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Love is an American rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1965. They were originally led by singer/songwriter Arthur Lee,[5] who wrote most of the songs, although some of their best known songs were written by Bryan MacLean. One of the first racially diverse American bands, their music drew on a diverse range of sources including folk rock, hard rock, blues, jazz, flamenco and orchestral pop.[6]

Love in 1967
Background information
Also known asLove Revisited
OriginLos Angeles, California, U.S.
Years active
  • 1965 (1965)–1996 (1996)
  • 2002 (2002)–2005 (2005)
  • 2009 (2009)–present
Associated actsBaby Lemonade
  • Johnny Echols
  • Mike Randle
  • David Green
  • David Chapple
  • Rusty Squeezebox
Past membersSee members section

While finding only modest success on the music charts, Love would come to be praised by critics as one of the finest and most important American rock groups of all time. Their third album, Forever Changes (1967), is generally regarded as their masterpiece, included in the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry in 2011.




Arthur Lee, who was originally from Memphis, Tennessee, but had lived in Los Angeles since the age of five, had been recording since 1963 with his bands, the LAG's and Lee's American Four. He had written and also produced the single "My Diary" for Rosa Lee Brooks in 1964 which featured Jimi Hendrix on guitar.[7] A garage outfit, The Sons Of Adam, which included future Love drummer Michael Stuart, also recorded a Lee composition, "Feathered Fish". However, after viewing a performance by the Byrds, Lee became determined to form a group that joined the newly minted folk-rock sound of the Byrds to his primarily rhythm and blues style.[5] Singer, songwriter / guitarist Bryan MacLean, whom Lee had met when he was working as a roadie for The Byrds, joined the band just before they changed their name from the Grass Roots to Love, spurred by the release of a single by another group called The Grass Roots.[5] MacLean had also been playing guitar in bands since about 1963 but picked up music early. Neighbor Frederick Loewe, of the composers Lerner & Loewe, recognized him as a "melodic genius" at the age of three as he doodled on the piano. Also joining the band was another Memphis native, lead guitarist Johnny Echols, and from Los Angeles Don Conka was added on drums. A short time later, Conka was replaced by Alban "Snoopy" Pfisterer. Love's first bassist, Johnny Fleckenstein, went on to join the Standells in 1967. Fleckenstein was replaced by Ken Forssi (formerly of a post-"Wipe Out" lineup of The Surfaris).

Love started playing the Los Angeles clubs in April 1965 and became a popular local attraction. At this time, they were playing extended numbers such as "Revelation" (originally titled "John Lee Hooker") and getting the attention of such contemporaries as the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds. The band lived communally in a house called "the Castle" and their first two albums included photographs shot in the garden of that house.


Signed to the Elektra Records label as their first rock act, the band scored a minor hit single in 1966 with their version of Burt Bacharach and Hal David's "My Little Red Book". Their first album, Love, was released in March 1966. The album sold moderately well and reached No. 57 on the Billboard 200 chart.[5]

In August 1966 the single written by Arthur Lee "7 and 7 Is", notable for the exceptional guitar work of Johnny Echols and proto-punk styled drumming by Pfisterer, became their highest-charting single at No. 33 in the Billboard Hot 100.[5] Two more members were added around this time, Tjay Cantrelli (real name John Barbieri) on woodwinds and Michael Stuart on drums. Pfisterer, never a confident drummer, switched to harpsichord.

Their musical reputation largely rests on the next two albums, Da Capo and Forever Changes. Da Capo, released in November 1966, included "7 and 7 Is" as well as the subsequent singles "She Comes in Colors" and "¡Que Vida!" and MacLean's "Orange Skies". Cantrelli and Pfisterer soon left the band, leaving it as a five-piece once again.[5]

Forever Changes, released in November 1967 and recorded and co-produced by Bruce Botnick [8] is a suite of songs using acoustic guitars, strings, and horns that was recorded while the band was falling apart as the result of various substance abuse problems and tension between Arthur Lee and Bryan MacLean, who wanted more of his songs on the album. The band recorded the album in only 64 hours, though many professional session players were utilized, including some who replaced the actual band members in some songs. Writer Richard Meltzer, in his book The Aesthetics of Rock, commented on Love's "orchestral moves", "post-doper word contraction cuteness", and Lee's vocal style that serves as a "reaffirmation of Johnny Mathis". Forever Changes included one hit single, Bryan MacLean's "Alone Again Or", while "You Set the Scene" received airplay from some progressive rock radio stations. By this stage, Love were far more popular in the UK, where the album reached No. 24, than in their home country, where it could only reach No. 154.[5] More recently the album has received recognition as one of the greatest rock albums of all time, appearing on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time,[9] being inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and added to the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry in 2011.[10]


MacLean soon left the band, while Lee dismissed all the other members. MacLean later emerged as a Contemporary Christian artist. Echols and Forssi also experienced the ravages of drug addiction and disappeared from the scene. Echols eventually moved to New York and became a very busy studio musician. Arthur Lee, as the only remaining member, convened a new lineup and continued recording as Love.

