The Music and Mythocracy of Col. Bruce Hampton: A Basically True Biography by Jerry Grillo

May 18, 2021
Tim Newby

How do you tell the story of an Alien?  How do you tell the story of someone who was so mysterious, yet at the same time so open and honest? Someone who seemed instantly connected to everyone he knew, who seemed to know the secrets of the universe. If you are writer Jerry Grillo, you do it one word at a time, in his new book, The Music and Mythocracy of Col. Bruce Hampton: A Basically True Biography.

Bruce Hampton seemed to possess more talent and knowledge than most, but above all, he was happy to sit back and see others succeed. In his book, Grillo attemps to comprehensively tell the story of a man whose own past was shrouded in mystery, and whose life seemed as fluid as a river moving and bending to meet the landscape in which it followed.

Grillo explains in loving detail, the wild, mysterious, and often misunderstood life and times of the legendary Col. Bruce Hampton. Wading through all of the often self-imposed mystery that Bruce heaped upon himself, the author tells the story of a man who fanned the flames of creativity in others – inspiring them to be their best, creative selves.

Along the way we see Bruce recording with Frank Zappa, opening for Alice Cooper, making movies with Billy Bob Thornton, and inspiring the birth of the jamband scene, all told with a knowing wink and a nod from someone who knew Bruce intimately.

When talking about Bruce, the hardest thing to do is separate the truth from fiction, but truth is often stranger than fiction, and in the case of Hampton truth is fiction, or maybe fiction is truth, or maybe it does not really matter.  What Grillo does is strip all that away and reveal who Bruce was at his simplest, regardless of the truth or fiction or myth that surrounds him.

We often get caught up talking about the spiritual, the mysterious, and legendary sides of Bruce, but Grillo’s book answers the question of who Bruce was at the end of the day – when he got home, put his feet up, and was not busy leading us into the cosmos.

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