Visionary, innovator, enigma, genius, poet, megalomaniac, excon, recluse, instigator, integrator; Arthur Lee was all these and more. His music continues to resonate and inspire generations of fans old and new.
Lee has been honoured with a Grammy Hall of Fame award and fêted by the British House of Commons, which declared his psychedelic masterpiece Forever Changes the greatest album of all time. The Los Angeles Times dubbed the seminal 1967 album "perhaps the most quintessentially Los Angeles record there ever is, it will always retain certain immutable qualities that Love's music captures."
Ensconced in a gothic mansion known as The Castle, and fronting the first fully racially integrated rock band, Love, Lee emerged from the nascent LA folkrock scene in 1965. Love's first two albums were groundbreaking, infusing folkrock, garagepunk, jazz, blues, flamenco and classical music elements. But with their third, Forever Changes, Lee and Love achieved immortality.
Though he continued to record for the better part of the next 30 years, Lee was never able to top this crowning glory. Spiraling into excess and increasingly bizarre behavior, Lee ultimately bottomed out after being sentenced to 12 years in a California state prison for weapons offences. His release after 5 ½ years launched one of rock music's greatest redemption stories, as Lee mounted the widely acclaimed Forever Changes tours to ecstatic audiences who despaired of ever hearing Lee perform his masterwork with an orchestra.
Arthur Lee died of leukemia in a Memphis hospital August 3, 2006 just days after a starstudded tribute concert headed by one of his greatest admirers, Robert Plant. The music world mourned the loss of one of rock music's most charismatic and enigmatic geniuses.
Written with the support and cooperation of the Arthur Lee Estate, Forever Changes: Arthur Lee and the Book of Love boasts unprecedented access to its subject. It draws on exclusive interviews with those closest to Lee, in addition to Lee's own voice, drawn from his personal journals, diaries and an unpublished autobiography.
John Einarson is the author of 13 books, including the criticallyacclaimed Hot Burritos: The True Story Of The Flying Burrito Brothers (Jawbone Books, 2008), named one of the 10 best music books of 2008 by Uncut magazine, and Mr. Tambourine Man: The Life & Legacy of The Byrds' Gene Clark (Backbeat Books, 2005), cited among the 10 best music books of 2005 by Uncut and Record Collector.
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