Redbone: The True Story of a Native American Rock Band

IDW. Sept. 2020. 160p. pap. $19.99. ISBN 9781684057146.
Gr 6 Up–Illustrated by floating, unframed vignettes drawn in a realistic style in pen and ink with russet overtones, this conversational graphic memoir sheds light on an undeservedly obscure nook of rock and roll history. Now remembered chiefly for the hit single “Come and Get Your Love,” the band that eventually dubbed itself Redbone was composed of brothers Pat and Lolly Vegas, plus a changing cast of musicians and managers. The authors draw on personal interviews as well as published sources to let Pat informally retrace the band’s relatively meteoric rise and fall over lunch with his grown children—from Redbone’s early Sixties days as a duo on L.A.’s Sunset Strip through various configurations until internal tensions derailed the group’s career in the late 1970s. Attempts to revive Redbone over subsequent years have met with at best fitful success, and several of the original members have died. In its heyday, though, the band fed chords to the Doors, jammed with Jimi Hendrix, and released a string of increasingly socially responsible tracks. While the narrator doesn’t specify his own mixed tribal ancestry, he does mention that of others (Hendrix, for instance, was part Cherokee) and pauses to lay out the ethnocide of Indian boarding schools, both the original and the 1973 tragedies at Wounded Knee, and the growth of the American Indian Movement. Readers will be left with a clear sense of the groundbreaking band’s achievements and spirit.
VERDICT Compelling reading for fans of roots rock and Native American history in middle school and up.

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