Howie Abrams & James Lathos

Finding Joseph I: An Oral History of H.R. from Bad Brains

Published by Lesser Gods

May 04, 2017 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Based on James Lathos' film, Finding Joseph I: The H.R. from Bad Brains Documentary, Lathos and Abrams present a diverse and complex view of the diverse and complex character that is H.R. Told in anecdotal quote form, we hear from such punk rock, reggae, and music biz luminaries as Ian MacKaye, Fishbone's Angelo Moore and Norwood Fisher, former Maverick Records label boss Guy Oseary, Duff McKagan, producer Ron St. Germain, Living Colour's Vernon Reid and Corey Glover, H.R.'s brother/Bad Brains drummer Earl Hudson, H.R.'s wife Lori, and of course Paul D. Hudson, better known as H.R. himself. And many more too who have helped or been helped by H.R. along his path. The other members of Bad Brains - guitarist Dr. Know and bassist Darryl Jenifer - are conspicuous by their absence and it does feel like a good part of the story is missing without their input. But all who do contribute are in agreement that H.R. is a tour de force, an astounding performer and frontman holding his own amongst the best of all-time. The book's photos reinforce this notion, capturing some of his onstage intensity, most notably the two-page spread of him swan-diving high above the crowd. But throughout the book there is an air of sadness that both H.R. and the Brains never received the recognition that was rightfully theirs. And a lot of this is laid at H.R.'s feet. Since the mid-90s we have been hearing about H.R.'s 'mental problems' and the book, often painfully, shows how long it took to even get a workable diagnosis of what was wrong. Many-angled details are filled in concerning the confusion of his 'lost' years, spent homeless or wandering on both coasts, very occasionally working with different bands, before meeting his wife Lori. It is her love and care that begins the healing process, bringing him back towards the self that positively affected so many fans across the world. And through it all H.R. remains sure in the Rastafarian faith that guides him, that everything was and is as it is meant to be, and all is for the best. (

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