Jimi Hendrix, like The Beatles, the Rolling Stones and The Who, has been prodded, poked, dissected and examined by every writer with a pencil sharpener. But here Leon Hendrix, the guitarist's younger brother, presents a unique and inside look at one of the most profoundly influential musicians who ever lived.
Leon is in a six-by-six cell at Washington's Monroe Reformatory when he hears about his brother's death. He writes,
"Later in the day, I rose from the bed and walked forward to the bars of my cell. Pressing my face against the grid of cold steel, I again looked across at the arched windows high up on the opposite concrete wall. By then, it was dusk and the light outside was fading. As the final rays of daylight passed over the glass of the last window, I couldn't take my eyes off the gradually darkening sky. I stood numb and empty inside, wondering where I was going to find the strength to endure the pain on my own. Before long the sun was gone."
Thus begins Leon's sad tale about his life with the most famous guitar player in the world. He talks about first hearing Are You Experienced?
Jimi's first album and then analyzing what the songs meant. Jimi confided in his baby brother about how he wanted to start his own record label after his deal with Warner Bros. Records ended and how he wanted Leon to come work with him. Truly unique views that only a brother might have.
Along the way, Leon talks about his own life in the military (not successful), a bad car crash that left him addicted to opiates, and ultimately ending up in prison. It was there, in military prison, when he heard about his brother's passing.
It is a fascinating if melancholy tale. Jimi's family was highly dysfunctional, and he was made to pay a lot of dues before finally finding acclaim. In fact, he had to move to England to achieve success because America never took notice. There is much here you probably have never heard about Buster, the family's nickname for Jimi, and
his brother's remembrance is worth picking up.