When my mother and father were divorced we lived in Smyrna, Georgia. The courts decided my mother was unfit and I was sentenced to live with the lesser of the two “unfits” in a house that had been converted into a dog kennel and then back into a business. My little brother’s room and my room had that fake wood paneling and no window. I took a Greyhound bus to football practice, Nash Junior High, and had a ticket booklet that I used. Not an ideal time for the ole Johnster. Nash was hard on me. Everyone had grown from sixth grade and my eyes were deteriorating daily to near blindness and my glasses reflected the change…becoming “Coke bottle like.”
My brother Rushton had a job at Lockheed putting rivets in planes. He got the job by having the guy next to him do the “rivets hand to eye coordination test” for him. He made good money. He bought a 67 Camaro that had an 8 track in it and then as his first 8 track bought Sgt. Peppers and The White Album and then came out to the “Kennel” to let me hear it. Amazing. Absolutely amazing to be sitting in that car off the highway that ran between Smyrna and Atlanta and hearing an entire Beatle album.
In my room I had three albums, The Who Sellout, Jemi Hendrix-Axis Bold as Love, and The Jimi Hendrix Experience. I listened to them all over and over again. Somehow in the divorce I was separated from all the Beatle albums although I knew them all by heart…every little sound and inflection.
So Rushton comes out to the Kennel one day and says he has tickets to a Jimi Hendrix concert at the Atlanta Municipal Auditorium and did I want to go with him and his girlfriend Edna.
So we go. I know every song which were mostly off The Experience Album…you know Fire, Purple Haze and of course Hey Joe.
Now you have to picture me, small, bespectacled, small looking young nerd at the epitome of a concert of cool. I sang out loud all the songs and danced around in a concert that ended with Jimi using his guitar to tear up all the amplifiers and in the process destroying the guitar. Throughout the concert people sitting around me looked at me with the look of “what in the hell are you doing here” as if my being there and knowing all the songs diminished their experience.
Anyway the idea of my older brother thinking to take a seventh grader with him to see a legend makes to me a most beautiful statement of who he was and how he loved me. At a time in my life when I was forced to live with a parent I did not want to live with, separated from the mother I wanted to be with, his kindness and “being aware” how important interaction with him at that time helped me get through that difficult time and actually is something I harken back to often.
How many people do you know who saw Hendrix live? Point made. Thanks Rushton for that and for so much more you have done for me throughout my life.