Guardian intern K. Tighe remembers the great Love leader Arthur Lee:
After his struggle with acute myeloid leukemia, psych-rock pioneer and Love frontman Arthur Lee died peacefully at Methodist Hospital in Memphis, a little after 4 in the afternoon on August 3, 2006, with his wife Diane by his side. He was 61.
Lee's manager and friend, Mark Linn released the following statement:
"His death comes as a shock to me because Arthur had the uncanny ability to bounce back from everything, and leukemia was no exception. He was confident that he would be back on stage by the fall."
Arthur Taylor Porter, a Memphis native, relocated to Los Angeles in the early 1960s. Sinking his feet into the recording industry, he hired a young Jimi Hendrix to play as a studio musician on what was likely the guitarist’s first-ever studio session.
In 1965, Lee formed the band Love, first called the Grass Roots. He changed the moniker after realizing another band had beaten them to the punch. The name Love was decided on after polling an audience. Soon after its rechristening, Love became the talk of the strip, becoming the first rock band to sign to the folk label Elektra.
Though their most famous song was certainly “7 and 7 Is” from 1967’s De Capo, it was the following album, 1968’s Forever Changes, that would seal Love’s place in musical history. The latter was named no. 41 on Rolling Stone’s list of the top 500 albums of all time.
Several fundraising events were put together to help raise money for Lee’s treatment following his diagnosis. His friend Robert Plant headlined the Beacon Theatre in New York on June 23, supported by Ryan Adams, Yo La Tengo, and Flashy Python and the Body Snatchers (a side-project of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah frontperson Alec Ounsworth). A few days later Love co-founder, Johnny Echols played LA’s Whisky-a-Go-Go with Baby Lemonade in another benefit for Lee.
According to Linn, the ailing Lee was appreciative of the support. "When I visited with him recently, he was visibly moved by the stories and pictures from the NYC benefit concert,” Linn said in his statement. “He was truly grateful for the outpouring of love from friends and fans all over the world since news of his illness became public."
The infamously eccentric songwriter has been named as a key influence to dozens of musicians, notably Plant, Jim Morrison, and the recently deceased Syd Barrett.
"Arthur always lived in the moment and said what he thought when he thought it. I'll miss his phone calls, and his long voice messages, but most of all I'll miss Arthur playing Arthur's music," said Linn.
So will we.
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