Saturday, August 05, 2006


"For every happy hello there will be goodbye"

(Reposted from The A.V. Club blog:)

In expected sad news, Love frontman Arthur Lee has died of leukemia. Lee was 61 and died in Memphis. Musically Lee didn't fit easily into a single category. With Love he helped pioneer psychedelic rock in the mid-'60s, but the first Love track to attract much attention was a cover of a Bacharach and David composition called "My LIttle Red Book." The name fit with the spirit of the era, but Love had a harder edge to it that would be an influence on the metal acts of the '70s, particularly Led Zeppelin. The band's best known album, 1967's Forever Changes took the innovations of Pet Sounds and Sgt. Pepper and melded them to a spirit that was alternately utopian and apocalyptic. It's the sound of a world that doesn't know if it's recreating itself or blowing itself up.

From there Love sputtered out and Lee wrestled with some personal demons in virtual anonymity and later in prison. Lee's last years were ones of increased recognition, however, if not increased happiness. Forever Changes began to turn up regularly on all-time best-of lists and Wes Anderson incorporated Love's music into his debut feature Bottle Rocket, bringing in a new generation of fans. Lee also toured with a new Love line-up over the past few years.

Lee's influence stretches from Zeppelin to Robyn Hitchcock to Calexico and outward from there. He was and remains an elusive figure, a hippie-garbed black man mixing with the Sunset Strip scene while chasing a vision more complicated than flowers in the hair, an artist who shone brightly and then faded quickly. But the light has kept its heat.

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