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Widely hailed as a genius, Arthur Lee was a character every bit as colorful and unique as his music. In 1966, he was Prince of the Sunset Strip, busy with his pioneering racially-mixed band Love, and accelerating the evolution of California folk-rock by infusing it with jazz and orchestral influences, a process that would climax in a timeless masterpiece, the Love album Fo Widely hailed as a genius, Arthur Lee was a character every bit as colorful and unique as his music. In 1966, he was Prince of the Sunset Strip, busy with his pioneering racially-mixed band Love, and accelerating the evolution of California folk-rock by infusing it with jazz and orchestral influences, a process that would climax in a timeless masterpiece, the Love album Forever Changes. Shaped by a Memphis childhood and a South Los Angeles youth, Lee always craved fame. Drug use and a reticence to tour were his Achilles heels, and he succumbed to a dissolute lifestyle just as superstardom was beckoning. Despite endorsements from the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton, Leess subsequent career was erratic and haunted by the shadow of Forever Changes, reaching a nadir with his 1996 imprisonment for a firearms offence. Redemption followed, culminating in an astonishing post-millennial comeback that found him playing Forever Changes to adoring multi-generational fans around the world. This upswing was only interrupted by his untimely death, from leukemia, in 2006. Writing with the full consent and cooperation of Arthur's widow, Diane Lee, author John Einarson has meticulously researched a biography that includes lengthy extracts from the singer's vivid, comic, and poignant memoirs, published here for the first time.


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Widely hailed as a genius, Arthur Lee was a character every bit as colorful and unique as his music. In 1966, he was Prince of the Sunset Strip, busy with his pioneering racially-mixed band Love, and accelerating the evolution of California folk-rock by infusing it with jazz and orchestral influences, a process that would climax in a timeless masterpiece, the Love album Fo Widely hailed as a genius, Arthur Lee was a character every bit as colorful and unique as his music. In 1966, he was Prince of the Sunset Strip, busy with his pioneering racially-mixed band Love, and accelerating the evolution of California folk-rock by infusing it with jazz and orchestral influences, a process that would climax in a timeless masterpiece, the Love album Forever Changes. Shaped by a Memphis childhood and a South Los Angeles youth, Lee always craved fame. Drug use and a reticence to tour were his Achilles heels, and he succumbed to a dissolute lifestyle just as superstardom was beckoning. Despite endorsements from the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton, Leess subsequent career was erratic and haunted by the shadow of Forever Changes, reaching a nadir with his 1996 imprisonment for a firearms offence. Redemption followed, culminating in an astonishing post-millennial comeback that found him playing Forever Changes to adoring multi-generational fans around the world. This upswing was only interrupted by his untimely death, from leukemia, in 2006. Writing with the full consent and cooperation of Arthur's widow, Diane Lee, author John Einarson has meticulously researched a biography that includes lengthy extracts from the singer's vivid, comic, and poignant memoirs, published here for the first time.

30 review for Forever Changes: Arthur Lee and the Book Of Love - The Authorized Biography of Arthur Lee

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jim Cherry

    Love, is a band that has had a lot of myth, lore and rumor surrounding it. “Forever Changes: Arthur Lee and the Book of Love” separates the fact from the fantasy and legend sticking to the bones of Love due to the years, if not decades of fan conjecture in the face of silence from Arthur Lee. Author John Einarson does this with meticulous research and interviews with family, friends, and bandmates of Arthur Lee from his earliest days to his death in 2006. Einarson also incorporates the manuscrip Love, is a band that has had a lot of myth, lore and rumor surrounding it. “Forever Changes: Arthur Lee and the Book of Love” separates the fact from the fantasy and legend sticking to the bones of Love due to the years, if not decades of fan conjecture in the face of silence from Arthur Lee. Author John Einarson does this with meticulous research and interviews with family, friends, and bandmates of Arthur Lee from his earliest days to his death in 2006. Einarson also incorporates the manuscript of an unfinished autobiography Lee was working on after he left prison. “Forever Changes” focuses on Lee/Love’s heyday in the mid 60’s when Lee’s band Love was the undisputed heaviest band on L.A.’s Sunset Strip. They were at the forefront of the folk-rock music scene. Love was the first house band at the Whisky a-go-go, and Arthur Lee may have been the sartorial model for hippies of the later 60’s. Lee certainly thought Jimi Hendrix had adopted his mode of dress after meeting him. Lee and Love (the two are indistinguishable) were one of the first bands signed by Elektra records Jac Holzman. A record deal that culminated in Lee/Love’s artistic and critical success with the album “Forever Changes.” Lee/Love were at the top of L.A.’s music scene. Jim Morrison commented that the early goal of The Doors was to be as big as Love. Just as the other bands were breaking nationally Lee and Love faltered. Why did the other bands succeed? And why didn’t Love not reach a national audience? A lot of that does fall to Lee. He did little national touring, he had contentious relationships with record companies, money disputes with bandmates and a mercurial habit of changing the lineup of the bands. “Forever Changes” doesn’t fall into the trap that other rock books have, of not paying enough attention to or glossing over what came after their halcyon period. You come away from reading Forever Changes feeling that you have a good idea of Lee’s life after he was “the prince of Sunset Strip.” Lee was influential and admired in the Los Angeles music scene that he boasted friendships with Jimi Hendrix, who Lee met in a recording session when Hendrix was still doing session work. The Doors, who succeeded Love as house band at The Whisky and Lee also recommended them to Jac Holzman. Both The Doors and Hendrix make special guest appearances in the book. Towards the end of his life Lee discovered that he had admirers in Eric Clapton, Robert Plant, Ian Hunter, and Robyn Hitchcock. The first thing you notice after receiving your copy of “Forever Changes: Arthur Lee and the Book of Love” is that it’s an absolutely gorgeous book. It’s cover and pages are high quality paper and the pictures are high gloss and has a high tactile quality, it‘s a book you‘ll find yourself leafing through again and again. Einarson’s use of Lee’s autobiography is spot on. The manuscript is used sparingly but intelligently. The passages used are like a laser light on the subject at hand, and capture Lee cutting to the heart of the matter and shedding light on what may have been heretofore muddied by myth. Lee’s voice stands out from Einarson’s surrounding narrative and has the feel of listening to a tape recording of Lee as he describes the times, events and the L.A. scene. “Forever Changes” is one of the best rock biography’s I’ve read . When I started reading “Forever Changes” I wasn’t a Lee/Love fan but Einarson’s writing pulled me right in and made me care about Lee and his life.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Josef

