cover image When I Left Home: My Story

When I Left Home: My Story

Buddy Guy, with David Ritz. Da Capo, $26 (288p) ISBN 978-0-306-81957-5

On September 25, 1957, Buddy Guy climbed on a train in Hammond, La., with a few clothes in his suitcase, a reel-to-reel tape of a song he had cut, and his Les Paul Gibson guitar, and headed North. As mesmerizing a storyteller as a guitarist, Guy, writing with Ritz, regales readers with tales of growing up picking cotton in rural Alabama, of seeing his first guitar and standing transfixed in front of Lightning Slim for several hours just memorizing the movements of Slim’s hands, of his father’s friend buying his first guitar for him, and of his endless efforts to play the blues as he had heard and seen Slim and others play. In Chicago, Guy discovers the harsh realities of urban living, but it’s not long before his guitar slinging earns him respect and a place to play on a regular basis, as Muddy Waters and B.B. King recognize Guy’s transcendent talent. He shares stories of meeting Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, and he recalls that some of the first white fans to come to Chicago’s South Side were musicians like Mike Bloomfield and Paul Butterfield, who along with Eric Clapton, John Mayall, and the Stones often invited Guy and other black blues musicians to open for them, pointing out to the audiences that these guys were the real musicians. Guy’s memoir is a joyous celebration of the blues, one of our greatest musical treasures. Agent: Vigliano Associates. (June)