The reconstituted version of Love, which included Jay Donnellan and then Gary Rowles on guitar, Frank Fayad on bass, and George Suranovich on drums, played in a blues rock style, as opposed to the folk-rock and psychedelic styles of the band's previous incarnation. The new line-up never garnered the widespread acceptance or acclaim of the original group. Three albums were released by various permutations of this lineup: Four Sail (1969), Out Here (1969), and False Start (1970).[5] The last featured a guest appearance by Jimi Hendrix. Another album by this incarnation of the band was recorded in 1971, but the material was not released until 2009 on the compilation album Love Lost. Arthur Lee released the solo album Vindicator in 1972. Another lost Love album titled Black Beauty was recorded by a new line-up in 1973, but Arthur Lee's record label closed shop before it was released. The album was released by High Moon Records in 2012. These sessions were followed by a final official Love album, Reel to Real (1974), which was recorded by Lee and session musicians. Love was finally discontinued in the late 1970s, and various plans to reunite the original Love in the following years did not come to fruition.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, there were various attempts to reunite the original Love lineup. At the suggestion of guitarist John Sterling who first joined Arthur for Reel To Real, one such show from the Whisky in October 1978 was recorded by Sterling on cassette. It featuring Lee and Bryan MacLean with Sterling on guitar, George Suranovich on drums and Kim Kesterson on bass and was released on Rhino as a live album picture disc entitled Love Live (1980) on Rhino Records.

In 1982 MCA released Studio/Live, which was a collection of tracks from the early 1970s incarnation of Love coordinated by rock lawyer/journalist Stann Findelle, including never before heard tracks recorded from Bill Graham's Fillmore East.

From 1975 through 1982, then again in 1987 and 1989 through 1991, Lee made various one/off appearances as Love with mostly pick up bands but was inactive for much of the 80s. On July 7, 1986 at Summerfest – Return of the 60's at Glen Helen Regional Park in San Bernardino County, California, one of the highlights of the first day was supposed to be a Love reunion with Lee and Bryan MacLean. But there were "problems" with Arthur at the last minute, so Bryan went ahead and did the show without him.

Lee re-emerged in 1992 with a new album entitled Arthur Lee & Love -{Five String Serenade} on the French New Rose label. The title track, "Five String Serenade", was later recorded by Mazzy Star and Jack White of The White Stripes. The album also featured a new artist he discovered from San Francisco, Keith Farrish aka Demian X Diamond. He performed live around this time in Paris, London and Liverpool at the behest of the Liverpool band Shack, who backed him up on these dates. In 1993 he played shows in LA, New York and England. The following year he released a 45rpm single, "Girl on Fire" backed with "Midnight Sun", on Distortions Records. He began to tour regularly with a backup band comprising former members of Das Damen, and LA group Baby Lemonade.

In 1995, Rhino Records released the compilation Love Story, a two-disc set with extensive liner notes which chronicled the period 1966–1972, and reignited interest in the band. In fact, the original Love planned to reform and tour in promotion of the compilation, but Arthur's legal troubles prevented this.


After spending six years in prison from 1995 to 2001 for firearms offenses, Lee began touring in earnest under the name "Love with Arthur Lee". This new phase of his career met with great success, and he performed to enthusiastic audiences and critical acclaim throughout Europe, North America and Australia. This incarnation of Love was composed of the members of the aforementioned band Baby Lemonade, who had first performed with Lee in May 1993 in Hollywood at a club called Raji's. The band began performing the Forever Changes album in its entirety, often with a string and horn section. A live CD and DVD of this material was released in 2003.

Nils Lofgren performing at the Beacon Theatre Benefit For Arthur Lee, June 23, 2006

Johnny Echols joined the new group for a special Forever Changes 35th Anniversary Tour performance at Royce Hall, UCLA, in the spring of 2003. Lee and the band continued to tour throughout 2003 and 2004, including many concerts in and around hometown Los Angeles, notably a show at the outdoor Sunset Junction festival, the San Diego Street Scene, and a headlining date with The Zombies at the Ebell Theatre. Echols joined Lee and the group on the continuing and final tours of 2004 to 2005. They played a well received date at the Fillmore in San Francisco with the full string and horn section.

