By Buddy Guy with David Ritz
Da Capo Press, $26.00, 267 pages
Most of the great musicians who established Chicago as the blues capital of the world are gone now, but the legendary Buddy Guy lives on. Many call him the greatest blues guitarist of all time, up there with the likes of Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jeff Beck.
In his biography, When I Left Home: My Story, Guy chronicles his journey from the tiny town of Lettsworth, Louisiana, where he was born to sharecroppers, to Chicago, where he landed in 1957. When he arrived, all he had was his Les Paul Gibson, a few dollars and a dream. The first year was rough; he shared a bed with a friend. While his friend slept, Guy walked the streets looking for work. When his friend was gone, Guy slept. Unable to find a job and running out of money, he was ready to return home when he got his break at the 708 Club. Soon he was playing with Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Junior Wells. His style of playing influenced the Rolling Stones, who were big Guy fans, and he jammed with Jimi Hendrix. Guy is the winner of six Grammys and Billboard magazine’s Century Award, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005.
Written in Guy’s own plain-spoken voice, this book is an intimate look at his long journey. It’s filled with personal anecdotes that celebrate the blues greats and the Chicago club scene. A must read for any blues enthusiast.
Reviewed by Diane Prokop