Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Arthur Lee (musician)
Lee was born either born Arthur Lee Porter or Arthur Taylor Porter, on 7 March, 1945, in Memphis, Tennessee. The family moved to Los Angeles, California when Lee was young. He says he was exposed to and inspired by all kinds of music.
The first known recording is from 1963, called "The Ninth Wave". It is from his first band, the instrumental outfit called The LAG's, a Booker T & The MG's type of unit, which included Johnny Echols, the future guitarist and vocalist for the original line-up of Love. The rest of the LAG's included Lee, organ, Alan Talbot, saxophone, Roland Davis, drums.
As a songwriter, Lee composed surf songs, "White Caps" and "Ski Surfin' Sanctuary". "My Diary" is the first Lee composition that was somewhat of a hit. It was written for the R&B singer Rosa Lee Brooks, who performed and recorded it. This recording included Jimi Hendrix on electric guitar. Lee had seen Jimi as a session man backing up the O'Jays. It's quite possible that this is the first appearance of Hendrix on vinyl and, indeed, the first known Hendrix recording session.
"I've Been Tryin'" was written for Little Ray. "Luci Baines", he performed and recorded with his new band, The American Four. "Everybody Jerk" and "Slow Jerk" he composed for Ronnie And The Pamona Casuals, an (obviously) local band, which did put out an LP, on the Donna label, and Lee did sing lead vocals on those tracks.
Unfortunately, these early recordings are really hard to come by, aside from a certain 1997 bootleg CD, which, though illicit, is convenient but, not surprisingly, it contains very little information.
Lee said when he first heard the Byrds, he felt rather vindicated since he'd already been writing music that had that same folk rock sound. The Grass Roots, his folk rock unit, eventually turned into Love because there was already a signed act called the Grass Roots. This was in 1965. As is usually the case, because of this name crisis, several names were considered, among these were Summer's Children, the Asylum Choir, Dr. Strangelove and Poetic Justice. The name Love was chosen after a club audience voted it as the best choice. According to the book Arthur Lee: Alone Again Or, by Barney Hoskyns, from 2001, Bobby Beausoleil said that Arthur had named the band Love in honor of one of Bobby's nicknames, Cupid.
It was Lee who was the original psychedelic black man, pre-Jimi and pre- Sly Stone in music, costume, fashion and attitude.
Often referred to as a roadie, actually he was the road manager, for The Byrds was Bryan MacLean, a Brian Jones lookalike, a well-connected Angeleno and extremely talented guitarist, singer/songwriter, artist and future member of Love.
The fact that an early guitarist for Love, when they were still The Grass Roots, was Bobby Beausoleil, whose last name translates into meaning "good sun," and who the media associates with Charles Manson's gang of LA societal disconnecteds, called The Family, is fitting when you consider the music, lyrics and delivery of Love songs. Love and Lee music was and is R&B, protopunk, is crystalline ballads, sunshine and happy pop emenating Psychedelia but it's also, simultaneously, disturbing garage rock. It's, for many, disturbing because Lee's delivery and his lyrics don't ignore life's odder and frightening sides. According to Beausoleil, Arthur told him that he'd decided to rename the band Love in honor of Beausoleil's nickname, Cupid. By this time Bryan MacLean was already in the band, having moved in whilst Beausoleil took a trip up north to San Francisco.
What Bryan contributed was the balladeer style that is so significant in the Love sound. He was influenced by show tunes as a child, including South Pacific. He and his first girlfriend, Liza Minnelli would sing and play instruments, singing lots of songs, including those from The Wizard Of Oz.
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