Friday, November 09, 2007

Arthur Lee Interview

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thanks to torben
Arthur Lee Interview from
Rockmusic ru Magazine
December 2003

Arthur Lee: "I am blessed enough to know who I am"
Arthur Lee is the strange and contradictory persona. His band Love albums became classics no less than The Beatles´ "Sgt.Pepper´s Lonely Hearts Club Band" or "Piper at the Gates of Down" Pink Floyd.
Love was the first LA underground band to sign with the major label - Elektra: dark-skinned frontman, dressed in camouflage, leather jeans, one military boot and with a bottle in his hands, screaming wild and twitching onstage - he knew, how to make the impression. But on the peak of success Arthur Lee have decided, that touring is unnecessary - and Elekta boss Jack Holtzman hired Love imitators, The Doors, - and everyone knows, what happens afterwards. In 1969, after the most successful album "Forever Changes", Lee suddenly disbands Love and recruits absolutely new musicians.
He is all that - contradictorous, rebel-by-the-cause, even if the cause is he himself. Distant echoes of his ideas, his songs are everywhere in modern music, from pop to trip-hop to radical punk. As Bruce Botnick, sound engineer who recorded Love in 60s, said: "Hit parades of the 90s were overflowed by Arthur´s ideas of the 60s".
In 1995 Arthur Lee was imprisoned for 12 years for gun usage (Lee said, accusation was unjust). The campaign was organized for his discharge, where I did what I could (we have organized a concert here for Arthur Lee freedom). The goal was achieved, and in 2001 Arthur Lee was set free. He re-banded Love, and the new concert album and DVD "Forever Changes In Concert" was released.
I have contacted Arthur Lee and ask him some questions."

Q: J. Andrey Manoukhin for Rockmusic.Ru

A: Arthur Lee of Love

Q: In our country of 70-years totalitarism music of Love was absolutely prohibited, for listening it you could have been fired or even imprisoned for a half of month. Listening music of Love was such an exploit here. And Arthur Lee himself was like The Statue of Freedom. To think of THE man, who invented virtually all modern music, to have his breakfast or ironing his shirt, was a blasphemy. And how do you think, the living man Arthur Lee - who is he?

A. I am blessed enough to know who I am.

Q: The world has radically changed in this almost 40 years. Now, years later, you calmed down or still rebelling, in heart if not in words? And do world now needs The Man in One Boot?

A. Has the world changed now from what you thought I was rebelling about?

Q: You called yourselves Love - and were so wild and sometimes dangerous, that Peter Albin of Big Brother & The Holding Co. once said: "They should call themselves Hate". Don't you think you were too aggressive to be Love?

A. I think the guy from Big Brother has a mental problem at the time. I wonder how he is doing now.

Q: Your most successful albums, Da Capo and Forever Changes, both were released in 1967, year of Summer of Love. But you weren't the heroes of Summer of Love. You haven't even performed not one of big festivals of hippie era. Why? Was it, maybe, because of hippie ideology or something else?

A. I never was much for those non profit organisations. But I was one of the first black hippies.

Q: Some called Iggy Pop godfather of punk, some called Lou Reed. Haven't you ever wanted to state your own fathership? You deserve it.

A. I thought 7&7 Is was the first Punk record.

Q: Robby Krieger of Doors wanted to be as good as Love. You were both on Elektra, have same producer. But both now and in late 60s Doors were more popular, then you are, even if less interesting. What do you think of the situation?

A. I think it should be known that I was the one who helped the Doors get signed to Elektra Records.

Q: In early 60s you worked with another icon, Jimi Hendrix, and later recorded together. What do you think of him? Is that true, that you recorded not the only song, but the whole album together?

A. The first time Jimi Hendrix played in a recording studio was on one of my songs called MY DIARY. Read my book (when it comes out) and you'll find out what else I think of Jimi Hendrix.

Q: Now you are releasing Forever Changes In Concert both in CD and DVD formats. For me, it is the "must have" thing. But what do you want to say? And why now? And DVD - do you think it would be SO interesting, that people would not only listen, but watch you doing music onstage after all this years?

A. Buy and see yourself.

Q: Music of Love is loved for many people, and many of them are musicians, too. Notably, Robert Plant did House Is Not A Motel on his latest Song To The Siren album. Do you like cover versions of your songs, particularly his?

A. Although I've never heard his version, I think Robert Plant is a fine singer, a trend setter and a gentleman.

Q: What cover versions would you like to play, if it'll be the ocasion?

A. Mazzay Star, I guess Five String Serenade.

Q: You've created base for most of modern music scene. Who of current musicians could be creator for 30 years forward scene? Or you have successfully returned to fill that space?

A. I don't know anyone who can do what Im doing now

Q: You were and are a superstar, your name is in every rock encyclopaedia. What it is - to be a star?

A. I can't do nothing without the Grace of God.

Q: What do you believe in now?

A. God.
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