The Music and Mythocracy of Col. Bruce Hampton

A Basically True Biography

Jerry Grillo

Foreword by Chuck Leavell

Title Details

Pages: 240

Illustrations: 26 b&w images

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 04/01/2021

ISBN: 9-780-8203-5848-2

List Price: $26.95

The Music and Mythocracy of Col. Bruce Hampton

A Basically True Biography

Jerry Grillo

Foreword by Chuck Leavell

An insightful portrait of an icon of the southern jam band scene

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Col. Bruce Hampton was a charismatic musical figure who launched and continued to influence the jam band genre over his fifty-plus years performing. Part bandleader, soul singer, storyteller, conjuror, poet, preacher, comedian, philosopher, and trickster, Col. Bruce actively sought out and dealt in the weird, wild underbelly of the American South. The Music and Mythocracy of Col. Bruce Hampton is neither a true biography in the Boswellian sense nor a work of cultural studies, although it combines elements of both. Even as biographer Jerry Grillo has investigated and pursued the facts, this life history of Col. Bruce reads like a novel—one full of amazing tales of a musical life lived on and off the road.

Grillo’s interviews with Hampton and his bandmates, family, friends, and fans paint a fascinating portrait of an artist who fostered some of the best music ever played in America. Grillo aims not so much to document and demystify the self-mythologizing performer as to explain why his fans and friends loved him so dearly. Hampton’s family history, his place in Atlanta and southeastern musical history, his significant friendships and musical relationships, and the controversies over personnel in his Hampton Grease Band over the years are all discussed. What emerges is a portrait of a P. T. Barnum of the musical world, but one who included his audience and invited them through the tent door to share his inside joke, with plenty of joy to go around.

It’s such a joy to read a book when the author loves and understands the subject inside and out. Jerry Grillo completely loves and understands the magic, the talent, and the importance of Col. Bruce Hampton, Ret. You’ll disappear into Bruce’s world in this book, and you may not want to come out.

—Billy Bob Thornton

My friend Jerry Grillo got to know Bruce well, and I’m so glad he wrote this book about our friend. Bruce’s legacy is properly documented here in detail, and with respect, admiration, and love. I know you will enjoy this ride with one of the most interesting and influential talents ever to emerge from the South.

—Chuck Leavell, from the foreword

I first met Bruce Hampton (in this lifetime) as label mates at Landslide Records. Through Jerry Grillo’s writing, I was able to meet him all over again. The stories here are humorous and blessed reminders that after leaving this earth, Bruce lives on in the hearts and lives of others—so many others—close friends, and those luckily rocked by his wake. I’m so grateful for this biography—it’s brimming with ‘wake.’

—John Bell, founding member/ lead singer/ rhythm guitarist, Widespread Panic

Jerry Grillo did it! No matter what you think you may know about Col. Bruce Hampton, there are treasures here to unfold. From his birth, through his final performance, these amazing stories are all interconnected with a brilliance of intent that I’m sure Bruce would enjoy. Grillo’s love for Bruce, coupled with his immense and compassionate writing skills, captures what I never thought could be captured about a man I loved beyond words, and miss with my every breath. This book is a true gift to those of us blessed enough to have made eye contact with this amazing being, musician, artist, poet, visionary, actor, and friend. You will not be disappointed!

—Jeff Mosier, Atlanta musician

Thanks so much for telling the whole story! Great read!

—Jimmy Herring, lead guitarist for Widespread Panic and founding member of the Aquarium Rescue Unit

Grillo’s book is the first biography of one of the most outlandish, creative and influential musicians Atlanta has produced in the last 50 years.

—Bo Emerson, Atlanta Journal Constitutional


Georgia Author of the Year Awards, Georgia Writers Association