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When I Left Home: My Story

4.21  ·  Rating Details ·  643 Ratings  ·  96 Reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published May 8th 2012 by Da Capo Press (first published May 1st 2012)
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May 20, 2012 Judd rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
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
Robin Webster
Jan 30, 2013 Robin Webster rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Jul 24, 2012 Stephen rated it really liked it
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.
David James
May 19, 2014 David James rated it it was amazing
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
Mike Violano
Jun 13, 2012 Mike Violano rated it really liked it
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, ...more
Stacy Bearse
May 05, 2013 Stacy Bearse rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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 ...more
Apr 13, 2015 Donna rated it liked it
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
Aug 03, 2013 Jeanne rated it it was amazing
Five stars for Buddy Guy....
Oct 16, 2014 Richard rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Ranjeev Dubey
Oct 29, 2015 Ranjeev Dubey rated it liked it
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
Tony Nielsen
Feb 01, 2013 Tony Nielsen rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Aug 23, 2013 Jpaflas rated it liked it
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 ...more
May 22, 2015 Chris rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Douglas Graney
Jul 01, 2014 Douglas Graney rated it really liked it
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
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.
Mar 14, 2014 Luigi rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music, autobiography
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.

Winter Sophia Rose
Sep 19, 2015 Winter Sophia Rose rated it it was amazing
Insightful, Enlightening & Deeply Inspiring! I Loved This Soulful Read!
Jul 26, 2012 Theimaginarygirl rated it it was amazing
This book made me so happy, in so many ways!
Alyce Rocco
Oct 08, 2012 Alyce Rocco rated it liked it
David Ritz is coauthor of When I Left Home: My Story by Buddy Guy. I did not know this until I was finished reading it; the flavor was as if Guy was telling the story, conversational.

Other than the name, I am not sure I ever heard any of Guy's music. I have now, taking many breaks while reading, to find You Tube videos of artists mentioned. I was unable to locate any early Buddy Guy recordings ~ was interested in seeing him perform as described in the book.

As often happens with me, I lost inte
Jun 21, 2012 Rob rated it liked it
David Ritz is a gifted co-writer of biographies, but doesn't quite hit his usual standard with this one. I think in large part Guy's personality simply doesn't lend itself to a weighty biography. As much as he's contributed musically, he's always been mercurial and inconsistent. The same remains true here, as he breezes through decades without significant analysis and too often choosing to deal with events in only a superficial manner. His early years yield the most intimate and personal detail ...more
Feb 21, 2014 Kim rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobooks, overdrive
I liked this book, a short & sweet autiobio from a seemingly sweet man & great blues guitarist. I listened to the audio book, read by Morton Willis. For anyone who loves the blues, or even wants a primer, this is a great place to start. I stopped several times & brought up recordings from the artists he described: Lightnin' Slim & Lightnin' Hopkins, Junior Wells, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker... And into his experiences with more modern artists, the Stones & Clapton, Stevie R ...more
Aug 13, 2012 Gina rated it really liked it
I'm a huge Buddy Guy fan, but not half as big of a fan as my husband. We've seen him in concert numerous times over the years and own all his albums. At the age of 74, his newest album, Living Proof, is one of his best. I only mention all that because I'm sure my love of his music influenced my rating on this book. As other reviewers have noted, this reads like one big long conversation with Buddy as he tells stories of his early childhood in Louisiana, his move to Chicago, and all the relations ...more
Clive Parsons
May 02, 2013 Clive Parsons rated it really liked it
This book is fabulous for anyone who likes Chicago Blues, Buddy Guy gives an insider's view of working with the first wave of electric blues artists like Muddy Waters & Howling Wolf & just how wild it was working in the blues clubs of that period. There are some some great stories told in a conversational style. You get a sense of just how difficult it was to survive as a blues artist even for someone as extravagantly talented as Buddy Guy. It's also great to read about his tempestuous m ...more
John Branney
Jun 29, 2013 John Branney rated it it was amazing
Very interesting book about Chicago blues and such legendary blues icons as Buddy Guy, Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Rice Miller, Howlin' Wolf, Son House, John Lee Hooker, Big Mama,Little Walter, and many others.

It was especially interesting to read about his early relationship with Muddy Waters and his stormy relationship with Junior Wells. You can tell just from the way that Junior Wells played and acted during concerts that he could be ornery and the book confirms this, at least from Mr. Guy's
Katie Christian
Jun 27, 2016 Katie Christian rated it really liked it
I loved that this book is so completely in Buddy Guy's own voice! Whether he was telling a story about picking cotton in Mississippi or bailing Junior Wells out of jail in Chicago, it was clear that these are Buddy's words (especially the expletives) and not a cleaned up, watered down version of his stories. Aside from being an incredible Blues man, he's also a brilliant storyteller. With the eras he witnessed and helped to mold in Chicago, and tours with Stevie Ray Vaughan, Muddy Waters, The Ro ...more
Edward Jennings
Jan 17, 2013 Edward Jennings rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I truly enjoyed Buddy Guy's story. His love of the blues and the blues artists he holds dear was so moving to hear about from his vantage point.

I was especially moved when he spoke about The Mud, Muddy Waters, who was a Father to him in Chicago. Buddy Guy's intimate view into the relationship they shared filled my heart with tribute and respect.

I love what Buddy Guy has accomplished with the blues and his club Legends. He is humble and reverent in his role as teacher with Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck
Oct 03, 2012 Lorraine rated it it was amazing
This book was such a pleasure to read. The strength of the book was how the information was put into context with a brevity of words all while being very interesting and easy to read. Buddy Guy's life story is a long blues song with bright spots amidst personal and financial hardship. I particularly enjoyed reading about other bluesmen in Chicago and the finances of the music business (and how the bluesmen were bled blind). My next step will be to go through our collection of blues music to list ...more
Aug 03, 2012 Brenda rated it liked it
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
Revealing a lot about his early life and how he became a blues musician, Buddy Guy discusses the strife and horse trading involved in making records and playing in blues clubs. He describes many blues artists and their lives in a very gentle manner and does not delve too much in the ugly side of the business in the fifties, sixties and seventies. He recognizes the attempts by British bands to recognize and honor the blues artists as models for rock and roll musicians. His book is many a history, ...more
Jim Cheng
Sep 08, 2014 Jim Cheng rated it really liked it
A quick read that clearly is in Buddy's voice (with David Ritz). An entertaining trip from his days as a sharecropper in Louisiana to his success as a guitar legend. But it moves almost too quickly, from his arrival in Chicago to his status as a blues icon. How did he get there? This isn't a musician's guide to Buddy's guitar prowess, but I would have liked more of a sense of what set him apart, aside from his showmanship. Kind of a quibble given how breezy and energetic this bio is. Like a simp ...more
Andre Ray
May 29, 2012 Andre Ray rated it it was amazing
loved it sow him in concert the night before then read his book in about two days. makes me want to visit his club Legends in Chicago!!! let you know that the live of bules stars was rough, and many of the old guys never got their due. liked it to that is was written in the language that buddy speaks in. saw him repeat alot of the stories that he told on his DVD included in 70's his cd set about his 70th birthday!!! if you like the blues this is a must read
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