Our top 10 Buddy Guy songs list presents ten of the best songs released by one of the Chicago blues sound pioneers. Born in 1936, Buddy Guy established himself as a reputable blues singer and guitarist in 1953. However, his professional career started in 1957 after he moved to Chicago. After moving to Chicago, Buddy Guy was discovered by legendary blues singer Muddy Waters.
Buddy Guy played guitar as a session player for Muddy Waters. In the early ‘60s, Buddy Guy played with other artists, including Ike Turner, Phil Guy, Little Walter, Memphis Slim, Howlin’ Wolf, and Junior Wells. Throughout his career, Buddy Guy’s guitar skills stood out as the primary influence towards amassing fame and fortune in the blues music scene.
Buddy Guy’s Career Beginnings and Breakthrough
After moving to Chicago, Buddy Guy managed to sign a recording contract with Cobra Records. At Cobra Records, the bluesman hit a few sessions which gave birth to his initial releases “Sit and Cry (the Blues)”/“Try to Quit You Baby.” Rock and roll legend Ike Turner would later play guitars on Buddy Guy’s “You Sure Can’t Do”/“This is The End.”
Eventually, Buddy Guy moved on to Chess Records, where he recorded his first LP, Left My Blues in San Francisco, in 1967. Left My Blues in San Francisco featured a blend of pop, rhythm, and blues sonic vibes. “Leave My Girl Alone” and “When My Left Eye Jumps” are some of the best Buddy Guy songs from the album. Left My Blues in San Francisco was Buddy Guy’s only album released under Chess Records.
Buddy Guy’s tenure at Chess Records allowed him to build his reputation as a reliable session guitarist. The label had Buddy Guy play guitars for Sonny Boy Williamson, Muddy Water, Koko Taylor, and Howlin’ Wolf, among other artists. Buddy Guy’s rise to stardom came after younger musicians, including Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, cited him as their influence.
Buddy Guy’s Album Releases over the Years
After quitting Chess Records, Buddy Guy joined Vanguard Records, home to Barenaked Ladies, Chris Isaak, Indigo Girls, O.A.R., and Collective Soul. Buddy Guy started working on his sophomore album, A Man and the Blues, issued in 1968. The LP featured four original songs by Buddy Guy and five cover tracks.
Buddy Guy recorded his third LP Hold That Plane! in 1969. However, the LP wasn’t issued by his record label until 1972. The album was a success having it feature some of the best Buddy Guy songs, including “Hello San Francisco” and its album title track “Hold That Plane.” Songs on this LP featured Phil Guy (Buddy Guy’s brother) on the guitars.
With the flourishing rock and roll music scene and highly competitive R&B scene in the ‘70s, traditional blues artists had quite a rough time marketing the genre. The result was several years of recording an album for his solo ventures. However, Buddy Guy would try to rekindle his way back to fame with the 1979 LP, The Blues Giant. The Blues Giant was later re-issued by Alligator Records in 1981, entitled Stone Crazy!
French producer Didier Tricard founded a new record label after Buddy Guy’s mother’s name for the release of The Blues Giant. The ‘80s were almost as calm as the ‘70s for Buddy Guy, having him only release two LPs under JSP Records. These two LPs included Breaking Out in 1980 and DJ Play My Blues in 1982.
Buddy Guy reached new feats in the ‘90s after signing to Silverstone Records. The bluesman won the Grammy Award for the Best Contemporary Blues Album accolade with his next three LPs under Silverstone Records. The albums included the 1991 LP Damn Right, I’ve Got the Blues, the 1993 LP Feels Like Rain and the 1994 LP Slippin’ In. Damn Right, I’ve Got the Blues marked Buddy Guy’s first LP on the Billboard 200, peaking at number one hundred and thirty-six. Feels Like Rain managed to rise to number one hundred and forty-five on the Billboard 200.
The blues man’s next two LPs, Heavy Love and Sweet Tea, issued in 1998 and 2001, respectively, were nominated for a Grammy Award for the Best Contemporary Blues Album accolade. Heavy Love managed to rise to number one hundred and sixty-three on the Billboard 200, while Sweet Tea topped the Billboard Blues Albums chart.
Buddy Guy was back to his winning ways with his twelfth LP, Blues Singer, issued in 2003. Blues Singer was issued as a dedication to the late blues singer John Lee Hooker. In 2004, Blues Singer saw Buddy Guy win a Grammy Award in the Best Traditional Blues Albums category. Buddy Guy would later issue a thirteenth LP, Bring ‘Em In, in 2005.
Despite the LP consisting of cover songs predominantly, it featured several artists such as Keb’ Mo’, Tracy Chapman, John Mayer, Carlos Santana, Keith Richards, and Anthony Hamilton. Bring ‘Em In managed to rise to position one hundred and fifty-two, peaking at the second spot on the Billboard Top Blues Albums chart.
