Love

Love live at Hollywood Bowl

Love was an American rock group of the late 1960s and early 1970s. They were led by singer/songwriters Arthur Lee, Bryan MacLean and lead guitarist Johnny Echols. One of the first racially diverse American pop bands, their music reflected different influences, combining elements of rock and roll, garage rock, folk and psychedelia.

History

1963–1966

Lee, who had lived in Los Angeles since the age of five, had been recording since 1963 with his bands, the LAG’s and Lee’s American Four. He had also produced a single, “My Diary”, for Rosa Lee Brooks in 1964 which featured Jimi Hendrix on guitar. A garage outfit, The Sons Of Adam, which included future Love drummer Michael Stuart, also recorded a Lee composition, “Feathered Fish”. However, after viewing a Byrds performance, Lee determined to join the newly minted folk-rock sound of the Byrds to his primarily rhythm and blues style. Soon after, he formed The Grass Roots with guitarist Johnny Echols (another Memphis native), bass guitarist John (Fleck) Fleckenstein and drummer Don Conka. Byrds roadie Bryan MacLean joined the band just before they changed their name to Love, spurred by the release of a single by another group called The Grass Roots. Fleckenstein went on to join the Standells in 1967.

Love started playing the Los Angeles clubs in April 1965 and became a popular act. At this time, they were playing extended numbers such as “Revelation” (originally titled “John Lee Hooker”) and getting the attention of such contemporaries as the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds. The band lived communally in a house called “the Castle”, and their first two albums included photographs shot in the garden of that house.
1966–1968

Signed to the Elektra Records label, the band scored a minor hit single in 1966 with their version of Burt Bacharach’s “My Little Red Book”. In the meantime, Ken Forssi (from a post-“Wipe Out” lineup of The Surfaris) became the bassist for the group. Their first album, Love, was released in July 1966, and included “Signed D.C” and MacLean’s “Softly To Me”. The album sold moderately well and reached #57 on the Billboard 200 chart.

In August, 1966, the single “7 and 7 Is” notable for the exceptional guitar work of Johnny Echols and the looping bass lines of Ken Forssi became their highest-charting at #33 in the Billboard Hot 100. Two more members were added around this time, Tjay Cantrelli (aka John Barberis) on woodwinds and Michael Stuart on drums. Pfisterer, never a confident drummer, switched to harpsichord.

Their musical reputation largely rests on two albums issued in 1967, Da Capo and Forever Changes. Da Capo, released in February of that year, included rockers like “Stephanie Knows Who” and “7 and 7 Is”, and melodic songs such as “¡Qué Vida!” and “She Comes in Colors”. Cantrelli and Pfisterer soon left the band, leaving it as a five-piece once again.

Forever Changes, released in December 1967, is a suite of songs using acoustic guitars, strings and horns that was recorded while the band was falling apart as the result of various abuses and a failed power play by Bryan Maclean, trying to get more of his songs on the album. The band recorded the album in only 64 hours. Writer Richard Meltzer, in his The Aesthetics of Rock, commented on Love’s “orchestral moves”, “post-doper word contraction cuteness” and Lee’s vocal style that serves as a “reaffirmation of Johnny Mathis”. Forever Changes included one hit single, the MacLean-written “Alone Again Or”, while “You Set the Scene” received airplay from some progressive rock radio stations. By this stage, Love were far more popular in the UK, where the album reached #24, than in their home country, where it could only reach #154. More recently the album has received a number of very distinguished awards.

1968–2006

MacLean, suffering from heroin addiction, soon left the band, as did all the other members except Lee. MacLean later emerged as a Contemporary Christian artist. Echols and Forssi also experienced the ravages of drug addiction and disappeared from the scene. Echols moved to New York and became a very busy studio musician. Arthur Lee, as the only remaining member, convened a new lineup and continued recording as Love. The reconstituted version of Love, which included Jay Donnellan and then Gary Rowles on guitars, Frank Fayad on bass guitar, and George Suranovich on drums, played in a blues-rock style, different from the band’s previous line-up. The new line-up never garnered the wide spread acceptance or acclaim of the original group. Three albums were released by various permutations of this lineup: Four Sail (1969), Out Here (1969), and False Start (1970). The latter featured a guest appearance by Jimi Hendrix. Arthur Lee released the solo album Vindicator in 1972, followed by a final official Love album, Reel to Real (1974), recorded by Lee and session musicians. Love was finally discontinued in the late 1970s, and various plans to reunite the original Love in the following years did not come to fruition. Lee re-emerged with the one-off single, “Girl on Fire”, in 1994.

