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Last Updated: Friday, 4 August 2006, 13:04 GMT 14:04 UK
Obituary: Arthur Lee
Close-up Arthur Lee in shades
Arthur Lee: big musical influence
Arthur Lee, with his band Love, was one of the seminal singer-songwriters of the psychedelic 1960s.

In particular, the band's Forever Changes album of 1967 became a cult classic and Rolling Stone listed it as number 40 in its best 500 albums of all time.

With his rich voice and his wide stylistic range, Lee became a big influence on later generations and helped ensure that Arthur Lee's recent world tours were a huge success.

Arthur Lee described himself as "the first so-called black hippie". He was born in Memphis but moved to Los Angeles when he was five.

He was part of the same scene that produced The Byrds, The Doors, Buffalo Springfield and The Mamas and the Papas.

Indeed, Lee's first band, Arthur Lee and the LAGs (Los Angeles Group) were modelled on Booker T and the MGs. This developed into Love which began playing Byrds-influenced folk rock.

First hit

But, as the psychedelic era got into full swing, Lee's songs became more drug-influenced and incorporated broader styles including rhythm and blues and hard rock.

One of the tracks from their first album, the Bacharach-David penned Little Red Book was a minor hit, though the authors were said not to have liked the interpretation.

The band's second album, Da Capo, was one of the first to include a track, Revelation, which, at 20 minutes, covered the whole of one side. It also brought the band a Top 40 hit, 7 and 7 Is.

Love's third album, Forever Changes, is regarded as their best. Using string and brass orchestrations alongside surrealist lyrics, the album still sells and is regarded as having influenced later '80s bands such as Monochrome Set, Teardrop Explodes and Echo and the Bunnymen.

The Forever Changes album
Forever Changes was Love's most acclaimed album
One of the band's most popular tracks, Alone Again Or, with its distinctive Latin-style trumpet break, was actually penned and sung by guitarist Bryan MacLean, a former roadie with The Byrds.

Love's original format broke up after this, though MacLean occasionally teamed up with Lee in the future. The inclusion of Jay Donnellan as lead guitarist on Four Sail (1969) improved the band technically and Arthur Lee's voice was on top form.

But Love began to lose momentum as Lee hired more musicians and pursued a solo career.

Various reunions amounted to little, and Lee's eccentricities landed him in a Californian prison for six years.

Changed line-up

During the 1990s, he had fired a pistol into the air after pointing it at a neighbour.

Although no one was injured and no property was destroyed in the incident, Lee had fallen foul of the "three strikes and you're out" policy, having been convicted of assault and drugs charges during the 1980s.

After his release, Lee assembled a new version of Love and toured Europe and North America, often playing Forever Changes in its entirety.

The tour went down well with audiences, and in 1995 Rhino Records issued a two-disc compilation set of Love's best work.

In 2002, Arthur Lee toured again under the name Love with Arthur Lee, once again to critical acclaim.

Earlier this year, Lee was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia. He underwent a bone marrow transplant using stem cells from an umbilical chord, even though doctors told him that his chances of survival were still slim.

Several benefit concerts were held in Britain and the United States to help Lee with his medical bills, including one by the former Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant, one of many performers who cited Arthur Lee as an influence.

Love singer Arthur Lee dies at 61
04 Aug 06 |  Entertainment


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