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According to Eric Clapton, John Mayer, and the late Stevie Ray Vaughn, Buddy Guy is the greatest blues guitarist of all time. An enormous influence on these musicians as well as Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck, he is the living embodiment of Chicago blues. Guy's epic story stands at the absolute nexus of modern blues. He came to Chicago from rural Louisiana in the According to Eric Clapton, John Mayer, and the late Stevie Ray Vaughn, Buddy Guy is the greatest blues guitarist of all time. An enormous influence on these musicians as well as Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck, he is the living embodiment of Chicago blues. Guy's epic story stands at the absolute nexus of modern blues. He came to Chicago from rural Louisiana in the fifties—the very moment when urban blues were electrifying our culture. He was a regular session player at Chess Records. Willie Dixon was his mentor. He was a sideman in the bands of Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf. He and Junior Wells formed a band of their own. In the sixties, he became a recording star in his own right. When I Left Home tells Guy's picaresque story in his own unique voice, that of a storyteller who remembers everything, including blues masters in their prime and the exploding, evolving culture of music that happened all around him.


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According to Eric Clapton, John Mayer, and the late Stevie Ray Vaughn, Buddy Guy is the greatest blues guitarist of all time. An enormous influence on these musicians as well as Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck, he is the living embodiment of Chicago blues. Guy's epic story stands at the absolute nexus of modern blues. He came to Chicago from rural Louisiana in the According to Eric Clapton, John Mayer, and the late Stevie Ray Vaughn, Buddy Guy is the greatest blues guitarist of all time. An enormous influence on these musicians as well as Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck, he is the living embodiment of Chicago blues. Guy's epic story stands at the absolute nexus of modern blues. He came to Chicago from rural Louisiana in the fifties—the very moment when urban blues were electrifying our culture. He was a regular session player at Chess Records. Willie Dixon was his mentor. He was a sideman in the bands of Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf. He and Junior Wells formed a band of their own. In the sixties, he became a recording star in his own right. When I Left Home tells Guy's picaresque story in his own unique voice, that of a storyteller who remembers everything, including blues masters in their prime and the exploding, evolving culture of music that happened all around him.

30 review for When I Left Home: My Story

  1. 5 out of 5

    J.K. Grice

    The last of the living blues Guitar Titans (R.I.P. Chuck Berry), Buddy Guy truly is a music legend. Arriving in Chicago as a young man, he was mentored by Muddy Waters. A close mutual friend of mine introduced me to Buddy at his night club LEGENDS in Chicago one summer. What a nice, unassuming man he was....very gracious. However, when he gets on stage, LOOK OUT! My favorite album of his is SWEET TEA. Imagine if Hendrix would have lived to be 70 years old and released a blues album. That's what The last of the living blues Guitar Titans (R.I.P. Chuck Berry), Buddy Guy truly is a music legend. Arriving in Chicago as a young man, he was mentored by Muddy Waters. A close mutual friend of mine introduced me to Buddy at his night club LEGENDS in Chicago one summer. What a nice, unassuming man he was....very gracious. However, when he gets on stage, LOOK OUT! My favorite album of his is SWEET TEA. Imagine if Hendrix would have lived to be 70 years old and released a blues album. That's what Buddy reminds me of on SWEET TEA. He absolutely thrashes that polka dot guitar ax of his. Just beautiful... ....And, so is this book. A wonderful portrait of one great man's life.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Judd

    I have read many bios and auto-bios on both pre and post war blues artists ... this one is shaping up to be one of the best of the lot. It is not a straight autobio. It is Buddy kicking back and telling stories and anecdotes about his life and his life in the blues. It is very much in his own voice. You can just about feel his passion for the blues in the way he tells his tales. The part when Buddy's daddy bought him his first guitar was a near tear jerker. Just finished this book. I couldn't put I have read many bios and auto-bios on both pre and post war blues artists ... this one is shaping up to be one of the best of the lot. It is not a straight autobio. It is Buddy kicking back and telling stories and anecdotes about his life and his life in the blues. It is very much in his own voice. You can just about feel his passion for the blues in the way he tells his tales. The part when Buddy's daddy bought him his first guitar was a near tear jerker. Just finished this book. I couldn't put it down. I walked away with a deeper appreciation for the man that Buddy is. His moral compass kept him on the right track and his passion for the blues keeps him on top of his game ... even at 75. I saw him last summer in London and he blew the mother-fucking room of the joint. Damn right. Don't skip this book. I am listening to this one on the audible.com app. I am about an hour or so through it. Damn good.

