28 February 2011
The Authorized Biography of Arthur Lee
336 pages, Published by Jawbone Press, 2010
Forever Changes: "Arthur Lee" and the Book of Love tells the life story of an incredible contemporary musical talent.
Fronting the first ever fully integrated rock band, "Arthur Lee" emerged from the nascent L.A. Folk-Rock scene on the Sunset Strip in 1965 with the band Love to become the Prince of the Strip. Love's first three albums were groundbreaking, combining elements of Folk-Rock, Garage-Punk, Jazz, Blues, Flamenco, and Classical music.
Through exclusive interviews with those closest to "Arthur Lee", Forever Changes paints a portrait of this intriguing, remarkable cult figure.
The book also includes "Arthur Lee"'s own voice throughout, drawn from his personal writings, letting both dedicated fans and newcomers discover this singular artist like never before.
Love at The Hollywood Bowl, Summer 1966. Other L.A. bands on the bill include The Byrds, The Leaves, Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band, The Beach Boys. Photo by Chuck Boyd
Widely hailed as a genius, "Arthur Lee" was a character every bit as colorful and unique as his music. In 1966, he was Prince of the Sunset Strip, busy with his pioneering racially-mixed band Love, and accelerating the evolution of California Folk-Rock by infusing it with Jazz and orchestral influences, a process that would climax in a timeless masterpiece, the Love album "Forever Changes".
Shaped by a Memphis childhood and a South Los Angeles youth, "Arthur Lee" always craved fame.
He would achieve his ambition with a mixture of vaulting talent and colossal chutzpah.
Drug use and a reticence to tour were his Achilles heels, and he succumbed to a dissolute lifestyle just as superstardom was beckoning.
Despite endorsements from the likes of "Jimi Hendrix" and "Eric Clapton", "Arthur Lee"'s subsequent career was erratic and haunted by the shadow of "Forever Changes", reaching a nadir with his 1996 imprisonment for a firearms offence.
Redemption followed, culminating in an astonishing post-millennial comeback that found him playing "Forever Changes" to adoring multi-generational fans around the world. This upswing was only interrupted by his untimely death, from leukemia, in 2006.
Writing with the full consent and cooperation of Arthur 's widow, "Diane Lee", author "John Einarson" has meticulously researched a biography that includes lengthy extracts from the singer's vivid, comic, and poignant memoirs, published here for the first time.
"John Einarson" has also amassed dozens of new interviews with the surviving members of Love and with many others who fell into the incomparable "Arthur Lee"'s flamboyant orbit.
Soft yet substantial cover. Two page Preface, eight page Introduction, three hundred pages of text, five page index, thirteen pages of period color and black and white photographs, mostly of "Arthur Lee" and various band members.
Each chapter has a b/w photo on the heading page,including "Arthur Lee"'s earliest group,which are interesting to see.
The author has written a number of other books on musicians/groups, such as "Gene Clark", "The Flying Burrito Brothers", and "Buffalo Springfield". He has also written for a number of music publications such as "Mojo Magazine", "Uncut Magazine", and "Goldmine Magazine".
This wonderful book covers the life of "Arthur Lee" from boyhood,through his various Love groups,and ends with "Arthur Lee"'s death from leukemia, in 2006.
The author interviewed many people, including family members, friends from throughout his life, band members and managers, and girlfriends, in order to have enough first hand, correct information to tell "Arthur Lee"'s story.
But what puts this book a notch above any others is the use of "Arthur Lee"'s memoirs, that "Arthur Lee" told a friend, who copied it (for eventual publication) all down.
Although there were gaps in the history (which were then invented and filled in by mostly, writers) "Arthur Lee" gave, "John Einarson", through in depth, extensive interviews, was able to fill in the gaps for a more complete, straightforward,honest picture of just who "Arthur Lee" was.
Johnny Echols, Brian MacLean, and Arthur Lee live in 1967
Where it was fitting,the author wove edited parts (in italics) of "Arthur Lee"'s memoirs throughout the information obtained in his research. This gives the book a real authenticity and even more depth to "Arthur Lee"'s story.
Not only is a bright light shed on "Arthur Lee"'s life, but key members of his most famous (and best) Love group also are included. Band members such as "Johnny Echols" and "Brian Maclean" are looked at and their contributions and observations give added depth to the story during this period. "Arthur Lee"'s music is looked at in detail,from his earliest groups,to the various Love groups until "Arthur Lee"'s death. Particular emphasis is on "Arthur Lee"'s mid 60's Love group,and the Folk-Rock movement in Los Angeles.
Their albums for "Elektra Records" during the Folk-Rock era are put in proper perspective with "Arthur Lee"'s thoughts, which give an inside view of both how things unfolded for the group, and give an inside look at the times.
Alban "Snoopy" Pfisterer, Tjay Cantrelli, Ken Forssi and Michael Stuart live in 1967
The author's combination of information through interviews along with "Arthur Lee"'s personal thoughts,give this book an immediate, visceral, and an almost 'you are there' feel to the events throughout "Arthur Lee"'s life. Reading information researched by the author,along with "Arthur Lee"'s remembrances put a number of rumors and 'facts' to rest. Did two band members serve jail time for robbing donut shops? Did "Arthur Lee" fry his brain with daily use of LSD? Was he part American Indian? Did "Arthur Lee" shoot himself? Did "Arthur Lee" collect pigeons and dye them, so he could watch all the colors fly through the sky? Did "Arthur Lee" take the rap for someone else shooting a weapon? Did "Arthur Lee" die in prison in a knife fight? Having listened to Love since their first (vinyl) album, and on through to his solo works, I've heard/read all these rumors over the years. Once and for all its great that someone of "John Einarson"'s intelligence, writing skill, and perseverance has shed a bright light on all these rumors (and more) and has given us this highly readable, informative, and (at times) highly entertaining book,which will be the only book needed for a deep look into the life and music of a true original- "Arthur Lee".
Love, backstage at The Hullabaloo, Los Angeles, 1967 / Photo by Earl Leaf
"John Einarson" uses excerpts from "Arthur Lee"'s memoirs as well as interviews with many of the people who knew and worked with "Arthur Lee" to craft a detailed biography. There are rich descriptions of the composition, arranging and recording process. "John Einarson" balances the musical genius and cult status of "Arthur Lee" with info about his aversity to touring, a characteristic which was "Arthur Lee"'s undoing in terms of broad recognition and fortune. Many seemingly opposing facets to "Arthur Lee"'s personality are revealed; he could be kind and generous to family and friends, volatile in personal and business relationships, and nearly impossible to work with.
The definite coup for the author is using "Arthur Lee"'s own words (from an unfinished autobiography) - this works particularly well when "Arthur Lee" talking about the session with "Jimi Hendrix" at Olympia that yielded the title track from "False Start".