With not a wasted word, 'Before I Left Home' tells the amazing story of Buddy Guy.

The first chapter follows Buddy’s youthful beginnings as a sharecropper’s son in rural Lettsworth, Louisiana. Cut off from the world at large, young Buddy heard about events like Pearl Harbor, but concluded, “The war was in another world. Our world was farming.” His strong family ties enabled him to rise above poverty, foul weather and graveyards haunted by ghosts. Besides having the support of loving parents, Sam and Isabelle Guy, Buddy had four siblings “who always had your back.”

Family friend Coot introduced Buddy to live music when he played Lonnie Johnson’s ‘Tomorrow Night’ on his two-string at Christmas. Buddy, desperate to make his own instrument, untangled the family screen, meant to keep out deadly “skeeters.”

It was not until the family got an electric line that Buddy would marvel at the used phonograph that “changed everything.” He sat mesmerised by 'Boogie Chillen' in 1949.

And when he finally encountered the electric music of local hero Lightin’ Slim, there was no turning back. Eventually, Buddy found out about Muddy Waters and Little Walter and made the brave exodus to Chicago.

Once there, Buddy fields gritty Chicago nightclubs and makes friends with men so desperate for cash they sell blood to the local hospital for a pint of gin. He works with Leonard Chess and with the man he would grow to admire so greatly, Muddy Waters.

Exceptionally grounded, Buddy keeps a level head despite the up and down nature of the local music scene. He marries, raises a family and, after a few tries, becomes a successful club owner.

Buddy’s voice remains frank and philosophical from beginning to end. If there are problems, he acknowledges them but somehow washes them away. But what he doesn’t wash away is his respect for his early mentors. For example, although he promised his mother he would return from Chicago with a polka-dotted limo, and he never did, he remembers her every time he plays his signature polka dot guitar.

From his country child roots to his glorious career as the charismatic showman who magically appears out of nowhere to excite his fans, Buddy Guy’s story is inspiring.

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