    I thought I'd better speak up here in response to the rather uneducated character assassination of Arthur Lee posted earlier by Jon who tells us which Love songs He likes. Some folks are just stuck on the Arthur they LOVE. Arthur was a great friend of mine. He was not easy but he was no rip-off artist either! It's easy to judge and gossip or to get stuck on a certain era/vibe. He was no hippy that's for sure! Every Rock bio or band history is littered with "hard-done-by's" ex-band mates claiming I thought I'd better speak up here in response to the rather uneducated character assassination of Arthur Lee posted earlier by Jon who tells us which Love songs He likes. Some folks are just stuck on the Arthur they LOVE. Arthur was a great friend of mine. He was not easy but he was no rip-off artist either! It's easy to judge and gossip or to get stuck on a certain era/vibe. He was no hippy that's for sure! Every Rock bio or band history is littered with "hard-done-by's" ex-band mates claiming they did this or that and "never got paid/didn't/were ripped/didn't get credit". Par for the course. Arthur was dead when this book was written so the contention that it was REALLY "authorized" is silly...though it does say that on the cover. Do the math...don't believe the hype. I speak from knowledge as I was interviewed twice. John Einerson had a big, tough job. He got a lot wrong because so much misinformation was given to him. Two examples: 1) I recorded an album with Arthur called Black Beauty which was not released until 2012! The book claims that Paul Rothchild (The Doors) produced that record. Not true. He came to 1 maybe 2 mix sessions and was not at the recording sessions At All. 2) the book claims that Arthur Lee insulted Robert Stigwood when Love opened for Eric Clapton at a gig in England. Not true. Point of fact...I was in the band at that time and we NEVER opened for Eric Clapton in England. But someone told the author that he was there and personally witnessed the incident... if you want to know who...read the book. It is a good story...just not the whole story. Arthur Lee had/has many admirers....I was his next door neighbor from the time I was 18 and I recall Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and George Harrison, to name a few, pulling up randomly outside wanting to just meet him....begging him to come to their shows...which he rarely did. Honestly I just pick it up and scan from time to time. I'll never read it cover to cover. Arthur was an interesting, highly intelligent and funny guy. I don't really get him from what I've read in this book but then I knew him very well. He was loyal to a fault with his friends but many who 'thought' they were his friends found out cruelly that they were not. He was that rare thing, a black man in the Rock world. There was only Jimi Hendrix, Sly Stone, Buddy Miles and Arthur Lee. I recommend the book for casual reading as a window on the times but keep the salt handy.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nina

    Einarson's meticulously researched rock biographies are the Behind the Music of print. With Forever Changes, Einarson has once again captured an era through music. The music of the sixties defined my life, and while I had Love albums, I knew little about Arthur Lee or the band. Although Einarson discusses the drug use of Lee and his bandmates, the book does not bog down under repetitive details of who took what and how much. The focus is the music, which makes this account a joy to read. Einarson Einarson's meticulously researched rock biographies are the Behind the Music of print. With Forever Changes, Einarson has once again captured an era through music. The music of the sixties defined my life, and while I had Love albums, I knew little about Arthur Lee or the band. Although Einarson discusses the drug use of Lee and his bandmates, the book does not bog down under repetitive details of who took what and how much. The focus is the music, which makes this account a joy to read. Einarson uses excerpts from Lee's unpublished memoirs as well as interviews with many of the people who knew and worked with Lee to craft a detailed biography. There are rich descriptions of the composition, arranging and recording process. Einarson balances the musical genius and cult status of Lee with info about his aversity to touring, a characteristic which was Lee's undoing in terms of broad recognition and fortune. Many seemingly opposing facets to Lee's personality are revealed; he could be kind and generous to family and friends, volatile in personal and business relationships, and nearly impossible to work with.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    I haven't read former band member Michael Stuart's book, but it's hard to believe there's a better biography on Love and Arthur Lee. I would have liked more analysis of the later albums, and there's almost a jump from the late 80's to the mid-90's (Granted, Lee's least productive time), but these are minor quibbles. I found the book very readable and, among many other things, was pleased to learn about the individual contributions of the original band members to the group's first three LPs.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jon