  3. 4 out of 5

    SoulSurvivor

    Probably more of a 3-star read but love his music and have a bit of personal history with Buddy. I have spent time in his old Chicago blues bar, 'Checkerboard Lounge' and spoken with him several time by telephone. He's a great 'guy', and generous with his time. I can't argue with the finest guitarists in the world that include him among the best. Probably more of a 3-star read but love his music and have a bit of personal history with Buddy. I have spent time in his old Chicago blues bar, 'Checkerboard Lounge' and spoken with him several time by telephone. He's a great 'guy', and generous with his time. I can't argue with the finest guitarists in the world that include him among the best.

  4. 5 out of 5

    David James

    Lively and fun to read. Buddy Guy followed the same path as Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, and other great Delta bluesmen who emigrated north to Chicago. Since he was some years younger he arrived when the scene was at its apex and became a participant, getting to know many of the best players along his bumpy road toward establishing himself in the same league. Known for being an all-around good-guy, he comes across well in this book. Telling it in his conversational style rather than in formal Eng Lively and fun to read. Buddy Guy followed the same path as Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, and other great Delta bluesmen who emigrated north to Chicago. Since he was some years younger he arrived when the scene was at its apex and became a participant, getting to know many of the best players along his bumpy road toward establishing himself in the same league. Known for being an all-around good-guy, he comes across well in this book. Telling it in his conversational style rather than in formal English lends the reader a further sense of Guy's own personality. He's not afraid of admitting some of his own shortcomings and never wallows in his own hard-earned success. He just tells us how it was, both for good and for bad. He respects his elders deeply, but doesn't idolize them, giving us a well rounded look at some of the imperfect men who made such amazingly perfect music. For fans of the Blues this is an essential book. The only failing here is its brevity. It could have been twice as long and still seemed too short. But it's written the way Guy plays: right to the point. He's still going strong in his seventies, and we can only wish him many more years to enjoy his well deserved regal position in the Blues world. This book is just icing on a cake he's been serving us for over half a century. Thanks, Buddy.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Robin Webster

    Buddy Guy is one of the most influential guitarists to come out of the blues. Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck and many other guitarists were influenced by him. As well has having a very successful solo career, he has known and played with a number of the great blues legends: like Muddy Walters, Howling Wolf, John Lee Hooker, plus many others. Despite now entering his mid to late seventies, he still plays the guitar with an energy, depth and enthusiasm of someone half his age. By opting for Buddy Guy is one of the most influential guitarists to come out of the blues. Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck and many other guitarists were influenced by him. As well has having a very successful solo career, he has known and played with a number of the great blues legends: like Muddy Walters, Howling Wolf, John Lee Hooker, plus many others. Despite now entering his mid to late seventies, he still plays the guitar with an energy, depth and enthusiasm of someone half his age. By opting for David Ritz, Buddy Guy really did pick the right man to collaborate with him on this biography. They obviously were very much at ease with each other. For anyone who is interested in ‘the blues’ this biography has a great feel to it. Reading this biography is like sitting at a bar with him while he tells you stories in his own relaxed and casual way. They are stories of being raised by a loving family of sharecroppers in the Southern States of America in the 1940’s and lots of interesting stories of his time playing with the great blues legends and his musical partnership with Junior Wells. In my humble opinion, I think this book is a must for anyone interested the Chicago blues scene in the late 1950’s to early 1960’s.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    A quick and easy read, breezy in tone about music making and reverent regarding the blues greats who came before him. While I would love a more detailed account of Buddy's fascinating life in and out of the blues, reading this is like a cup of gumbo and a beer, tasty, satisfying and leaving you wanting more. A quick and easy read, breezy in tone about music making and reverent regarding the blues greats who came before him. While I would love a more detailed account of Buddy's fascinating life in and out of the blues, reading this is like a cup of gumbo and a beer, tasty, satisfying and leaving you wanting more.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Dawn Lennon

