Monday, June 1, 2015

"When I Left Home" by Buddy Guy (2012)

Did you enjoy the film “Cadillac Records”? Wonder how much of it was real? Well, if you did you will love this book written by a man who was there. No, Muddy never painted the studio as shown in the film. If anyone would have been painting it would have been Buddy. Muddy was too busy making Leonard Chess money to be painting.

Told in a natural cadence which reflects Mr. Guy’s speaking style, this book is like a bridge between the early years of rock and roll, and the later days, after the British invasion. Mr. Guy has played with everyone under the sun; from Muddy Waters and Hubert Sumlin, to more contemporary musicians like Jimi Hendrix; who simply took Buddy’s music to the next level; and Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton; not to leave out his musical friendship with Keith Richards and the Rolling Stones.

Lonnie Johnson was his original musical inspiration, but he soon fell under the spell of performers such as John Lee Hooker, Willie Dixon and Lightnin’ Hopkins. But it was his exposure to Muddy Water’s recordings which propelled him to want to become a professional musician. The record “Rolloin’ Stone” literally burned inside of him, forcing him to move to Chicago where the “blues was.”

While driving a tow truck by day, and playing by night in some of the seediest clubs in Chicago, he quickly became a fantastic guitarist and was gigging with some of the best musicians on the scene. But the money wasn’t enough to pay the bills and it would be a long, colorful struggle until the day he could quit that tow truck job and pick up his guitar full time.

Many people remember Junior Wells and Buddy Guy as musical partners; and they were. But the story of their often stormy relationship is one that will interest, entertain and inform you all at the same time.

The stories here which he tells will have you writing letters to movie producers for an encore of Cadillac Records. This is a quickly read, yet highly informative, book about the American music scene and the influence it had upon the world of music.

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