Paul “HR” Hudson was born in Liverpool, England, in 1956, to a Jamaican mother and American father who moved him to the States when he was a toddler. As his father was in the Air Force, his family moved around a lot, finally settling just outside of Washington, DC. In addition to his love for music, HR was an athlete from an early age and excelled in swimming and pole vaulting.
HR is best known as the front man for the iconic punk band Bad Brains. HR and his brother, Earl, together with friends Gary “Dr. Know” Miller and Darryl Jenifer, began as Mind Power, a jazz fusion band, then formed Bad Brains in 1979. With unprecedented speed and precision, Bad Brains took the Washington, DC music scene by storm and quickly became the most influential band in American punk history. They created music that was about closing the racial divide and maintaining a positive mental attitude (PMA). This concept of PMA continues to inspire fans to this day.
Early in his career, HR became interested in reggae and the Rastafarian movement. These pursuits transformed him and he began to focus more on the spiritual nature of reggae than the fast lifestyle of the punk scene. Together with Al “Judah” Walker, he formed the short-lived group called Zion Train. He then moved on and formed Human Rights with his brother in 1984.
HR formed a friendship with his mentor, musician Ras Michael, a high priest of the Rastafarian movement. Ras Michael baptised him in the late 1980’s and named him Ras Hailu Gabriel Joseph I. Many people in his life began calling him “Joseph” or “Joe” at this time, and he continued to inspire those around him with his message of love and righteousness.
Having spent much of his adulthood living with a mental disorder, HR’s career has been riddled with periods of highs and lows. Controversy seems to follow him. Another health issue surfaced–debilitating headaches–but HR maintained “that PMA” and found relief through brain surgery! To learn more, please see the documentary film Finding Joseph I and its companion book Finding Joseph I: An Oral History of H.R. From Bad Brains, which was released in December 2016.
HR has adult children and has been married since 2012.