    I've read a lot of musician autobiographies and biographies and this one by Buddy Guy with David Ritz was by far the best. You don't need to know who Buddy guy is, one of the great bluesmen with Muddy Waters and BB King, to get absorbed by this book. It is essentially a snapshot of what it meant to be a poor sharecropper in the 1940's, what it took to find a new life in music, and how a life unfolds under some of the most challenging circumstances because you loved music, particularly the blues. I've read a lot of musician autobiographies and biographies and this one by Buddy Guy with David Ritz was by far the best. You don't need to know who Buddy guy is, one of the great bluesmen with Muddy Waters and BB King, to get absorbed by this book. It is essentially a snapshot of what it meant to be a poor sharecropper in the 1940's, what it took to find a new life in music, and how a life unfolds under some of the most challenging circumstances because you loved music, particularly the blues. From a life in rural Louisianna to the rough city of Chicago, Buddy Guy followed the pull of the blues on his soul. Somehow the music was his guide through a hard life where he did his best to follow what he thought was good and right, even when what was suspect tried to pull him in other directions. It's clear that Buddy cared about people, loved those who helped him, and was grateful for any good that came his way. There's a fascinating lesson here about the power of love in the family that raises us. Buddy never feared being poor, down and out, or booed when he performed because he felt a kind of love that was hard-wired within, originating from his parents. He published the book when he was 75 and at 82 today is still out there playing the blues, reminding us that a touch of it resides in all of us if we look for it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mike Violano

    This autobiography is a great life story of a blues music legend. Guy takes you on his journey with early life with his family sharecropping in Louisiana to his struggles in breaking into the blues clubs and music industry in Chicago to achieving recognition and success and keeping the blues alive and fresh at his club Legends. Filled with stories about the people who built the blues-- Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, Guitar Slim, Junior Wells and many others. Heading into the sixties, This autobiography is a great life story of a blues music legend. Guy takes you on his journey with early life with his family sharecropping in Louisiana to his struggles in breaking into the blues clubs and music industry in Chicago to achieving recognition and success and keeping the blues alive and fresh at his club Legends. Filled with stories about the people who built the blues-- Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, Guitar Slim, Junior Wells and many others. Heading into the sixties, Buddy is discovered by guitarists who worship his talent and style-- Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Keith Richards, and Jimi Hendrix and meets and plays with many of them. Very entertaining and uplifting. Filled with humor and a determined perseverance in a life and times filled with adversity. The only disappointments are the limited photo insert and the dash through the 1990s to the present.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Stacy Bearse

    Pretend you are on a long, international flight sitting next to blues guitar legend, Buddy Guy. You turn to Buddy and say, "tell me about your life". The monologue that would ensue is captured in WHEN I LEFT HOME. Don't look for sophisticated writing; this autobiography is 261 pages of narrative, spoken in the style of a savvy bluesman who emigrated from the sharecropper fields of Louisiana to the mean streets of Chicago. But the jargon and flawed syntax is part of what gives the story authentic Pretend you are on a long, international flight sitting next to blues guitar legend, Buddy Guy. You turn to Buddy and say, "tell me about your life". The monologue that would ensue is captured in WHEN I LEFT HOME. Don't look for sophisticated writing; this autobiography is 261 pages of narrative, spoken in the style of a savvy bluesman who emigrated from the sharecropper fields of Louisiana to the mean streets of Chicago. But the jargon and flawed syntax is part of what gives the story authenticity and charm. Any reader will recognize many famous musicians cited here, from Muddy Waters to Jimi Hendrix, to the Rolling Stones. Students of the blues will appreciate the tales of more obscure characters, like Guitar Slim, Howlin' Wolf, Lightnin' Hopkins, Willie Dixon and the notorious recording executive, Leonard Chess. I'm sure that some serious academic historian will fault Guy's rose-colored recollections. But to me, this is a whopping good tale well told.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    I'm not a blues fan. But this was an interesting autobiography of Buddy Guy, a blues guitarist. It was a humbly told story. It amazes me how hard this business was to get into and how hard it was on the musicians. They must have been driven by their love of music to pursue this type of career, because it certainly wasn't money. The money came later. I liked the professional and respectful nods he gave to other musicians. It is interesting how different types of people (rock, blues, etc.) are pull I'm not a blues fan. But this was an interesting autobiography of Buddy Guy, a blues guitarist. It was a humbly told story. It amazes me how hard this business was to get into and how hard it was on the musicians. They must have been driven by their love of music to pursue this type of career, because it certainly wasn't money. The money came later. I liked the professional and respectful nods he gave to other musicians. It is interesting how different types of people (rock, blues, etc.) are pulled together when they all desire the same things.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jeanne

    Five stars for Buddy Guy....

