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When I Left Home: My Story
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When I Left Home: My Story

4.2 of 5 stars 4.20  ·  rating details  ·  415 ratings  ·  78 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 23, 2012 Judd rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
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
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
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, ...more
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
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
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
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.
This book made me so happy, in so many ways!
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
Five stars for Buddy Guy....
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 ...more
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
Alyce Rocco
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
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 ...more
Jim Cheng
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
Graham Tennyson
Great read. Lots of stories about the main players in the Chicago Blues scene. Buddy's humility shines through the tales he tells as he takes us from humble beginnings through to eventual (long overdue) success. The chapters about the setup at Chess and the hectic clubs on the Southside are fascinating. Buddy established himself among the greats and is a living 'Legend', a messenger from the past with a strong presence in the here and now.
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'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
I enjoyed the parts about his early life, and if you're into the blues there is some good content here. And Guy comes off as pretty humble as far as his musical abilities go. But it was sad to read about how he pretty much chose his music over his family life in the end. He's a great guitar player. Big deal. So are about a million other guys.
I love Buddy Guy, so for me this was a super fun read. I've seen him live many times and his story telling on stage is very similar to the way this book tells his story.
Rich Boyett
In the late 1960's I purchased a Buddy Guy album called "Left My Blues In San Francisco" and I've been hooked ever since. Good book and great stories.
Yeah Buddy damn right I got the blues.
John Branney
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
Edward Jennings
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
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
Clive Parsons
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
A great biography--but really for music geeks. I'm not sure the general public will ever be ready for Buddy Guy's bio or music. Reading his bio was, to me, a spiritual experience because this man is a huge part of my musical life.
Naomi Krokowski
Reading this felt like hanging out with Buddy Guy as he told his story. What a lovely, lively story! Funny and self-deprecating, appreciative of his elders and the new generation, Guy honors and is honored by the blues and the greats who've played it.
Julie Carbray
Loved his story, history, and adoration of all things blues. A must read for all Chicagoans!
So this is where Jimi got it from... I enjoyed reading about Buddy Guy and the early bluesmen.
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