One Of A Kind
October 9, 2007
The other day I was thinking about the early days when we first started to play with Arthur. See, early on it was definitely a struggle and we really didn’t get much help, outside of a few gigs Mark Linn booked, and even some of those were with Das Damen backing Arthur on the east coast due to costs. And the money was sh*t. And we were all broke. And we had crap equipment. But those shows were magical. Anyone who saw us at Raji’s or Coconut Teazer would tell you those shows were as punk as you could imagined.
One thing that really blew my mind was how Arthur Lee would get on stage – and it didn’t matter how many people were there, and it usually weren’t too many – Arthur would damn near set the stage on fire. You didn’t want to follow us. He performed in a way that allowed Love’s music to flow through each and every blood vessel and that stage was where he lived. Everything else in life was just passing time until we played again. As his band, all we could do was play our best and also take his direction in how he wanted us to do it. We had bigger ideas for the group and certainly wanted to shoot higher but of course we didn’t have the connections or the resources. The guy who did was Gene Kraut.
Where others could only get you a few scraps here and there and pretty much paid lip service to Arthur, Gene challenged us, stood up to us (and Arthur!), and saw the very big picture, which we wanted all along. He help open that door to us and it goes without saying there would have been a very long struggle without his help, as no one wanted to help us. For instance, in 1996, I wrote every music mag in the UK asking for help in broadcasting that Arthur was just sentenced to 12 years in jail. No one helped. I did receive 1 call from John Black from Mojo but he just wanted me to put him in touch with Arthur so he could interview him. Of course, once Gene got everyone on board the band wagon was stuffed to the rim. But that’s how it works I suppose.
But those early days said it all. Back then, Arthur used to say, “1 person or 1 million, it’s all the same. If you can convince 1 body you can convinced everybody.” And before and after each gig Arthur would sit in his black lincoln townhouse and listen to demo tapes of songs he’d written. It was always the music first. Always. Even once we started to tour doing Forever Changes and the earnings were obviously much better, Arthur never cut corners and at one point told Gene he’d take a pay cut if that meant he could have strings and horns. There was a passion there that’s hard to put into words but if I could say anything to anyone starting a band or already in one, have the passion and never ever compromise your integrity. The payback is ten fold.