  12. 5 out of 5

    Utkarsh Sinha

    What a book for a blues fan! Buddy Guy's story is a story of a legend who got his due in life much later than you'd believe. Son of a sharecropper, a two string guitar to start with, small town guy from the South moving to Chicago with no support, cheated out of royalties, and surviving the 60s through 80s with little to show for in terms of recognition. The book is full of anecdotes that involve Buddy Guy, but also other legends - Muddy Waters, Lightnin' Hopkins, Howlin' Wolf, BB King, Eric Clapt What a book for a blues fan! Buddy Guy's story is a story of a legend who got his due in life much later than you'd believe. Son of a sharecropper, a two string guitar to start with, small town guy from the South moving to Chicago with no support, cheated out of royalties, and surviving the 60s through 80s with little to show for in terms of recognition. The book is full of anecdotes that involve Buddy Guy, but also other legends - Muddy Waters, Lightnin' Hopkins, Howlin' Wolf, BB King, Eric Clapton and who not. A treat for people who have at any point in time went down the blues rabbithole. But perhaps the most unique bit about this book is the phrasing. Written as if it's a spoken word transcription, you can almost hear a Buddy Guy-style musicality in the punctuation, choice of words, sentence length, and so on. 100% recommend if you are a blues fan.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    The great bluesman Buddy Guy’s story in some ways was the story of any bluesman who left the South for Chicago near the middle of the 20th century, lured by the electified sound of what’s now called the Chicago Blues, created by earlier artists like Muddy Waters, Earl Hooker, and Howlin’ Wolf. In some ways it’s not like so many other artists’ stories at all, for so many of them lived and died in complete obscurity. That was not Buddy Guy’s destiny, and of course that’s the bulk of what this book The great bluesman Buddy Guy’s story in some ways was the story of any bluesman who left the South for Chicago near the middle of the 20th century, lured by the electified sound of what’s now called the Chicago Blues, created by earlier artists like Muddy Waters, Earl Hooker, and Howlin’ Wolf. In some ways it’s not like so many other artists’ stories at all, for so many of them lived and died in complete obscurity. That was not Buddy Guy’s destiny, and of course that’s the bulk of what this book is about. Buddy’s early life as a sharecropper’s son in Louisiana, however, is not given short shrift. There’s a good deal of fascinating detail about what life for a black man was like at that time and in that place, the strong values his parents imbued in him, and what led him to music in the first place. This information has to inform the reader’s understanding of the next phase of his life, when he left home to make his fortune in Chicago. In those early days, however, there wasn’t a lot of fortune to be had. Buddy was sharing a flat with a family friend, an apartment so small they had to take turns sleeping. He played guitar at any club that would let him, entering and winning so-called open guitar contests where the winner was award a pint of whiskey. Buddy often won, but whiskey isn’t money and his roommate usually drank it anyway before Buddy was done with his set. After about a year of this he was broke with few prospects, and almost ready to give up. It was then that he was taken under the wing of the legendary Muddy Waters who provided both encouragement and the occasional sandwich to keep Buddy going. The situation did improve, but slowly. Buddy started cutting records, first on the Cobra label, then with Chess. Chess, especially, is legendary for its early blues records, but almost as legendary for the way it exploited its artists. There was money to be made in blues, but by and large it wasn’t the performers who were making it. While the records were helping with name recognition, it was performing in the clubs that kept the musicians going. Then came the 1960’s. Here’s where Buddy Guy’s story as well as the history of blues itself veers off into the ironic. By the end of the 1950’s the younger black audiences were drifting away from traditional blues to pop, soul and R&B. Blues was considered “old folks’ music.” The blues clubs around Chicago were dying off and shutting down. But a funny thing had happened along the way—performers like Big Bill Broonzy and Muddy Waters had done tours in England, where the blues and especially later the electrified variety by Muddy Waters was serving as the seed for a new generation of English musicians inspired by American blues. When groups and musicians like the Rolling Stones and the Beatles and Eric Clapton came to America, it was the blues musicians that they wanted to hear, talk about and promote. It’s probably an exaggeration to say that the British Invasion saved American blues as a musical form, but it did mean new opportunities and greatly expanded audiences for many of the performers who had dedicated their lives to the blues, and Buddy Guy was one of them. It would be foolish to attempt to summarize Buddy Guy’s career in a review. If you don’t know who he is but have an interest in the music and the scene in Chicago during one of the blues' most formative periods, this is a great book to pick up. David Ritz does a good job of capturing Buddy Guy’s distinctive voice. If you already know, but want something a lot closer to the “whole story,” then this is also the book for you. Highly recommended.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ranjeev Dubey

