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Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Jeff Beck Rock Crossroads Fest

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The architects were all there, too — Buddy Guy, along with B.B. King and Hubert Sumlin (the latter two shared a dressing room and used wheelchairs to make it to the stage). Sumlin sat on a stool, grinning through a stunning "Sitting on Top of the World" with an oxygen tank attached to his nose alongside Jimmy Vaughn and Robert Cray in the early afternoon. "There's three or four generations here," said Trucks. "It's beautiful to see Johnny, Hubert and B.B. Eric and everybody are children hanging out with these guys. With Hubert, everybody here is thrilled to be in his presence. He's like the pope. The blues pope."

Crow offered a refreshing break from 12-bar-blues with hits like "Every Day is a Winding Road," and Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes and Susan Tedeschi put together a last-minute band of touring buddies, including Los Lobos' David Hidalgo and Johnny Winter, to fill in for the absent Allman Brothers Band, channeling Delaney and Bonnie with a blazing "Coming Home." "It was the first time we played together onstage," Trucks laughed after the set.

As the sun set behind the stadium, Jeff Beck played an experimental set that jumped from jazz to classical. He tackled Puccini's "Nessun Dorma," a synth-backed "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and his set highlight, a crushing cover of Sly & the Family Stone's "I Want to Take You Higher." The always-sleeveless legend played skilled bandleader, unleashing carefully chosen guitar assaults while passing around the spotlight to slap bass and tribal drum solos.

When Clapton took the stage next, he bowed to Hendrix and launched into a punchy "Crossroads," then welcomed Beck back for the scorching blues classic "Shake Your Moneymaker." Steve Winwood joined for a set heavy on Blind Faith classics. Winwood's voice sounded perfectly intact on "Dear Mr. Fantasy," "Can't Find My Way Home," and an upbeat, guitar-slinging cover of Buddy Holly's "Well All Right."

The night wrapped up with King, Clapton, Cray and Jimmy Vaughn side by side in wooden chairs, trading licks on a laid-back take on "Rock Me Baby." "When you're 84 like me, you get to say whatever you want," King told the crowd, with Clapton watching him carefully. King rambled over the track for 10-plus minutes, sending fans out the door and eventually guest stars started arriving without warning. Twenty guitarists filled the stage for a sloppy-but-passionate "Sweet Home Chicago" as Tedeschi wailed on vocals. "I've seen a lot of musicians up on a stage but I've never seen that many," Guy said. "Even if we only got one note apiece, it was one of the thrills of my life."

Clapton saved one last surprise for the very end of the night. Though he'd revealed to Rolling Stone this Crossroads would be his last, he evidently had a change of heart. "I know I said this would be the last one," he told the crowd. "But I don't think it will be." After the show, Guy was relieved: "He must have had as much fun as I did."

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