A posting on Torben Skott’s Love message board earlier today by manager Mark Linn confirmed the sad news of Arthur Lee’s passing at the age of 61.
When I was three or four years old, I used to hear the marching bands in Memphis: from then on I was banging on boxes and singing in the bathroom. But who made me what I am today, musically speaking? Nobody. My purpose on this earth is to leave a mark, brother, that will never be forgotten. – from an interview with the Guardian’s Will Hodginkson, Feb. 2004
Love’s first album, “Love,” had the Byrds stamped all over it: chiming guitars, plangent vocals, choir-boy harmonies, most in service to radio-friendly ditties (a huge hit locally, “Little Red Book” only went to No. 52 nationwide). But there was something unique here too: a sense of childlike loss and yearning in the heartfelt “A Message to Pretty” (“I go slip-slip/You go slip-slip/Away”), a realistic depiction of junkie life in “Signed D.C.” (named after a former band mate) and bad vibes abundant. Lee sang of “little children dying in an age of hate” on “Mushroom Clouds” and brought down lots of listeners. The songs were rife with drug references, and not the nice kind. “Don’t force your smuggled drugs my way,” he sang on “My Flash on You,” “Cause I cleansed my soul and that’s how it’s going to stay.” – Sean Elder, Salon