After spending six years in prison from 1995 to 2001 for firearms offenses, Lee began to play Love’s classic songs in concert by reuniting with the members of Baby Lemonade. In the early years of the 2000s (decade), co-founder of Love and original guitarist Johnny Echols rejoined Lee, in this line-up and performed as “Love with Arthur Lee and Johnny Echols”. This reformed group toured for several years, frequently performing Forever Changes in its entirety.

Forssi died of a suspected brain tumor in his home state of Florida at age 54 on 10 January 1998. MacLean died in Los Angeles of a heart attack at age 52 on 25 December 1998 while having dinner with a young fan who was researching a book about the band. Lee died in Memphis, Tennessee, at age 61 on 3 August 2006, of complications from leukemia.

In 2002 Michael Stuart (now Michael Stuart-Ware), the drummer on Da Capo and Forever Changes, wrote the acclaimed book Behind the Scenes on the Pegasus Carousel with the Legendary Rock Group Love.

Stuart-Ware and Echols performed with Baby Lemonade at Hollywood’s Whisky A Go-Go, on June 28, 2006, for the concert to benefit Lee, who had been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia earlier in the decade.

2006–present

In 2009, a reformed version of Love, featuring Echols (he and Pfisterer are the only living original members), members of Baby Lemonade, and Probyn Gregory of the Wondermints toured the United States and Canada. Echols joined by Baby Lemonade, continues to tour as Love.

According to Rolling Stone, Love’s unreleased 1973 LP “Black Beauty” will finally hit shelves on June 7, 2012, according to a statement released by the new label High Moon Records. Produced by Paul Rothchild – who worked on The Doors’ first five albums – the R&B-infused album was meant to be the first record by a new line-up of Love three years after frontman Arthur Lee quietly disbanded the Sixties psychedelic band. Lee’s record label went bankrupt before the LP was due out and album was shelved.

I built the first official website for Bryan MacLean, last major update back in 2006: http://www.bryanmaclean.com

Torben Skott’s excellent Love website: http://love.torbenskott.dk/

Feel free to use our Facebook page to discuss & ask any questions you have about this artist, a fellow PsycheHead is sure to have the answer.

Tracks played on Psychedelicized…

    From 1966 album Love
    Love

  • A Message To Pretty
  • And More
  • Can’t Explain
  • Colored Balls Falling
  • Emotions
  • Gazing
  • Hey Joe
  • Mushroom Clouds
  • My Flash On You
  • My Little Red Book
  • No Matter What You Do
  • Number 14 [b-side of 7 & 7 Is single]
  • Signed D.C.
  • Softly To Me
  • You I’ll Be Following


  • From 1967 album Da Capo
    Love - Da Capo

  • Stephanie Knows Who
  • Orange Skies
  • ¡Qué Vida!
  • Seven & Seven Is
  • Seven & Seven Is [mono single]
  • The Castle
  • She Comes In Colors


  • From 1968 album Forever Changes
    Love - Forever Changes

  • A House Is Not A Motel
  • Alone Again Or [mono single]
  • Alone Again Or
  • Andmoreagain
  • Bummer In The Summer
  • Laughing Stock [single b-side]
  • Live and Let Live
  • Maybe the People Would Be the Times or Between Clark and Hilldale
  • Old Man
  • The Daily Planet
  • The Good Humor Man He Sees Everything Like This
  • The Red Telephone
  • Wonder People (I Do Wonder) [Outtake]
  • You Set the Scene
  • Your Mind and We Belong Together [single a-side]


  • From 1969 album Four Sail
    Love - Four Sail

  • Always See Your Face
  • August
  • Dream
  • I’m With You
  • Nothing
  • Robert Montgomery
  • Singing Cowboy


  • From 2007 compilation album The Blue Thumb Recordings
    (covering the Out Here (1969) & False Start (1970) albums)
    Love - Blue Thumb Recordings

  • Flying
  • I Still Wonder
  • Listen To My Song
  • Love Is More Than Words or Better Late Than Never [edit]
  • Nice To Be
  • The Everlasting First
  • You Are Something To Me
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