    Having read my share of musician autobiographies, I can confirm that most do not survive the PR specialist’s editorial input! This robs the material of much of its raw power: exactly the stuff that attracts me to the music in the first place. What you end up with is a sugar coated image building job (okay, exclude Keith Richards from the foregoing!) Buddy Guys biography promised to be different. It begins with a boy growing up in a sharecropper family in the back of beyond picking cotton all day Having read my share of musician autobiographies, I can confirm that most do not survive the PR specialist’s editorial input! This robs the material of much of its raw power: exactly the stuff that attracts me to the music in the first place. What you end up with is a sugar coated image building job (okay, exclude Keith Richards from the foregoing!) Buddy Guys biography promised to be different. It begins with a boy growing up in a sharecropper family in the back of beyond picking cotton all day living in a shack without electricity. It then continues to his migration to Chicago where he meets and works with the greatest of the greats - Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, B.B.King, etc – and describes evocatively the atmosphere of those Blues clubs of the time. It’s a beautiful portrait of Chicago in the 1960s and I lapped up every bit of it, till the whole thing came crashing down…. The book had promised great insight, only to deceive. Once we hit the flower power era, the narrative loses its way. What is the musician describing? None of it is particularly personal or insightful. Yes he talks about people like Hendrix and Joplin, but only just. What is the purpose of the book? The questions blow in the wind. And so, this book gets three stars for the promise of the first third of the book, but it gets three stars grudgingly. Two and a half would be more honest.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tony Nielsen

    Being a blues "nut", and a Buddy Guy fan since the late '60's means that I was pretty biased before I started reading his autobiography. But the fact is its just a great read. From the outset Buddy comes across as a really down to earth guy, modest and self effacing. His life hasn't always been easy, trying to make it as a professional musician playing the blues became fraught when black Americans moved onto other genres like soul and later hip hop. That was when he had to drive trucks by day an Being a blues "nut", and a Buddy Guy fan since the late '60's means that I was pretty biased before I started reading his autobiography. But the fact is its just a great read. From the outset Buddy comes across as a really down to earth guy, modest and self effacing. His life hasn't always been easy, trying to make it as a professional musician playing the blues became fraught when black Americans moved onto other genres like soul and later hip hop. That was when he had to drive trucks by day and play the blues by night in Chicago, after he moved from Louisiana in his teens. Fortunately as the appeal of the blues tapered off for the black audience, a young white college audience was introduced to the genre by the British blues boom that was led by the likes of the Stones, the Animals, the Yardbirds and John Mayall. Aside from sharing Buddy's journey his anecdotes about the likes of Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Howlin' Wolf and Leonard Chess are priceless. They also represent an insiders viewpoint of the Chicago blues scene which is unique. I was lucky enough to meet Buddy and hear him play at his Legends Club in Chicago a few years ago. In person he's every bit as gracious and unpretentious as he comes across in "When I Left Home".

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jpaflas

    Auto Bio of my original blues guitar hero Buddy Guy with David Ritz. Writing is decent. But that is not the reason to read this book. the reason is learning somethings about Buddy's amazing life I hadn't yet. In that respect a very good book. It is not quite as good as the Muddy Waters bio (I Can't be Satisfied), mainly because Buddy's is shorter and doesn't include nearly as much detail. But if you dig the blues you should read this book. Budddy is one of the nicest stars I ever met; each time Auto Bio of my original blues guitar hero Buddy Guy with David Ritz. Writing is decent. But that is not the reason to read this book. the reason is learning somethings about Buddy's amazing life I hadn't yet. In that respect a very good book. It is not quite as good as the Muddy Waters bio (I Can't be Satisfied), mainly because Buddy's is shorter and doesn't include nearly as much detail. But if you dig the blues you should read this book. Budddy is one of the nicest stars I ever met; each time I met him he took the time to talk and was positive and encouraging about my guit playing. Thanks, Buddy.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Douglas Graney

