Jimi Hendrix: A Brother's Story

Rock & Roll books, bound but ungagged

The Ties That Bind

Jimi Hendrix: A Brother's Story

by Leon Hendrix, with Adam Mitchell
Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press, 288 pp., $25.99

On the day his brother died, Leon Hendrix was locked up on theft charges. For a street hustler who grew up in and out of foster care, excelled at mid-level cat burglary, and enjoyed tangential fame as a sibling of the era's most significant guitarist, it was a low point in a lifetime filled with pain and frustration. A Brother's Story holds just that, an incomparably personal account of Jimi (then Buster) Hendrix's youth. Brimming with childhood alien encounters, rose-colored memories of brotherly heroism, and familial bonds forged by desperate situations, Leon also provides insight into Jimi's musical genesis: the sonic experimentation of wire stretched across a bed frame, the Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters records forging early tastes, and the salvaged one-string ukulele that changed everything. As Leon becomes a hanger-on in Jimi's superstar circus and, later, when the book's focus devolves into the legal battles and family rifts that followed the latter's death, A Brother's Story wanes. Throughout all of it, though, you can hear Jimi's music. Leon's regard for the life force behind his brother's cosmic playing and his understanding of what the lyrics meant comes across as enlightened, while having also saved his own life.

READ MORE
More Jimi Hendrix
"Unseen Hendrix"
Robert Hewgley's dramatic images of Jimi Hendrix at a 1969 concert capture a musician in the throes of creation

Robert Faires, Dec. 5, 2014

Rock & Roll DVDs
Jimi Hendrix
Hear My Train A Comin' (Record Review)

Michael Toland, Dec. 13, 2013

More Music Reviews
Sheet Music
On Bowie
Quickie Bowie bio and slim fanboy volume shades somewhat heroic

Bryan Rolli, Aug. 12, 2016

My Little Red Book
Under the Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk
Punk rock as L.A. lit no less than Charles Bukowski and Raymond Chandler

Tim Stegall, June 17, 2016

More by Kevin Curtin
Playback: David Yow Meets the Jazzus Lizard
Playback: David Yow Meets the Jazzus Lizard
David Yow fronts the Jazzus Lizard, Cherubs knock off 22 years of rust, Preston Hubbard dies, and Blind Lemon Jefferson gets kicked off Texas license plates

Aug. 26, 2016

Record Review: Quin Galavis
Record Review: Quin Galavis
My Life in Steel and Concrete (Super Secret)

Aug. 26, 2016

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

gift guide 2012, Jimi Hendrix

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)