ARTHUR LEE with LOVE
Knitting Factory, Hollywood (Capacity: 500)
LOVE – ARTHUR LEE words that are synonymous.
Today marks the sixth year of the passing of Arthur Taylor Lee.
This post is a tribute to commemorate the life of a highly gifted multi-instrumentalist, awesome composer and arranger, amazing lyricist and prominent leader of the ’60s Counter Culture – whose music lifted spirits, broke ground and Rocked the Scene and whose style, attitude and perseverance triumphed gloriously in the end: Arthur Lee.
While I grew up at the perfect time to enjoy the whole Cultural Evolution in a city (paired with San Francisco) that exemplified, stood for, and left the indelible stamp of sunshine, peace, Hippies, revolution, change, music and free LOVE – I somehow missed seeing LOVE live.
This was because when LOVE, the Doors, and many others were playing clubs in Hollywood, I was fourteen or fifteen with no ride or money. And this was just not right as LOVE was easily one of my favorite groups back then based solely on their first album.
As an early teen I was still under the ‘50s upbringing mandate which was to know your place, speak when spoken to, obey adults without question and never to consider things beyond the “norm”. But the 1950s weren’t all that bad at all (ignorance is bliss); just boring, as we had no diversions other than seven channels on black and white TV and a few radio stations, all AM, so you had to be very creative – and of course we spent a lot of our youth outdoors.
Not until my first inhale did I see the hypocrisy, manipulation and stifling institutionalization of the “traditional” way of life. So when the time came to break away from those rules of passed-down ignorance; I was first in line!
Unfortunately by the time I “became aware”, had a car and a job, and could go to see them live, the classic times and band members of LOVE had come and gone and I totally missed out.
When they released their second LP Da Capo (the Castle) I was right there with them in spirit. I couldn’t get enough and played it over and over in my room. There was something ethereal and real about Lee’s lyrics and certainly the music. LOVE’s fist LP only hinted at the emergence of the singular place they carved-out for themselves. And this place was solidified with Da Capo.
Along with the Doors (also on Elektra records) LOVE created a genre all their own; here were two groups out of L.A., each with a sound unlike anyone else’s.
LOVE’s third LP, Forever Changes signified my reality; in 1967 when it was released I was sixteen and it was also the time my life Forever Changed.
As I began smoking marijuana with close friends my whole perspective of the life I was living changed and the Forever Changes LP put an indelible stamp on that time in my life.
I could write volumes about this LP as it has never failed to thrill me (goose bumps) every time I hear it. It is as if Arthur Lee was able to take the classic bits of the best music ever written from many genres and join them together as only he could into a hard rock, heartfelt, gorgeously beautiful, lyrically amazing and mysteriously unique solid LP that deservedly belongs in any true Rock or just Music Lover’s collection.
Forever Changes notoriously and continuously shows up within the Top Ten All Time LPs by critics and fans alike all over the world – and that includes me.
It has been recognized by Forensic Musicologists as the only true contender to the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s – and my vote goes to LOVE.
Sooooo, when I saw in the L.A. Weekly that LOVE with Arthur Lee were playing at the Knitting Factory next to Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood – I was on it and bought a ticket immediately!
The Knitting Factory was very small with a capacity of only five hundred so I knew I was in for a treat. I got there as early as possible to stake out my place in the exclusive standing-room-only crowd. And by exclusive I mean that there were only the true fans and that included select Rock and movie celebs; Hollywood’s Official Un-Official Mayor of Sunset Strip Rodney Bingenheimer (Google him – a truly amazing life) was among them.
Arthur performed with L.A. band Baby Lemonade as LOVE with no disappointments; they were right on and reproduced the magic of LOVE perfectly.
Everyone there was well aware of Lee’s nickel plus in prison on the totally inexcusably ridiculous Three Counts “law’” so at the point in “Live and Let Live” when he sings the prescient lyrics, “Served my time, served it well, you made my soul a cell” the crowd cheered uproariously for the fact that Arthur Lee was free and that he was here alive and the whole place just flat-out rejoiced and Arthur Lee smiled. I was twelve feet from the stage and that smile showed the warmth of the Love he felt and was receiving.
As it turned out I was extremely fortunate to see this concert and to have been in the presence of a true historic music icon and Rock Star, Arthur Lee.
Two years and three months almost to the day of this concert Arthur Taylor Lee passed on from leukemia.
It warms my Rock ‘n’ Roll heart to know that Lee enjoyed the well-deserved wildly warm response and appreciation by critics and fans alike and achieved world-class acclaim in the years prior to his death.
LOVE with Arthur Lee will always have a sacred place in my heart for all the joy I was given through the music and the lyrics and the timing in which it was delivered.
Check out my 1969 COLLAGE nav up in the header and see whose name/logo rises above all others.
I love LOVE.
To take a look at the set list is to see that we were blessed.
Intro James “Scotty” Scott, Alone Again Or, Andmoreagain, Seven And Seven Is, Old Man, The Red Telephone, You Set The Scene, Bummer in the Summer, Signed D.C., Everybody’s Gotta Live / Instant Karma, Your Mind And We Belong Together, My Flash On You, August, Rainbow In The Storm, The Daily Planet, Live and Let Live, The Good Humor Man, Orange Skies, My Little Red Book, Singing Cowboy, Between Clark and Hilldale