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Arthur Lee

4th August 2006

Arthur Lee, the singer with legendary 60s band Love, has died at the age of 61.

Lee, a Memphis native, formed Love in Los Angeles in 1965, releasing their first album, Love, the following year.

This was the start of a run of classic albums that peaked in 1967's Forever Changes, also the last album to feature the original line up of Lee, Johnny Echols, Bryan MacLean, Ken Forssi and Michael Stuart.

Despite considerable critical acclaim that saw Forever Changes hailed as Love's response to The Beatles' Sergeant Pepper, the album failed to sell and Lee split the band, later reforming it with a new line up and harder sound.

Love went on to release three further albums, Four Sail, Out Here and False Start, none of which charted in the Billboard 100 and in 1972 Lee released his first solo album, Vindicator.

The next 30 years saw Lee continue with his solo career, periodically reforming Love, including a 2002 European tour in which the band performed Forever Changes in full. Lee also spent time in prison for the illegal possession of a firearm, sentenced under California's "three strikes" policy after previous assault and drugs charges.

In April 2006 it was announced that Lee was being treated for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. A tribute fund was set up and a series of concerts was held to help pay hospital bills, including one in New York featuring Robert Plant, Yo La Tengo and Ryan Adams.

Lee's manager, Mark Linn, said in an email: "Arthur Lee died peacefully at Methodist Hospital in Memphis, a little after four in the afternoon Aug 3, 2006 with his wife Diane by his side. His death comes as a shock to me because Arthur had the uncanny ability to bounce back from everything, and leukaemia was no exception. He was confident that he would be back on stage by the fall.

"When I visited with him recently, he was visibly moved by the stories and pictures from the NYC benefit concert. He was truly grateful for the outpouring of love from friends and fans all over the world since news of his illness became public. We watched the DVD of the great House of Blues concert from '03, and he told me how much he appreciated [backing band] Baby Lemonade's dedication to his music.

"Arthur always lived in the moment, and said what he thought when he thought it. I'll miss his phone calls, and his long voice messages, but most of all I'll miss Arthur playing Arthur's music."

 

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