Due to Arthur Lee's illness (acute myeloid leukemia), the details of which were not known by the band at the time, he could not participate in the final tour in July 2005. Since no one knew of his illness, Arthur's decision to forgo the final tour was met with confused reactions. The remaining members of the band, along with Echols, continued to perform at the venues of the last tour (July 2005) without Lee, under the name The Love Band.

At the end of September 2005, Lee moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where he planned to continue to make music using the name Love. Joining him was to be drummer Greg Roberson (Reigning Sound, Her Majesty's Buzz, Compulsive Gamblers) to put together a new lineup in Memphis, which was to include Adam Woodard, Alex Greene (The Reigning Sound, Big Ass Truck), Jack "Oblivian" Yarber, Alicja Trout, and Johnny Echols from the original Love line-up. Ultimately Arthur's ill health prevented this from happening.

On January 5, 1998 Ken Forssi died at age 54 of a suspected brain tumor in his home state of Florida. Bryan MacLean died in Los Angeles of a heart attack at age 52 on December 25, 1998 while having dinner with a young fan who was researching a book about Love. In 2002 Michael Stuart (now known as Michael Stuart-Ware), the drummer on the Love albums Da Capo and Forever Changes, wrote the acclaimed book Behind the Scenes on the Pegasus Carousel with the Legendary Rock Group Love. Stuart-Ware and Johnny Echols performed with Baby Lemonade at Hollywood's Whisky A Go-Go on June 28, 2006 in a benefit concert for Arthur Lee. But Lee died of his disease, acute myeloid leukemia, on August 3, 2006 in his home town of Memphis, Tennessee, at age 61.


In 2009, a reformed version of Love, featuring Johnny Echols, members of Baby Lemonade (Rusty Squeezebox, Mike Randle, David "Daddy O" Green, Dave Chapple), and Probyn Gregory of the Wondermints toured the United States and Canada. Echols, joined by Baby Lemonade, continues to tour as "Love Revisited", and Michael Stuart was listed as a member of this act for a time in 2009.

A compilation album titled Love Lost, featuring sessions for the unreleased 1971 album and other items recorded by the blues rock-oriented incarnation of the band, was released in 2009 by Sundazed Music. In 2013, Love's unreleased 1973 album Black Beauty was released by the new label High Moon Records.[11] Produced by Paul Rothchild, who worked on The Doors' first five albums, the R&B-infused album was meant to be the first record by a new line-up of Love after Lee had dismissed the blues rock-oriented line-up that had in turn replaced the original incarnation of the band. Arthur Lee's label had not gone bankrupt as some stories circulate but rather the label closed shop before the album was released, and the material had been shelved for nearly 40 years until the High Moon Records release.

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Love among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.[12] Billed as "The Love Band featuring Johnny Echols", the current band are undertaking what is credited as their final UK tour in June and July 2019.[13]


Today, the band's critical reputation exceeds the limited success they experienced during their time; their 1967 album Forever Changes is held in particularly high regard and often appears on lists of the best rock albums of all time.[14] The band's influence extends beyond the realm of 1960s psychedelia to such indie rock bands as Television Personalities and The Jesus and Mary Chain, whose William Reid wore a Love t-shirt in his band's video for "Head On" from their Automatic album. The Damned covered "Alone Again Or" on the album Anything, and the Swedish band The Hellacopters covered "A House Is Not A Motel". Yo La Tengo covered "A House Is Not a Motel" on their first album, Ride the Tiger, and as a b-side to their first single "The River of Water"; they also covered "Luci Baines" by Lee. Grant Hart covered "Signed D.C." on his All of My Senses EP.

Love have also influenced many 1960s-inspired Top 40 UK acts, including The Stone Roses, The Bluetones, Shack, The Stands, Primal Scream, and Ricky, whose mini-album You Set The Scene was named after a song on Forever Changes.[citation needed]

In tribute, Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant cites Forever Changes as one of his favorite albums ever.[15] Jim Morrison's 1967 personal biography for Elektra listed Love as one of his favorite bands. A tribute album We're All Normal and We Want Our Freedom - A Tribute to Arthur Lee and Love was released in July 1994.


