Love Q&A: “Arthur Lee wasn’t the asshole he’s portrayed as”

Love, rock band, group shot

Your upcoming tour celebrates the music of Love on the tenth anniversary of the death of frontman Arthur Lee. Where were you when you heard that he’d died?

I remember it vividly. I’d just been at the hospital in Memphis with him. I got back to Los Angeles, and Diane [Lee’s wife] called to say he had passed. It was devastating.

Arthur served time in jail. What kind of a person was he?

The guy I knew was entirely different to the persona that he presented on stage. Most of that was a façade. Arthur was a really nice, intelligent man, and not the recalcitrant asshole that he’s sometimes portrayed as.

He hid his illness, a form of leukaemia, from the band until the end.

He wanted to deal with it alone. Looking back now, there were signs that something was wrong, but I had no idea [he was going to die] until several months before it happened.

Do you think he’d like this tribute?

He’d love it. There’s no doubt he’d have wanted us to carry on and keep his music alive.

The set will include songs from the albums Love made in 1966 and ‘67. How does it feel to play those songs without the man largely responsible for writing them?

I still feel Arthur’s presence whenever we’re on stage. And this will be a longer show than normal because we’re also dipping into Four Sail [1969] because Bryan [MacLean, rhythm guitarist], Ken [Forssi, bassist] and I worked on some of those songs [before they were recorded by the next line-up].

There’s some YouTube footage of Love’s hit Alone Again Or from a show you played this year and it looks really good.

Thanks. People like that we’re doing a whole Love discography instead of sticking to the material from Forever Changes.

Dave Ling

Dave Ling was a co-founder of Classic Rock magazine. His words have appeared in a variety of music publications, including RAW, Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Prog, Rock Candy, Fireworks and Sounds. Dave’s life was shaped in 1974 through the purchase of a copy of Sweet’s album ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’, along with early gig experiences from Status Quo, Rush, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Yes and Queen. As a lifelong season ticket holder of Crystal Palace FC, he is completely incapable of uttering the word ‘Br***ton’.