A Brother's Story
St. Martin's Griffin, Paperback, 9781250031433, 304pp.
Publication Date: August 13, 2013
More than forty years after his death, Jimi Hendrix-recently named the greatest guitarist of all time by "Rolling Stone" magazine-continues to inspire fans of rock music. Many have written about Hendrix's life and music, but "Jimi Hendrix: A Brother's Story" provides a revealing and unprecedented look at this visionary icon: an intimate biography written by Jimi's younger brother, Leon.
Leon Hendrix takes us back to the days before Jimi's amazing rise to fame in the 1960s, beginning with their tough childhood in Seattle, when their fascination with science fiction and UFOs helped them escape a difficult family life. (Jimi insisted his family call him "Buster," after "Flash Gordon" actor Buster Crabbe.) The author reveals Jimi's early fascination with sound, from his experiments with plucking wires attached to bedposts to the time when he got in trouble for taking apart the family radio ("I was looking for the music," he explained) to Jimi's purchasing his first guitar-a Sears, Roebuck and Co. acoustic, from a neighbor.
Leon recounts Jimi's early days performing on the "Chitlin' Circuit," when Jimi would call from the road to play early versions of tracks for the classic album "Are You Experienced," and illuminates the biographical roots of Jimi's most well-known rock & roll songs. Readers learn about the heady days of sex and drugs that came with Jimi's skyrocketing fame in the sixties and how Leon felt Jimi's management isolated him from the rest of the family. The author speaks of his own heartbreak, learning of his brother's sudden death while incarcerated in Washington State's Monroe Reformatory.
Commemorating what would have been Jimi's seventieth birthday, Leon Hendrix's poignant and captivating account sheds new light on a music legend.
Adam W. M. Mitchell is a Consultant Radiologist at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, London, and Honorary Senior Lecturer at Imperial College London, UK.
“Memoirs about rock stars written by family members, friends, ex-wives and quickie backstage assignations are a wildly divergent lot that alternately take the narrative tracks of score-settling, axe-grinding, deification or exploitation. Fortunately, this effort by Jimi Hendrix's younger brother is a mostly sweet remembrance of the rock legend, heavy on tales of their youthful adventures (and misadventures) as Leon and the brother everyone called "Buster" (after Flash Gordon serial actor Buster Crabbe and Jimi's love of science fiction) grew up under less than ideal circumstances….While other Hendrix books have concentrated on his roles as musical genius, troubled soul and visionary dead far too soon, this one celebrates the sweet, shy, protective older brother -- who just happened to wear crazy clothes and set his guitar on fire.”
"Although several books have been written about the artist, this one has a different perspective since it is Jimi’s life as seen through the eyes of his younger brother, Leon. This highly readable book reveals the origin and meaning of many of the classic Hendrix tunes, which Jimi often played for his brother over the phone while he composed and was on the road. The complicated family dynamic, the culture of sex and drugs that came with Jimi’s fame is also chronicled. This biography is being released just months before what would have been Jimi’s 70th birthday."
“While the rest of the world knew the great guitarist as Jimi, Leon Hendrix knew him as ‘Buster,’ his big brother and protector. While Leon clearly idolized his older brother, he tells a balanced and honest story of his parents’ broken marriage and substance abuse, and the peripatetic life he and Jimi led with their father. With the help of Mitchell (co-author of Street Player), Leon, in an informal yet intimate tone, chronicles his own life as much as his brother’s, presenting the divergent paths they took: Jimi channeling his energies into making music while Leon lived a hustler’s life filled with drugs and crime. Mixed in with the Hendrix family melodrama are some great vignettes (Jimi trying to make music with a one-string ukulele or wires and rubber bands)—that truly give a glimpse of the real Jimi behind the on-stage antics and flamboyant clothing. Leon also has some unique insights into Jimi’s music, especially when he opines on the inspiration for some of his brother’s powerful lyrics (he felt “Machine Gun” betrayed Jimi’s “fear and paranoia”).”
“His little brother Leon gives us ‘Buster,’ the Jimi Hendrix only his family knew. Keeping it real all the way, Leon Hendrix gives us an entirely new, life-size portrait of Jimi."
—Joel Selvin, author of the classic Summer of Love and co-author of Sammy Hagar’s New York Times #1 bestseller Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock