Few artists have had an impact on music like Arthur Lee. Best known as the frontman of the band Love, his art has aged well even 50 years after his peak. This beloved musician passed away on August 3, 2006. If you’ve ever wondered about the story of Arthur Lee, this article will tell you everything you need to know.
Early life and influences
Born in 1945 in America’s South, Arthur was a product of one of the most musical of all cities, Memphis. His musical talents started to appear during his time at school. Although he was never formally taught composition, he seemed to be a musical natural from the time he first picked up an accordion. For most of his career, the organ would be his instrument of choice. He also played the guitar, drums, and keyboard and was a vocalist as well.
The man and the music
Arthur started writing in the 1960s, and his first album is from that era. This was the release titled The Ninth Wave with his band called The LAGs. At the time, he was a hustler in Los Angeles, searching for his chance to become a star. The folk rock group he was a part of, the Grass Roots, changed their name to Love in 1965. This was the start of a period that would impact Lee and the wider music world exponentially. Arthur would find fame with his band Love, which started off playing at a number of clubs around Hollywood. The band’s music defied categorization, mixing pop, rock, folk rock and R&B.
The original group eventually released a total of three albums. Of these, Forever Changes is called one of the “most perfect” albums of the 1960s. Some would even go so far as to say it’s one of the best of all time. While it wasn’t a major hit commercially at the time, its cult status grew steadily after its release. In 1972 Lee struck out on his own and tried for a solo career. After this he reformed his band, still using the name Love. However, this would be the third reincarnation of the band with totally different members. Attempts to reform the group with its original members proved futile.
Impact on music beyond his death
By 2005 Arthur could no longer perform due to becoming ill. The next year, he was diagnosed with leukemia and in August was taken by the illness. However, his music continues to live on in the hearts of his fans and admirers. Two years after his death the Forever Changes album gained a spot in the Grammy Hall of Fame.
His last interviews have also been compiled in the documentary Love Story, made in 2006 just before his passing. A number of sites dedicated to him have also sprung up, including one run by his wife. For a great review of his life, the biography “Forever Changes Arthur Lee and the Book of Love” is a must-read.