Tuesday, April 11, 2006

"Everybody's Gotta Live, Everyone is Gonna Die"

I am really sorry to hear that Arthur Lee has cancer and is doing poorly. The great singer, songwriter and guitarist for the fabulous 60's LA band Love is no saint, but his body of work stands up to any of his Sunset Strip contemporaries - yes, I'm talking Jim Morrison, Gene Clark, Neil Young. "Forever Changes," Love's brilliant third studio album, is up there on my all-time list, a highly eccentric and exuberant slice of sunshine-and-paranoia pyschodrama that more people should know about.

I had a very strange run-in with Lee a few years ago, when I was writing an obituary for Paul Rothchild, the producer of Love's first two albums. Lee, who had not yet been incarcerated for brandishing a gun in front of a cop, insisted that I pay him $1,500 for the privilege of interviewing him. After explaining that reporters don't usually make it a practice to pay their subjects, Lee relented. "Man, Jim Morrison stole all my moves," he told me. "He stole my women, too." He had no kind words for Rothchild, other than to say that he didn't fuck too much with Lee's music. It was probably the strangest interview I've ever conducted, but I can't say I was surprised.

After Lee did his jail time, he got his Love-redux band back together (LA band Baby Lemonade) and really threw down - sold-out shows all over Europe, a series of fine shows here in town and elsewhere in the States. But even his own band couldn't deal with Lee's erratic behavior, and they kicked him out of the new Love. Yes, THEY KICKED HIM OUT OF HIS OWN BAND.

It's too bad Lee's going out on that discordant note - but his legacy will stand. Go out and buy Forever Changes and Rhino's two-disc anthology Love Story

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