guy worked hard learning to play like his early influences, gigged locally and then in larger Louisiana locales such as Baton Rouge before heading to Chicago in 1957, looking to play the clubs and studios where his blues idols like Muddy Waters held forth.
He soon landed work at Chess, playing sessions for artists recording for the famed Chicago-based blues label. At the same time, Guy was developing his incendiary live act at joints like the 708 Club on the South Side.
But Chess owner Leonard Chess wouldn’t let him make records like that, Guy said.
The impasse began to break after Guy’s breakout performances in the U.K. in fall 1965 on the American Folk Blues Festival tour, also featuring Junior Wells, Big Mama Thornton, Big Walter Horton, John Lee Hooker, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Son House, Bukka White, J.B. Lenoir, Doctor Ross and more.
Buddy Guy, Oct. 7, 1965, live in a Hamburg studio:
“First Time I Met the Blues”
Jimi Hendrix & The Buddy Guy Experience
Finally, after the release of Buddy Guy superfan Jimi Hendrix’s over-the-top debut album “Are You Experienced” in 1967, Guy’s pioneering solo style gained traction, and Chess relented.
Chess had heard how Hendrix was blowing everyone away in the U.K. with a live act that copped many moves from Guy (and T-Bone Walker from Texas, to be sure).
“They’ve got a tape out on that, with [Hendrix] recording me [on] a reel-to-reel tape,” Guy said.
“The first time I ever went to New York was in 1967, because they told me, before I left Louisiana, to never play New York. You will never make it,” he said. “And I proudly played Newport in 1967, and I got invited to New York and I saw this kid, on his knees with a reel-to-reel, and he was listening, and I was, like, wild and crazy and drinking my wine. Sixty cents a bottle, then.
“And I heard voices saying, ‘This is Jimi Hendrix,'” Guy said. “I said, ‘Who in the hell is that? I don’t know.’ I had the guitar behind my head, and he came up and told me who he was, and we became good friends about two or three years before he passed away.”
Blues Ambassador to the World
Chess released Guy’s “I Left My Blues in San Francisco” album later in 1967, but that was it for his work for the label.
His next album,”A Man and the Blues,” out the following year on Vanguard, was his first album of mostly original material.
Guy worked the U.S. chit’lin circuit as a solo act for years after that. His career roller-coastered until the blues revival of the mid-1980s sparked by players like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Robert Cray, and work with booster Eric Clapton in the early ’90s.
Since then, Guy has enjoyed international superstardom and respect as an ambassador of American blues.
As Guitar Slim’s wild style had inspired Guy as a young guitarist in the late ’40s and early ’50s, Guy’s early, aggressive guitar-playing style and full-tilt showmanship were direct influences on upstart British rockers of the middle and late 1960s, particularly Beck, Clapton and Page, as well as Keith Richards and Seattle-born Hendrix.
Guy’s influence extended to the next generation of blues players in the ’70s and ’80s including Stevie Ray Vaughan and his brother Jimmie Vaughan, and to players such as Vernon Reid of Living Colour and Prince in the ’80s-’90s to the present.
The music made by all those guitarists, in turn, influenced countless more blues and rock players around the world, and still does today.
Guy’s extensive post-Chess solo discography includes half a dozen Grammy-winning albums, 1991’s “Damn Right, I’ve Got the Blues” (on Silvertone) being the best-known; the title track burns with hot licks and attitude and has become his signature anthem.
His Chicago club, Buddy Guy’s Legends, has become Mecca to generations of electric blues fans. He’s a national treasure who’s been honored by the Kennedy Center and played for presidents.
Guy even got Chicagoan Barak Obama to sing a few lines of “Sweet Home Chicago” with B.B. King, Mick Jagger, Jeff Beck, Trombone Shorty, Keb Mo, Gary Clark Jr., Susan Tedeschi, Warren Haynes and the rest of the White House Allstars directed by Paul Shaffer during a February 2012 event dubbed “In Performance at the White House: Red, White and Blues.”