In 2008, Buddy Guy released a chart-topping LP, Skin Deep. Skin Deep saw the bluesman feature reputable artists such as Eric Clapton, Robert Randolph, Derek Trucks, and Susan Tedeschi. The LP was also nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Traditional Blues Album category. Skin Deep reached number sixty-eight on the Billboard 200, a feat not achieved by any of Buddy Guy’s previous albums. The LP also topped the Billboard Top Blues Albums chart, featuring reputable hits such as “Skin Deep.”
In 2010, Buddy Guy released his last LP under Silverstone, Living Proof. Living Proof marked the end of a successful long-term collaboration between Buddy Guy and Silverstone Records. The album charted even higher than Skin Deep, peaking at number forty-six on the Billboard 200. Living Proof also topped the Billboard Top Blues Albums chart, winning Buddy Guy a Grammy Award for the Best Contemporary Blues Album. Some of the best Buddy Guy songs from the LP include “Stay Around a Little Longer” and “Where the Blues Begins.”
After signing with RCA Records, Buddy Guy continued amazing in the blues music scene. His first release through RCA Records was his fifteenth LP, Rhythm & Blues, in 2013. Rhythm & Blues marked Buddy Guy’s fourth LP to top the Billboard Top Blues Albums chart. The album also managed position twenty-seven on the Billboard 200, the highest ever by any Buddy Guy album. Rhythm & Blues featured several reputable artists, including Keith Urban, Beth Hart, Kid Rock, Steven Tyler, and Gary Clark Jr.
In 2015, Buddy Guy released yet another Grammy Award-winning LP, Born to Play Guitar. The album peaked at number sixty on the Billboard 200, topping the Billboard Top Blues Albums chart. Born to Play Guitar featured several reputable musicians, including Van Morrison, Billy Gibbons, Kim Wilson, and Joss Stone. The album took home the 2016 Grammy Award in the Best Blues Album category.
Buddy Guy’s most recent album release is his eighteenth LP, The Blues Is Alive and Well, issued in 2018. The Blues Is Alive and Well peaked at number sixty-nine on the Billboard 200, leading Buddy Guy to yet another Grammy Award for the Best Traditional Blues Album. Some of the featured artists on the LP include Jeff Beck, Keith Richards, and Mick Jagger.
Buddy Guy’s Other Musical Pursuits
Throughout his career, Buddy Guy has been making collaborations and featured as a guest artist in songs by other artists such as Lacy Gibson, Howlin’ Wolf, John Mayall, and Junior Wells. Buddy Guy has been featured in albums by Muddy Waters, Eddie Boyd, Shakey Horton, Sonny Boy Williamson, Big Mama Thorton, Clarence Wheeler, Paul Shaffer, Santana, and B. B. King, among others.
Buddy Guy’s long-time collaborators have been Junior Wells and Phil Guy. The bluesman has been featured on the guitars in albums released by the two artists.
Buddy Guy’s Accolades and Legacy
The list of blues legends would never be complete without Buddy Guy. Buddy Guy is a proud holder of eight Grammy Awards, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for his exemplary work on the guitars and blues scene in general. In 2005, the blues legend was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by B. B. King and Eric Clapton.
Buddy Guy was later inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2008. Other honors awarded to Buddy Guy include the Kennedy Center Honors, American Academy of Achievement’s Golden Plate Award, twenty-three W.C. Handy Awards, and a National Medal of Arts.
Buddy Guy’s impact on the blues scene remains unmatched by most blues artists. Over his career, Buddy has established himself as one of the most dynamic musicians whose performances never failed to impress. His success is credited to his ability to switch from traditional blues to some electronic blues with a touch of soul, jazz, and Avant rock. Our ten best Buddy Guy songs look at the singer’s most captivating releases of all time.
#10- Blues at My Baby’s House
Ushering us to the top 10 Buddy Guy songs list is the rip-roaring hit “Blues at My Baby’s House.” The song’s lyrics were penned by Buddy Guy, with the song featured on his sixth LP, DJ Play My Blues. “Blues at My Baby’s House” is the longest track from the album, playing for slightly above seven minutes.
The song brings the best of Buddy Guy’s pure blues vibes. In this song, Buddy Guy doesn’t compromise on the guitar’s having him deliver some of his best licks. Songs like “Blues at My Baby’s House” help crown Buddy Guy as one of the most inspirational blues guitarists. Some critics have lauded the guitar solos in this release for their expressive riffs.
#9 – Leave My Girl Alone
“Leave My Girl Alone” takes us to Buddy Guy’s career beginnings. The song was among the first releases after the bluesman signed a recording contract with Chess Records. “Leave My Girl Alone” brings the best of Buddy Guy blues vibes from the LP Left My blues in san Francisco.
The song is sonic rich, thanks to the additional tenor saxophone delivered by the Arkansas-born Monk Higgins. Monk Higgins is remembered for his short solo career and his impact as a sideman to Blue Mitchell, The Three Sounds, and Gene Harris. Other musicians featured in the song include A.C. Reed, still on the tenor saxophonist, Leroy Stewart on the bass guitar, and Matt “Guitar” Murphy on the guitars.
