Buddy Guy, When I Left Home

The 75-year-old blues legend has decided it was time to recap his lengthy trip from helping his parent’s toil on others farms in Lettsworth, Louisiana, to learning blues guitar on the job in Chicago.     David Ritz lends his biographical talents here, leaving Buddy language and stories untouched.  

Buddy takes you on his journey from his first two-string acoustic guitar (a six string that had only two strings), graduating to a Harmony, then Les Paul (which weren’t popular back then), and finally his first coveted sunburst Strat.   His first introduction to adding showmanship to guitar playing (and Strat envy) was seeing Guitar Slim at The Masonic Temple in Baton Rouge.   With flaming red suit, hair, shoes, and a possibly 300’ guitar cable, Slim would start “Single pickin’ his Strat with two fingers” prancing from somewhere on the street into the clubs.   Buddy was so impressed that he bought himself a 100’ guitar cable the first chance he got.  

Buddy tells of his run-ins and varying relationships (some not too cordial) with the blues guitar slingers and hot bluesmen of the day, such as Willie Dixon (who like to claim writing credit on just about anything), Leonard Chess (Chess Records), Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Hubert Sumlin, Little Walter, and his lifelong admiration and friendship with the likes of “The Mud” Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Junior Wells, The Stones, and Eric Clapton.  

Buddy is a blues legend, and finds some of his greatest pleasures are spending time with his kids, picking out farm fresh food to cook up at home, and of course, beating up the fretboard of his polka dot Strat.   He is the proud owner, and can often be found sitting at the bar, in his Chicago blues club Legends.   The book is a good read, and very informative on the early blues progression from the early days to where it is today.  

By R.M. Engelman

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