    I saw Buddy Guy a couple years ago and really enjoyed his show. So when I saw his book in the library I picked it up, right quick. Like a lot of musician books there were struggles before making it big. Unlike the other books there was not the conscientious self-abuse and obligatory rehab followed by either death or a new lease on life...thus a refreshing read. I love how he honors those that came before him and those that came during and after him. He did that at his show and it was really cool I saw Buddy Guy a couple years ago and really enjoyed his show. So when I saw his book in the library I picked it up, right quick. Like a lot of musician books there were struggles before making it big. Unlike the other books there was not the conscientious self-abuse and obligatory rehab followed by either death or a new lease on life...thus a refreshing read. I love how he honors those that came before him and those that came during and after him. He did that at his show and it was really cool. Def worth reading.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Quick, entertaining read. It's basically a love letter to the forefathers of blues music and Mr. Guy's influences. His love of the music and those who came before him and those who carry the torch today shines brightly in this brief memoir. The book is chock full of Buddy's stories about his life and the musical characters and friends he met over the course of his career. Often these stories are raunchy and hilarious but sometimes tragic. I love Buddy Guy's music and this book only adds to his l Quick, entertaining read. It's basically a love letter to the forefathers of blues music and Mr. Guy's influences. His love of the music and those who came before him and those who carry the torch today shines brightly in this brief memoir. The book is chock full of Buddy's stories about his life and the musical characters and friends he met over the course of his career. Often these stories are raunchy and hilarious but sometimes tragic. I love Buddy Guy's music and this book only adds to his legacy.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Luigi

    I really enjoyed this book, a real down to earth view of his life and some of his experiences. Any blues fan will enjoy this book which tells the stories of Buddy's life, as well as his close relationships, particularly Junior Wells. Buddy tells it as he saw it, as it was and draws you into his life and times as a good autobiography should. I really enjoyed this book, a real down to earth view of his life and some of his experiences. Any blues fan will enjoy this book which tells the stories of Buddy's life, as well as his close relationships, particularly Junior Wells. Buddy tells it as he saw it, as it was and draws you into his life and times as a good autobiography should.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Stuart B. Roberts

    He still has the blues Coming from a small town to following his dream and talent to become one the best Blues men. I wished he stayed in the Baton Rouge and glad that he still comes back every now and then. I had a hard time putting this book down. He is quite influence on other musicians, from rock to the blues.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Theimaginarygirl

    This book made me so happy, in so many ways!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Winter Sophia Rose

    Insightful, Enlightening & Deeply Inspiring! I Loved This Soulful Read!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Richard Zaric

    Pretty good book from one of my favourite bluesmen. It's a quick read and not too complicated. I like the detail on his childhood and his early years after he moved to Chicago. The back half of the book tends to be a series of interesting stories about other bluesmen and characters he'd met over the years. While there is much detail on his family when he was growing up (father, mother, siblings), there is very little on his wives and children. In fact, the past 20 years of his life seems to be g Pretty good book from one of my favourite bluesmen. It's a quick read and not too complicated. I like the detail on his childhood and his early years after he moved to Chicago. The back half of the book tends to be a series of interesting stories about other bluesmen and characters he'd met over the years. While there is much detail on his family when he was growing up (father, mother, siblings), there is very little on his wives and children. In fact, the past 20 years of his life seems to be given a cursory treatment. I suspect the co-auther (David Ritz) provided the heavy lifting in terms of writing support. What I like is the conversational feel. There are plenty of double negatives and other grammatical faux pas that make it seem like your talking to Buddy across the table with a beer. I would have preferred a more definitive discography, but I do like the detailed index in the back. I always suspected Buddy was a real-deal stand-up guy and this book doesn't dissuade me from that. He's certainly not perfect, but many bluesmen of that era led hard lives and were far from perfect. He's humble and is quick to give credit to those that had inspired him or helped him a long the way. He doesn't threw too much dirt in this biography. This book is recommend for any fan of the blues, especially electric Chicago-style.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Justin

