A Brother's Story
Leon Hendrix & Adam Mitchell
This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.
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.
From Publishers Weekly
© Publishers Weekly
A Brother's Story
Finally, a book written about Jimi from a family perspective:
We have read books about him from his various friends and acquaintances, now we have the story from his own brother's memories..it is well written, and gives more insight into what Jimi was going thru as an artist, and as a man.
I found Leon's story to be gripping and factual from Jimi's only blood brother. I've seen him and spoke with him many times in Seattle and abroad on tour with his band. Just seeing him at Jimi's memorial I feel his pain. I hope everyone buys the book those true lovers of Jimi and although I'm to young to know Jimi I'm a woman who loves Leon "keeper of the Flame".
Actually, it's about time I read it, since it's been around for over a year. I've read them (Hendrix bios) all; from Chris Welch's early tabloid "Hendrix" to Curtis Knight's "Jimi" to "Electric Gypsy" to Monika Dannemann, etc. Some were very encyclopedic and studious and often wrong. Some presumed to even quote Jimi's thoughts as he drove down Laurel Canyon on a sunny California day. Some were written by psychopaths, some by folks with an agenda, and some were just outright BS. I took the books written by former bandmates Noel Redding, Mitch and Billy Cox at face value, and even then I applied a filter. Noel was bitter about money, Mitch was cashng in and didn't really say much, and Billy was in the employ of the Hendrix Estate.
The two biographies that had the most ring of truth to me were the ones by Ms Kathy Etchingham. Neither were explicitly *about* Jimi Hendrix, per se, and never purported to be. Leon subtitled it "A Brother's Story". Just as Ms Etchingham's story contained a wealth of information about Jimi's early days in London soon after achieving fame, Leon Hendrix' book is invaluable if only for the vivid exploration into Jimi's family life in a way that no one else could tell it. But there's far more than that. In fact, we get the story from both sides of the Atlantic. For example, "Buster" calls his Dad from London to tell him of his impending stardom with the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Linda says the father complained about having received a collect call from London, throwing cold water on Jimi's success. Leon was present on the other end, in Seattle, and describes in detail the father's rant.
As it turns out, not one of the Hendrix males were cut out for military service. Al spent time in the brig, Jimi was kicked out for being a weirdo (although it was a contrivance that Leon didn't address, only saying that Jimi received a 'medical discharge'), and like his older brother years before, Leon had to choose between a prison sentence or military service. He chose military service, was kicked out for being a thug and went to jail anyway. He was in prison on Friday, September 18, 1970 as word spread that his brother was no longer among us.
I had the pleasure of a chance meeting Jimi in New York just about two months before he was found dead in London. Electric Lady Studios was due to open in the Village and the grand opening party would not occur until the following month. When I approached him in front of his building, there were people around who seemed very unhappy that Jimi even bothered to give me the proper time of day. Leon's book confirmed my suspicions about that day. We talked for less than a minute, but folks were looking very nervous. Not the girls, though.
They treated Jimi's family that same way, as it turns out. Not only Mike Jeffrey, who treated everyone as though they were trash, but also Gerry Stickells, the road manager.
The stories of the abject poverty and hopelessness within the Hendrix family have never been as well drawn as in Leon's book. They played cat-and-mouse games with what we now know as Child Protective Services. Even though they had no food, no lights, no heat, no clothes and all shared a bed with their Dad, the idea that they'd be farmed out to foster homes where they could have had all of those things, plus a bedroom, was untenable. Leon simply could not abide being separated from his big brother, Buster.
Leon provides details about the death and funeral of their mother, Lucille, that could not be told any other way by anyone else. Suffice to say, the late Al Hendrix was no saint.
Such "experiences" informed Jimi's music, as does an alleged UFO encounter, as does being parceled off, together and apart, from house to home to foster home to stave off the ever-lurking welfare social workers.
But I'm giving too much away. Leon writes in such a conversational style that you're halfway through the book before you know it. He drops an occasional bomb, but he doesn't dwell on it. He just keeps it moving. If you want to know the serial number of the can of Ronson lighter fluid that Jimi used to fuel his 'guitar sacrifice' at Monterey, I'm sure it's in a book somewhere. If you want to know Jimi just a little better, you may like this book.