    This is Arthur Lee's "authorized" biography and he still comes off as a complete bastard, an egomaniacal ripoff artist. (Among other charming deeds, he screwed sidekick Bryan Maclean out of his royalties for the Love songs Maclean wrote.) Oh well, Love did make 3 fine albums (I'm counting side one of DA CAPO and the half-dozen good songs on FOUR SAIL as one LP). This book clears up a number of myths about Love (no, they didn't kill their manager, and no, guitarist John Echols and bassist Ken For This is Arthur Lee's "authorized" biography and he still comes off as a complete bastard, an egomaniacal ripoff artist. (Among other charming deeds, he screwed sidekick Bryan Maclean out of his royalties for the Love songs Maclean wrote.) Oh well, Love did make 3 fine albums (I'm counting side one of DA CAPO and the half-dozen good songs on FOUR SAIL as one LP). This book clears up a number of myths about Love (no, they didn't kill their manager, and no, guitarist John Echols and bassist Ken Forssi didn't rob donut shops to feed their drug habits) and should be read by anyone who loves Love, just don't expect to love Lee by the time you've finished.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rico Caraco

    John Einarson doesn't bother tarting up this history of one of the quintessential 60s bands, Love. The story is beguiling enough in itself, full of mystery, wonder and magic. Narcotic meltdown, barely contained fury both musical and otherwise, the totemic presence of bandleader Arthur Lee is the breathing heart of the 'Book of Love' and this is a recommended read for fans of the band and of the period.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tony Sannicandro

    1) if your familiar with the music of Arthur Lee go to #3 if not 2) go listen to the album Forever Changes and/or The Forever Changes Concert. 3) read this book! Here is the story that's touching, maddening, happy and sad of the man who recorded the greatest rock album ever. Ok all you Beatles, U2 and Stones fans you didn't follow directions! Now go!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Allan Heron

    Author Einarson was always going to be a safe pair of hands for a biography of Arthur Lee given his other required books on American West Coast rock. The book makes some sense of a life more remembered through myth and legend. Clearly a powerful and charismatic man, he was never able to be open enough to others in his life to ultimately fully benefit from his talents. As many have said, he was his own worst enemy but it speaks to his considerable talents that so many were prepared to make so many Author Einarson was always going to be a safe pair of hands for a biography of Arthur Lee given his other required books on American West Coast rock. The book makes some sense of a life more remembered through myth and legend. Clearly a powerful and charismatic man, he was never able to be open enough to others in his life to ultimately fully benefit from his talents. As many have said, he was his own worst enemy but it speaks to his considerable talents that so many were prepared to make so many allowances. Unfortunately, the Californian legal system did not do so but, again, Lee was seemingly impervious to the need to recognise the deep trouble he was in At the end of the day, it's the music that matters and I'll now be able to return to all of the albums with a deeper understanding of how they were created.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kiof

    One of the only two books I've ever ILL'd (instead of summit-ing)- the other was John French's book on Beefheart, which delivered and then some. So I was disappointed based on that alone. But it is a reasonably good and comprehensive book, though you never get a sense what was the magic that made Love's first few albums. Those records are so unusual and brilliant musically and lyrically, and I just never got a sense of how the songs were created, they just seem to come out of the ether. But that One of the only two books I've ever ILL'd (instead of summit-ing)- the other was John French's book on Beefheart, which delivered and then some. So I was disappointed based on that alone. But it is a reasonably good and comprehensive book, though you never get a sense what was the magic that made Love's first few albums. Those records are so unusual and brilliant musically and lyrically, and I just never got a sense of how the songs were created, they just seem to come out of the ether. But that is the case with many 60s bands, even the Beatles, the sources of the creativity or how the songs were really written are never fully described or analyzed.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jon Rose

    The author could have done better to integrate all of the interviews into a more fluid narrative. The book would have benefitted from some more editing. That said, those who read this book will learn a lot about Arthur Lee and Love. I would say this book is for Arthur Lee/Love fans only but I think anyone interested in American music in the 60s and beyond would find the stories interesting.

  11. 5 out of 5

    DATK

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tommy

  13. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

  14. 4 out of 5

    Brooker

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lou100

  16. 5 out of 5

    Marc

  17. 4 out of 5

    lordouch

  18. 5 out of 5

    Russellino

  19. 5 out of 5

    Keith

  20. 5 out of 5

    Greg

  21. 4 out of 5

    Filip

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mark

  23. 5 out of 5

    theCarbonFreeze

  24. 4 out of 5

    Beth

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mark Dillon

  26. 5 out of 5

    John

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dan

  28. 4 out of 5

    Michael Johnson

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mark Nichols

  30. 5 out of 5

    Joel Register

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