Tuesday 9 September 2008

Arthur Lee and Me

Johnny Echols and Ken Forssi on the cover of the Love comic

It was my ambition for a while to write a semi-fictional biography of Arthur Lee and his piebald psychedelicates - Love. For many years these one time inhabitants of Bela Lugosi's castle existed beyond factual history in a kind of dark mythos. The torch wielding mob had passed around rumours and the only people listening were fried. The only truth was to be found on the records and Arthur sounded like he might just have the truth

I discovered Love in the late Eighties and the only information I could find about them was in their lyrics and the pictures on the record sleeves (remember those days?). I found an article about them in a self published magazine called Freak Beat by a guy called Bissmire. This is where the strange image I already had of black psychedelic singers and mariachi bands and ruined castles and people painted brown living on the moon got weirder with tales of murder and band members robbing doughnut stands. Mr Bissmire sent me everything he had on the band and I set about filling in the blanks...

In my mind the story was like a spaghetti western with the paranoid musicians holed up in a ruined castle - Lee with hair straighteners in, chickens and semi naked people everywhere, Johnny Echols watching the windows with a shotgun, so I wrote it as a semi fictional account. Later, in the 90s that became a comic book idea. I just felt I wanted to fill in some of the gaps. I notice Richard Dawkins has recently claimed that gaps in knowledge are a refuge for woolly thinkers and fantasists, personally I think that the God of the gaps is the imagination and without it there would be no art or science.

Anyway that was then... things changed for the better for the lost souls of Love. They reformed, started gigging, got all the credit they had deserved for so long and hopefully got a piece of happiness. Also the real story of Love emerged, proper books were published and now there's even a film. The band have come out of that dark web of myths and obscurity and into the light. They deserve it!

When I dug out these couple of images the other day I did wonder what the point of them or the project was now. I guess they're just a reminder of a time before the information age when the gaps we were left to fill were in some cases total chasms.

Pencils for a panel of Johnny Echols and Arthur Lee 

There's a promo for the Love film here.  I'll be getting the DVD and finally getting to find out what went on. Can't wait! 

(23/09/08) I have the DVD now, the director was kind enough to send me a feebie in return for use of the Love comic cover image. I think he's had it framed for his wall. He also told me that he and Arthur Lee walked along the strip where the Donut Stand was and Arthur mentioned something about the legendary bandit days of his guitarists, but refused to elaborate any further. Some things are best left as rumour and myth.

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