Howie Abrams & James Lathos – Finding Joseph I: An Oral History Of H.R. From Bad Brains (Book)
Enigmatic, legendary, genius, madman and shaman are words that have often been bandied about when trying to understand the complex life and career of Paul “H.R.” Hudson, vocalist of the seminal punk / reggae band Bad Brains.
Formed in Washington D.C. in the late 70’s Bad Brains was born out of fusion, before blazing their own path to notoriety via a truly unique mix of hardcore / punk and reggae. Coupled with an incendiary live presence that highlighted the explosive and often unpredictable antics of H.R. their place in history was cemented as not only one of the best live bands of the modern era, but also one of the most influential as well.
Published by Lesser Gods out of NYC Finding Joseph I is the first authorized biography, compiled and put together by accomplished writers Howie Abrams and James Lathos and acts as a companion piece to Lathos’ documentary film Finding Joseph I: The Story of Paul “H.R.” Hudson.
From their modest beginnings, the bands rise to prominence within the underground scene is meticulously documented and covers their various different incarnations both with and without H.R. By collecting stories and experiences from pretty much anyone who has ever been in close contact or shared a stage with H.R. the reader really gets the impression that no stone was left unturned as the main events in his life and career all unfold chronologically. It doesn’t always paint a pretty picture, as the band often had to struggle to keep their career from going off the rails more times than one can count, not to mention that the majority of these uphill battles were directly attributed to H.R.’s unpredictable and often schizophrenic behavior. In reality though, the picture that does eventually emerge from the ganja induced haze is clearly a more complex one than what appears on the surface. As the story progresses, his behavior becomes more erratic and his career choices more irrational, leading one to deduce that while it would be easier to simply label him as an eccentric, it in fact was symptomatic of a much bigger problem. Mental illness isn’t a cut and dry issue and it remains unclear how much of a role it played in H.R.’s overall condition. However, since this book was printed H.R. has undergone a surgical procedure on his brain to deal with a rare neurological condition that was causing debilitating headaches.
Only time will if H.R.is able to make a full recovery and if the surgery can be deemed a success, but all signs thus far have been good and there has been talk of new music to come. In the meantime I can’t think of a better way to celebrate both his and the bands enduring legacy than by picking up a copy of this absolutely fascinating book. Come to think of it, make sure you check out the documentary as well. Crank up some BB and don’t forget to keep the positive metal attitude and the good vibes flowing his way.
By Ryan Sparks