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Don't Shoot! I'm the Guitar Man Paperback – September 7, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Trade; Reprint edition (September 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425240053
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425240052
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (160 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #570,192 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Buzzy Martin grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, dreaming of becoming a rock star. He taught himself how to play the guitar and piano and in 1979 moved to northern California to follow his dream. After years of playing music, Buzzy met his second true calling in the form of a few group-home kids who came out to one of his open mic events in 1993. At the time, he didn't even know what a group home was, but soon after that he was introduced to the world of at-risk kids. A friend passed along Buzzy's name for a music class for at-risk youth, and the rest is history.

After years of working in juvenile halls, teaching music and spreading his message of "Education not Incarceration," word spread that the classes were changing kids' lives and Buzzy was asked to teach a twelve-week music program at San Quentin State Prison. Three years and five months later, Buzzy finished his final class at the "Q."

DON'T SHOOT! I'M THE GUITAR MAN is the raw and moving account of Buzzy's time at San Quentin State Prison where he experienced everything from fear for his own safety to the human connection created by sharing in the transcendent power of music. Buzzy not only gave the inmates at the "Q" something positive to look forward to, he also learned from the inmates the hard truth about life in prison, which he was then able to relate to his juvenile hall students.

Today, after sixteen years of volunteering, Buzzy Martin is still dedicated to the largely overlooked cause of at-risk kids. His story has and will continue to inspire people to find the good in the people they meet, and to believe in the power of music to change lives.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Buzzy's book makes you take a step back and really understand how life can be.
Tamme Koehn
While Buzzy's writing style is straightforward and very easy to read, it is nevertheless highly colorful and extremely compelling.
Gail Worley
This book tells the story of Buzzy teaching inmates about music and guitars at San Quentin State Prison.
Jennifer L. Horst

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Jane Fossgreen on July 19, 2008
Format: Paperback
Mr. Martins account of his experience at San Quentin lets the reader see, smell and feel the painful living nightmare of the prisoners' existence. Young gang bangers that aspire to set their futures in San Quentin will learn from this book that there is no honor or glory to be had: only oppression and degradation. Mr. Martins perspective is intelligent, yet emotional, and lets the reader into a world few ever imagine. This is a MUST READ!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By L. Kogeler on July 18, 2008
Format: Paperback
Martin's insight into the life of inmates at San Quentin as seen through the eyes of a music teacher will keep you up at night. The language is raw, but the message is clear. This is a wake-up call and a must-read for all teenagers, especially those who may glorify the life of a gang.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By J. Weaver on July 18, 2008
Format: Paperback
Don't Shoot! I'm the Guitar Man is an interesting look at life inside San Quentin State Prison by author Buzzy Martin, who spent many, many hours inside the walls of the institution, trying to change lives through music. This work is honest and may help educate the reader regarding the reality of the danger and dispair inside San Quentin. This book is an "easy read" containing important insights.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By jimboturbo on October 14, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is a book that will appeal to everyone - anyone that's been touched by music, anyone that's been involved with the system, anyone that has in interest in societal concerns, and anyone who simply enjoys reading a book that you can't put down. Buzzy chronicles his experiences teaching music to inmates of San Quentin prison, and it's as harrowing as you can imagine - maybe more so. In blunt, plainspoken prose, he offers an outsider's insight into the violent madness of prison culture, and the pressures that drive offenders to find comfort in it. There is no escaping the darkness of the details, but he also illuminates the power of music to transcend even the most horrific of environments. Some of the most moving moments occur as the inmates, for a moment, can regain a semblance of humanity by playing guitar and singing for an hour or two. This account is driven, tense, and emotional. He offers no apologies for the inmates or their actions, but does shine a light on the need to seriously re-think our current penal system, and the road to it. And underscoring it all is the power of music to lift, move, humanize, and heal. As levees fail and the arts are increasingly removed from our public school systems, administrators (and voting taxpayers) would do well to read Don't Shoot! I'm the Guitar Man and consider the long-range impact of their decisions.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 27, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My copy of "Don't Shoot! I'm The Guitar Man", arrived yesterday, I just finished the last page about twenty minutes ago. I can't wait for the movie. It touched my heart reading how Buzzy (the author), brought some hope and self esteem to the lost souls of San Quentin. Through the healing power of music, Buzzy also reaches out to at risk youth, to show them a better to live and express themselves. Buzzy Martin is an American hero, and I hope everyone will read his book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By subammas on September 10, 2011
Format: Paperback
Having worked in the legal system on various levels for over 18 years, including criminal defense and related juvenile matters, many books trying to capture what Buzzy has done have come and gone. Having been a musician at various levels for even longer, this book, while it should be required reading for juveniles (especailly at-risk juveniles) and juvenile system workers alike, this book is for EVERYONE. As Buzzy is recounting his 3 1/2 stint teaching music to the incarcerated at the famed San Quentin Prison, his style is almost conversational, as if you're sitting next to him in his truck during the jaunts to and from 'the Q'. While the details of the sounds, images and smells of San Quentin in this book are vivid, they are not overhyped and they cut straight to the point. Of the many points a reader should take home is that of many of our juveniles thinking prison is a 'rite of passage', where some cannot wait to become a part. Harrowing, at the very least...

This book is also another great example of the powers of music at its finest. It would appear that it DOES sooth the savage beast...

As I've already said, this book should be required reading for those in the juvenile system and the legal system generally. Many work in it or represent people possibly doomed to the prison system without really knowing what might lie ahead for their clients. This is quite the primer. (I'd also recommend searching YouTube for Buzzy's speeches to lawyers and judges as well.)

I am somewhat troubled by some of the commentary of Buzzy as a 'failed' or 'wannabe' musician; notwithstanding the fact that the man can play, if he's touching the lives of juveniles in a positive manner, he has succeeded far more than most, if not all, that have ever strapped on a guitar and made a joyful noise...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By LoriTolocko on August 29, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
I just finished reading your book "Don't Shoot I'm the Guitar Man". Very insperational. I think every teenager or adolescent should read your book. It's short and down to the point. We were required to read your book per our Sargeant for an upcoming class that I am taking "CORE" Corrections Officers Recruitment Enforcement , in other words Corrections Academy. I wish and would like the other Officers to know how serious our jobs are. We watch the sick inmates that come to hospitals here in San Diego. I wish the Officers would get a grip on how serious watching these inmates really is........I had an older and wiser friend of mine about 10 years ago say something to me that has forever been encrusted in my soul she said. "anyone who can play an instrument is a gift from god". I do believe it, not everyone can play an instrument. Thank God, I got my daughter into playing the flute,my son.......no go. Again, you have touched my soul by your book.....it really takes a lot of guts to have been at the "Q" for over three years... God Bless you in all of your endevores........Lori
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