Summer blues as Buddy Guy abruptly cancels Israel shows at last minute

Guy said he was cancelling his shows due to "ongoing unrest and recent military operations."

 Buddy Guy (photo credit: PAUL NATKIN)
Buddy Guy
(photo credit: PAUL NATKIN)

Legendary American blues guitarist Buddy Guy on Monday abruptly canceled his two Israeli performances scheduled for next week, on July 19 at the Caesarea Amphitheater and the following night at the Tel Aviv Arts Center.

The 87-year-old Guy  - who was arriving here as part of his Damn Right Farewell Tour ahead of his planned retirement - issued a statement via Israel promoter Shuki Weiss, saying, “To all my fans in Israel, due to ongoing unrest and recent military operations, I am choosing not to travel to the region, and unfortunately I will be cancelling my July 19 and 20 performances. From the bottom of my heart, I am so sorry for any inconvenience. I wish you all peace and love.”

Guy might have been referring to last week’s IDF operation to weaken terrorists in Jenin, but the message didn’t delineate the specific unrest or military operation. He last performed in the country in 2016 at a sold-out show in Caesarea.

“We were very disappointed to receive Buddy Guy’s announcement, and we’re very sorry for the greatest audience in the world in Israel,” said Weiss in a statement, announcing that all tickets would be refunded.

Local Tel Aviv bluesman Dov Hammer, who was planning to see the show said he was puzzled and disappointed by Guy’s announcement.

Buddy Guy (credit: PAUL NATKIN)
Buddy Guy (credit: PAUL NATKIN)

“His press release is really unclear, it’s not a “raving BDS” , Roger Waters-style anti Israel thing. It mentions “military operations” but the Jenin operation was over last week,” he said.

“I have seen Buddy Guy perform several times over the years, in Israel and in the US, and he is one of the most electrifying performers I have ever seen - and still is, even in his 80’s.  And he is billing this as a farewell tour, his last international tour, so the Israeli audience is really missing an opportunity to see an amazing show. I guess I am lucky to have seen him before, he will always be one of my musical heroes and a major inspiration.”

Buddy Guy's decades-long career

Making a name backing luminaries like Willie Dixon, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter and harmonica player Junior Wells in the 1950s and 60s, Guy’s brilliant guitar playing caught the ears and hearts of a whole generation of young rock guitarists in the 1960s, among them Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck, who became Guy disciples.

Clapton has called Guy “the best guitarist I’ve ever heard” on frequent occasions. Carlos Santana considers him “probably the most naked musician on the blues scene — just raw and intense in every note he plays.”

At his 2016 show in Caesarea, Guy paused between songs and said to the crowd, “People always ask me, ‘Do you have to suffer to play the blues?’ And I tell them ‘No, all you gotta do is just keep on livin’.” Apparently, he feels he can do that best by staying away from Israel.