|Buddy Guy & Junior Wells|
Guy actually saw Wells perform as part of a concert given at his high school in Baton Rouge in the early 50's. By that time, Wells had recorded several of his standard tunes ("Messin' With The Kid," "Hoodoo Man Blues," "Come On In This House") and had replaced Little Walter in Muddy Waters' band. He was not yet twenty years old.
Buddy Guy didn't make it to Chicago until September of 1957. He had been playing in Louisiana with Raful Neal and he cut a demo, called "Baby Don't You Wanna Come Home" at the Baton Rouge radio station WXOK. He decided to try his luck in Chicago because that was where the biggest names were playing. Guy was influenced by two artists as a youngster.....B. B. King and Guitar Slim. "I wanted to play like B. B. but act like Guitar Slim," he said in his autobiography, Damn Right I've Got The Blues, but it was in Chicago where Guy developed his own distinctive sound.
"When we was in Boston, the guy from the Globe called up and said, 'I understand you guys don't get along.' I don't know how they could get that, you know. As long as I been dealing with this guy, if we didn't get along, you wouldn't see us smiling. So I don't know how people could look at us and feel like we don't get along. I just get tired of Junior sometimes. I look into his face more than I do my wife's."Junior Wells had his own thoughts about their friendship:
"I don't have a brother, but Buddy felt like a brother to me after we got into doing things and got messing around, shucking here and shucking there about this and that. I'll tell Buddy things I won't tell nobody. Buddy talks to me about things he won't talk to nobody else about because he knows it will go no further than what me and him said."
They played together occasionally in the 80's, when record deals were few and far between. Guy recorded a few albums for the British label, JSP, in the late 70's and 80's, but Junior was silent on the recording scene for the most part during the 80's. They did appear at the 1989 JazzFest in New Orleans. I got to see them at JazzFest. I never saw Junior Wells perform solo in person except on TV appearances, but I did get to see Guy a couple of years later just before he really hit big with his Silvertone debut in 1991. While I thought he was good solo, I really thought that they brought out the best in each other when they performed together. Where Guy could sometimes be undisciplined as a solo, he stayed pretty grounded during the appearance I caught of him with Wells, and on other appearances I've seen on YouTube and other places. From all accounts, Wells was a pretty tough taskmaster as a bandleader and obviously it rubbed off on Guy when they played together.
As mentioned, Guy's star took off in the 90's, when he scored a deal with Silvertone Records and played in some big venues with the likes of Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Wells landed a deal with Telarc in the early 90's, too, and after a couple of disappointments, he really hit his stride with a live disc recorded at Guy's club, Legends, and a disc featuring Wells with a host of slide guitarists. Soon after, he was diagnosed with lymphoma, suffered a heart attack and lapsed into a coma, passing away in early 1998.