Friday, August 7, 2009

An Evening With Love

In August 2006, I wrote an article paying tribute to Arthur Lee, the founder and lead singer of the '60s rock group Love, after he died of acute myeloid leukemia.

During Lee's final years he was backed by a group called Baby Lemonade who were to Lee what the Wondermints have been to Brian Wilson. The current lineup features Baby Lemonade (with Rusty Squeezebox on lead vocal and guitar and Mike Randle on guitar) and original Love member Johnny Echols on guitar.

Tonight, I got to see Love play in concert at the Middle East Downstairs in Cambridge. To give you an idea how important it was for me to see this concert I skipped out on tonight's Red Sox-Yankees game (although I would see a good chunk of the game at the bar.) More on the Sox-Yankees in a subsequent post.

All the songs performed tonight were from Love's first three albums (Love, Da Capo and, of course, Forever Changes.) I was surprised no songs from Four Sail were performed, especially "August" given the time of the season. But I have no complaints. I got to hear songs Love seldom performs live like "A Message to Pretty" and "Stephanie Knows Who."

The highlight of the evening though came when I got to meet with Mike Randle. A few months after writing the tribute to Arthur, Randle sent me an e-mail of appreciation. In the six plus years of writing my columns it is amongst the e-mails of which I am most proud. Randle collaborated with Lee musically for nearly a decade. So the fact he took the time to contact me meant what I had written resonated with him even though I never met Arthur. So I was thrilled to finally meet him and he remembered the article.

Randle mentioned he is still working with Arthur's widow, Diane, to put out previously unreleased material recorded in the 1980s and 1990s. We also spoke about Sky Saxon. The frontman for The Seeds was supposed to be on this bill with Love (as were The Electric Prunes) but Saxon died suddenly in June. In fact, he died the same day as Michael Jackson. Randle called Saxon "the last real hippie."

He also took an interest in the Sox-Yankees game and was amazed it was scoreless in the 14th inning (again more on that I promise.) When Arthur was still with the group, Love had performed at the Paradise in Boston and after the gig had watched Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS between the Sox and the Yankees which was won by the Yankees on an Aaron Boone homerun. The fact he referred to him as Aaron "#%*@" Boone tells me that he is a Sox fan.

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