Matt has also been associated with other artists, including The Blues Brothers, Howlin’ Wolf, and Memphis Slim. “Leave My Girl Alone” has also been covered by Travis Tritt, Guitar Slim Jr., Bernard Allison, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, and the Black Mountain Blues Band.
#8 – Skin Deep ft. Derek Trucks
Our number eight track on the ten best Buddy Guy songs is the stunning hit “Skin Deep.” The song serves as the album title track to Buddy Guy’s fourteenth LP. “Skin Deep” saw the bluesman team up with Derek Trucks, who we all know from The Derek Trucks Band, Tedeschi Trucks, and of course, The Allman Brothers Band.
Buddy Guy teamed up with Tom Hambridge and Gary Nicholson in penning the lyrics to this song. In 2018, the bluesman teamed up with the viral-video music charity, Playing for Change towards the re-issue of this hit.
#7 – First Time I Met the Blues
“First Time I Met the Blues” is one of the best Buddy Guy songs that helped define his blues career. The song was issued as a single in 1960 through Chess Records. During this period, Buddy Guy was just on “probation” after his record label failed to have faith in the quality of his vocals.
Unfortunately, the singer failed to succeed under Chess Records. “First Time I Met the Blues” was among the hits released on the 1970 compilation album I Was Walking Through the Woods. Despite not being his most popular record, “First Time I Met the Blues” helped mold Buddy Guy’s career, especially after he signed to Vanguard Records.
#6 – My Time After A While
Number six of our ten best Buddy Guy songs of all time is the hit “My Time After A While.” The song is featured on the singer’s 1970 compilation LP, I Was Walking Through the Woods. I Was Walking Through the Woods was issued through Chess Records, featuring songs Buddy Guy had recorded between 1960 and 1964.
The song was penned by Robert Geddins and Ronald Badger. “My Time After A While” featured the bass tunes delivered by the late Jack Bruce. The Scottish bassist was famously known for his impactful career at the British rock band Cream. Other members of Cream included drummer Ginger Baker and legendary guitarist Eric Clapton.
#5 – Blues Don’t Care ft. Gary Clark Jr.
In 2013, Buddy Guy released his LP Rhythm & Blues. The LP is so far Buddy Guy’s highest-charting album on the Billboard 200. Thanks to the song like “Blues Don’t Care” from the LP that Buddy Guy was able to continue his impactful singing in the second decade of the twenty-first century.
“Blues Don’t Care” finds Buddy Guy teaming up with Grammy Award-winning artist Gary Clark Jr. is famed for his signature hit “This Land.” Producer Tom Hambridge and Richard Fleming are credited with having penned the hit “Blues Don’t Care.”
#4 – Flesh & Bone ft. Van Morrison
“Flesh & Bone” is one of the best Buddy Guy songs of all time from his Grammy Award-winning LP Born to Play Guitar. The song finds Buddy Guy teaming up with the Northern Irish rock star Van Morrison in performing this hit. “Flesh & Bone” was issued as a dedication to blues legend B. B. King.
The song was written by Tom Hambridge and Gary Nicholson. Buddy Guy credits producer Tom Hambridge for bringing Van Morrison into this song. “Flesh & Bone” oozes pure blues sonic vibes thanks to Buddy Guy’s magnificent guitar skills.
#3 – Baby Please Don’t Leave Me
Our number three track on the ten best Buddy Guy songs is the hit “Baby Please Don’t Leave Me.” The song is featured on the Billboard Blues Albums chart-topping LP Sweet Tea. Its lyrics were penned by Junior Kimbrough. Junior Kimbrough is often lauded as one of the best hill country blues and juke joint blues artists.
“Baby Please Don’t Leave Me” was initially released by Junior Kimbrough in 1999. Junior featured his song on the LP Meet Me in the City. However, it is Buddy Guy’s version of the song that rose to popularity after it was released in 2001.
#2- Stay Around a Little Longer ft. B. B. King
After each of the artists had shared the spoils and made their name in the blues scene, Buddy Guy and B. B. King finally released a hit song together. “Stay Around a Little Longer” is one of the most successful collaborative hits by Buddy Guy featuring B. B. King. The song is featured on the Grammy Award-winning LP, Living Proof.
The song was penned by producer Tom Hambridge and Gary Nicholson. “Stay Around a Little Longer” comes to show what two blues legends can do when they put their soulful musical skills together. Unfortunately, B. B. King died five years after the release of this song. Buddy Guy honored him with a dedication song, “Flesh & Bone.”
#1 – Damn Right, I’ve Got the Blues
Number one on our top 10 Buddy Guy songs list is the alluring hit “Damn Right I’ve Got the Blues.” The song is the album title track to Buddy Guy’s seventh LP. Damn Right, I’ve Got the Blues marked Buddy Guy’s first LP to chart on the Billboard 200 and receive a Grammy Award.
The song was penned by Buddy Guy, showcasing the blues man’s lyrical prowess. Buddy Guy also provides the lead vocals and lead electric guitars on the song. This was Buddy Guy’s first globally successful song to feature electric guitars.
Top 10 Buddy Guy Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
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