Current members Love (Revisited) / The Love Band
  • Johnny Echols – lead guitar (1965–68, 2002–present)
  • Rusty Squeezebox – guitar, vocals (1994–present)
  • Mike Randle – guitar (1994–present)
  • David "Daddy O" Green – drums (1994–present)
  • David Chapple – bass guitar (1996–present)
Former members
  • Arthur Lee – songwriter, vocals, guitar, piano, percussion, harmonica (1965–75, 1978, 1982, 1992–2006; died 2006)
  • Bryan MacLean – songwriter, rhythm guitar, vocals (1965–68, 1978; died 1998)
  • Michael Stuart-Ware – drums (1966–68, special guest from 2009)
  • Jay Donnellan – lead guitar (1968–69, 1982)
  • Paul Martin – guitars (1969)
  • Gary Rowles – lead guitar (1969–71, 1982)
  • Nooney Rickett – guitars (1969–71)
  • Craig Tarwater – guitar (1971–1973)
  • Melvan Whittington – guitar (1973–1975; died 2015)
  • Tjay Cantrelli (born John Barberis) – woodwind (1966–67; died 1985)
  • Johnny "Fleck" Fleckenstein – bass guitar (1965–1966, died 2017[16])
  • Ken Forssi – bass guitar (1966–68; died 1998)
  • Frank Fayad – bass guitar, backing vocal (1968–73, 1982; died 2014)
  • Robert Rozelle – bass (1973–1975)
  • Don Conka – drums (1965; died 2004)
  • Alban "Snoopy" Pfisterer – drums, organ, harpsichord (1965–67)
  • Larry Pincock – drums (1965–1966; died 2012)
  • Drachen Theaker – drums (1968–69; died 1992)
  • George Suranovich – drums, backing vocal (1968–70, 1978, 1982; died 1990)
  • Don Poncher – drums (1971–1973)
  • Joe Blocker – drums (1973–1975)
  • Probyn Gregory – multiple instruments (2009)

classic lineup members are in bold



Further information on membersEdit

Don Conka

According to his bio on AllMusic, Conka does not appear on any Love recordings or any with Arthur Lee or other artists.[17] However, Conka appears on four recordings with Love members minus Arthur Lee, which were recorded at Goldstar Studios, Hollywood, California, in 1965. The band was backing up Vince Flaherty. The tracks were "Yes It's True", "Dead From You", "Moth Child", and "She".[18] Around the same period, and with some members of The Leaves, Conka also was on the recording "Vietnam" by Bobby Jameson.[19]

He has one credited role on the Arthur Lee & Love compilation album, Coming Through To You : The Live Recordings (1970–2004), on "Disc Four : A Fan's View" with Johnny Echols on the track "Smokestack Lightning ".[20][21]



  1. ^ Prince, Patrick (31 March 2011). "New label to release Love's 'Black Beauty'". Goldmine. Retrieved 17 September 2016.
  2. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "Love – Artist Biography". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved October 28, 2016.
  3. ^ Einarson, John (2001). Desperados: The Roots of Country Rock. Cooper Square Press. p. 8. ISBN 978-0-8154-1065-2.
  4. ^ SPIN Media LLC (October 2006). SPIN. SPIN Media LLC. p. 52. ISSN 0886-3032.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Strong, Martin C. (2000). The Great Rock Discography (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Mojo Books. pp. 585–586. ISBN 1-84195-017-3.
  6. ^ "Love > Charts & Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2008-06-09.
  7. ^ "''Rolling Stone Magazine''". Retrieved 2011-10-28.
  8. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "Bruce Botnick Interview". Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  9. ^ "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone (Special Issue). 40 | Forever Changes – Love. November 2003. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
  10. ^ "Love, Dead in National Recording Registry". Retrieved 23 May 2012.
  11. ^ "Love's Lost 1973 LP 'Black Beauty' to be Released in June". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  12. ^ Rosen, Jody (25 June 2019). "Here Are Hundreds More Artists Whose Tapes Were Destroyed in the UMG Fire". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  13. ^ Simon Godley, "Farewell UK Tour from The Love Band featuring Johnny Echols", GodIsInTheTV, 11 December 2018. Retrieved 5 July 2019
  14. ^ Jeff Weiss (8 November 2017). "Love's Forever Changes May Be the Greatest Album Ever Made in L.A."
  15. ^ Rolling Stone Magazine (May 5, 2005). "Q&A: Robert Plant". Retrieved 2009-04-19.
  16. ^ "Larry Tamblyn". Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  17. ^ All Music Don Conka, Artist Biography by Eugene Chadbourne
  18. ^ Torben Scott Vince Flaherty, Recorded at Goldstar Studios, Hollywood, CA (1965)
  19. ^ Night Flight, May 20, 2015 – Remembering “Mondo Hollywood”‘s Bobby Jameson By Bryan Thomas
  20. ^ Discogs Arthur Lee & Love – Coming Through To You : The Live Recordings (1970–2004)
  21. ^ Uncut, January 25, 2016 – Reviews, Arthur Lee & Love – Coming Through To You: The Live Recordings 1970 – 2004 – David Cavanagh

External linksEdit