    As a fan of the musician, I was instantly drawn to this book. I wasn't disappointed. Buddy Guy has lived a very interesting life and When I Left Home chronicles a great deal of it, from his childhood and the infamous story of how he made his first guitar to his long years as a Chicago session musician. Buddy's involvement with such iconic figures in rock 'n' roll and blues as members of the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Muddy Waters and others are described vividly, but also with a remarkable de As a fan of the musician, I was instantly drawn to this book. I wasn't disappointed. Buddy Guy has lived a very interesting life and When I Left Home chronicles a great deal of it, from his childhood and the infamous story of how he made his first guitar to his long years as a Chicago session musician. Buddy's involvement with such iconic figures in rock 'n' roll and blues as members of the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Muddy Waters and others are described vividly, but also with a remarkable degree of humility — as much of a legend as the man is in music circles, Guy never seems to let it go to his head. A good read if you're at all interested in blues music and the influences it had on rock 'n' roll.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Even though I was reading the paperback edition - one of the few I bought recently new direct from a bookseller because I am a longtime fan of this blues magician on the guitar - his voice was so strong and true I felt like I was listening to him reading his book on tape. Loved reading about his family in Louisiana and discovered one thing. A moralist doesn't have to be a goody two shoes. He's got his head on straight, has great values, but is also very very human with flaws - so he is definitely Even though I was reading the paperback edition - one of the few I bought recently new direct from a bookseller because I am a longtime fan of this blues magician on the guitar - his voice was so strong and true I felt like I was listening to him reading his book on tape. Loved reading about his family in Louisiana and discovered one thing. A moralist doesn't have to be a goody two shoes. He's got his head on straight, has great values, but is also very very human with flaws - so he is definitely not a preacher who makes you sick with it. And to read about his father's impressions of Wrigley Field and Ernie Banks brought a tear to my eye and made me homesick for Chicago again. Have been to his Blues Club a few times many, many years ago, and hope to stop in again on my next trip home.

  26. 4 out of 5

    George Henry

    As a fan of the blues and a blues guitar player, I enjoyed reading about Buddy Guy's rise to fame as the last living icon of the generation that followed behind Muddy Water's and then B.B. King's. The biography reminded me of B.B. King's story: a rise to the top from a sharecropper's son through hard, hard work, and the duplicitous characters (e.g., Willie Dixon and Leonard Chess) they ran into when it came to the recording business. Too many of the other blues players Buddy mingled with were ba As a fan of the blues and a blues guitar player, I enjoyed reading about Buddy Guy's rise to fame as the last living icon of the generation that followed behind Muddy Water's and then B.B. King's. The biography reminded me of B.B. King's story: a rise to the top from a sharecropper's son through hard, hard work, and the duplicitous characters (e.g., Willie Dixon and Leonard Chess) they ran into when it came to the recording business. Too many of the other blues players Buddy mingled with were bad-tempered alcoholics and wife-beaters so surviving that life to be still playing in his early eighties alone deserves praise. A good read for blues aficionados.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Liz Mandeville

    Absolutely loved this book! I gained a new appreciation for one of the last, living, true blues men from the great post war migration. Buddy tells his tale of growing up on a farm in rural Louisiana, his first guitar and first influences, coming to Chicago and so much more. He gives intimate portraits of his influences and their real personalities and natures. People like Muddy Waters and the Howlin Wolf helped Buddy get started in Chicago. He recorded for Leonard Chess and outlines his highs an Absolutely loved this book! I gained a new appreciation for one of the last, living, true blues men from the great post war migration. Buddy tells his tale of growing up on a farm in rural Louisiana, his first guitar and first influences, coming to Chicago and so much more. He gives intimate portraits of his influences and their real personalities and natures. People like Muddy Waters and the Howlin Wolf helped Buddy get started in Chicago. He recorded for Leonard Chess and outlines his highs and lows in such an approachable way. A great read for anyone who likes biography and a required read for anyone who loves the Blues!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Roger Rohweder

    I am a huge fan of Buddy Guy, and so biased that my rating may not work for others. I love "hearing" his voice in this autobiography. I was born and raised just north of Chicago, and so I also have that bias. But if you are a blues fan, there is much to love about the stories of Buddy and his contemporaries. And you just have to love Buddy. I am a huge fan of Buddy Guy, and so biased that my rating may not work for others. I love "hearing" his voice in this autobiography. I was born and raised just north of Chicago, and so I also have that bias. But if you are a blues fan, there is much to love about the stories of Buddy and his contemporaries. And you just have to love Buddy.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Paul Hunter

    Fabulous read. One of the absolute pillars of blues but always on the second rung of commercial appreciation. Part musical biography, part historical snapshot of what was often a brutal world to inhabit for Buddy in America-a real pleasure to get to know the historic the man. Suitably excited to revisit his back catalog again.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Fer Grajales

    This book is AMAZING! Especially for musicians and producer even more for guitar players. Buddy Guy has been a key figure in the Blues scene, in this book he tells his story from the plantation in Louisiana all the way to the big blues venues in Chicago to working with the greatest blues players in history like Muddy Waters. Narration and audio quality great.

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