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  • Influential Rocker Arthur Lee Dies

    Fri, 04 Aug 2006 09:44:31

    Influential Rocker Arthur Lee Dies - Driving force behind psychedelic rock pioneers Love loses battle with leukemia.

    Arthur Lee, a Los Angeles-based musician whose band Love helped create the blueprint for the psychedelic rock of the '60s, died Thursday (August 3rd) at a hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, after a long battle with leukemia. He was 61.

    Lee's manager, Mark Linn, announced the news to Reuters, saying, "His death comes as a shock to me because Arthur had the uncanny ability to bounce back from everything, and leukemia was no exception. He was confident that he would be back on stage by the fall."

    Lee was born and raised in Memphis but later moved to Los Angeles and formed Love there in 1965. The band's original lineup released three albums before disbanding in 1968; their final record, the lush, elaborately produced Forever Changes, is widely regarded as one of the greatest rock albums of all time.

    After Forever Changes, Lee struggled to keep Love together through myriad lineup changes, and both he and the band sank into obscurity, despite other groups over the next two decades, from Led Zeppelin to Echo & the Bunnymen, frequently citing them as an influence. Lee's famously erratic behavior finally caught up with him in 1995, when he was sentenced to six years in prison for firing a pistol into the air (his sentence was made harsher under California law because of previous drug offenses).

    Upon his release in 2001, a newly invigorated Lee assembled a new version of Love and hit the road. Lee and his new band would often play Forever Changes from start to finish, and the acclaimed concerts began to lift Love's name back out of cult status.

    But early this year, Lee was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. He underwent a rare bone marrow transplant procedure in May, but his chances for survival were still considered slim. Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant was one of several musicians who helped organize benefit concerts to help Lee pay his medical bills.

    According to Lee's manager, he died Thursday at about 5 p.m. EDT with his wife, Diane, by his side.

    --The ARTISTdirect Staff

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