Now that B.B. King is gone, Guy is the last electric bluesman standing from his generation. The man Clapton calls the planet’s “greatest living blues guitarist” is still shredding on the road headlining halls and festivals around the world, and in the studio, as exemplified by his most recent solo album, “Born to Play Guitar,” out in summer 2015.
Like Jeff Beck, Buddy Guy shows no sign of slowing down just yet. Just this year, Guy toured as part of the Experience Hendrix roadshow in the spring, then headlined an extensive trek through Europe with now 17-year-old protege Quinn Sullivan opening for him in the first half of July, including performances at the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland.
Jeff Beck & Buddy Guy Summer 2016 Tour Dates
(* = Buddy Guy and Quinn Sullivan only)
July 19 – Port Chester, NY @ Capitol Theatre
July 20 – New York, NY @ Theater at Madison Square Garden
July 22 – Mashantucket, CT @ Grand Theater at Foxwoods
July 23 – Atlantic City, NY @ Borgata Event Center
July 24 – Bethlehem, PA @ Sands Bethlehem Event Center
*July 25 – Dewey Beach, DE @ Bottle & Cork
July 26 – Holmdel, NJ @ PNC Bank Arts Center
July 27 – Vienna, VA @ The Feline Center at Wolf Trap
July 29 – Canandaigua, NY @ Mavin Sands PAC
July 30 – Rochester Hills, MI @ Meadow Brook Amphitheatre
July 31 – Highland Park, IL @ Ravinia Pavillion
August 2 – Atlanta, GA @ Chastain Park Amphitheatre
August 3 – Nashville, TN @ Ascend Amphitheatre
August 5 – Kansas City, MO @ Starlight Theatre
August 7 – Englewood, CO @ Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre
August 10 – Los Angeles, CA @ Hollywood Bowl
August 11 – Santa Ynez, CA @ Starlight Theatre
August 12 – Pala, CA @ Starlight Theatre
*August 13 – New Bedford, MA @ Whaling Blues Festival
August 14 – Saratoga, CA @ Mountain Winery
August 16 – Masonic Auditorium San Francisco, CA
August 17 – Santa Rosa, CA @ Wells Fargo Center for the Arts
August 18 – Jackson, CA @ Jackson Rancheria Casino Hotel
*August 20 – Goldendale, WA @ Maryhill Winery
August 21 – Seattle, WA @ Woodland Park Zoo Amphitheater
Buddy Guy with Jonny Lang
August 25 – Northfield, OH @ HR Rocksino Northfield Park
August 26 – Sylvania, OH @ Centennial Terrace
August 27 – Kettering, OH @ Fraze Pavilion
August 28 – Interlochen, MI @ Interlochen Ctr. for the Arts
August 30 – Columbus, OH @ Express Live
Buddy Guy with Mavis Staples
September 2-3 – Peoria, IL @ Peoria Blues & Heritage Music Festival
Get Buddy Guy tour updates here, Jeff Beck tour updates here and Quinn Sullivan tour updates here.
Special thanks: Nina Gordon, Paige Hagen, Peter B. Sherman
Santa Clarita journalist and Grammy-nominee Stephen K. Peeples is an entertainment reporter for Santa Clarita television station SCVTV’s website at SCVNews.com, and for Santa Clarita radio station KHTS AM 1220’s website at HometownStation.com. He hosted and co-produced SCVTV’s WAVE-nominated “House Blend” music and interview program from 2010-2015. Peeples has also been a record company media relations executive, and an award-winning international radio producer and newspaper online editor. He is now Senior VP/New Media for Rare Cool Stuff Unltd., and an in-demand website project manager and content editor. In addition to writing for SCVTV and KHTS, he blogs about music at his personal site, https://stephenkpeeples.com, and posts exclusive interviews on his YouTube channel.
Article: ‘Strat Cats’ Jeff Beck & Buddy Guy Tour U.S., Rock Hollywood Bowl Aug. 10
Category: News & Reviews
Author: Stephen K. Peeples
Article Source: StephenKPeeples.com