Last month, rising English singer-songwriter James Bay accepted the award for Breakthrough Musician at GQ's Men of the Year event, after a glowing introduction from guitar legend Ronnie Wood. The two musicians built on that camaraderie during Bay's September 30th show at London's Brixton Academy – the first of three sold-out gigs – with Wood delivering a scorching guitar solo on a cover of the Faces' "(You Know) I'm Losing You."
"It's been a mad few weeks," Bay tells Rolling Stone. "Back at the beginning of September, Ronnie presented me with an award (insane moment!) So I was lucky enough to meet and get to hang with him (and Keith [Richards]!) that night. Later on, Ronnie and I got talking, and he'd asked what I was up to, etc. I'd been telling everyone how excited I was about my three nights coming up at Brixton Academy. Next thing I know, all caught up in the moment, the question just jumped out, 'Would you be up for joining me onstage?' He said he'd totally be up for it. And that was that. The rest, as they say… "
The 25-year-old Bay released his debut LP, Chaos and the Calm, in March, earning an impressive following with his blend of folk and blues rock. Among his admirers are two Rolling Stones veterans, Wood and Keith Richards, the latter of whom praised Bay last month during an interview with The Quietus. "Ed Sheeran is really interesting to me ... And James Bay," the guitarist said of his favorite young artists. "They're the two that come to mind immediately.”
Richards was also in attendance at the GQ ceremony, where Wood gave Bay a flattering introduction. "It blew me away, actually, because new people don't often do that to me," Wood said of the musician. "Good band, great singer, great guitar player ... This guy looks like he's got a great future."