Atlanta music legend Bruce Hampton died on stage at a concert honoring his 70th birthday at the Fox Theatre. The celebration was a “who’s who” of all-star musicians influenced by Hampton including John Popper, Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi. Hampton’s larger-than-life persona was magnetic, and his habit of performing parlor tricks was endearing.
Journalist and author Jerry Grillo befriended Hampton in 2007 and has written a biography of the musician. Grillo joined “City Lights” to talk with Lois Reitzes about the book, The Music and Mythocracy of Col. Bruce Hampton, and the effect his band The Hampton Grease Band had on other artists.
“His love of music grew as he attracted more musicians to him,” Grillo said. “He became … more of a band leader, if you will, starting bands and then breaking them up with equal frequency. But he would start these bands with some of the best musicians that people had not heard of. He would go to clubs, find people, meet people, he did a lot of networking. And then he would assemble these line-ups, and they would just blow the tops off of the places that they would play.”
Grillo continued, “It eventually became this jam band scene … They were known for their great improvisation. And I think that had an effect on a lot of the other artists who watched him and his bands.”
Jerry Grillo will be in a virtual conversation with comedian Doug Monroe and Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Bo Emerson on June 7 with the Georgia Center for the Book.