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Remembering Arthur Lee: “Your Mind and We Belong Together”, LOVE’s 1968 promo film
Night Flight is remembering Arthur Lee today, on the anniversary of his passing — he died on August 3, 2006, after losing a hard-fought battle to acute lymphoblastic leukemia; he was born March 7, 1945, in Memphis, Tennessee — so we thought we would look back at a rarely-seen 1968 promotion film.
We first saw this on a VHS tape when it was included in the EPK (electronic press kit) that was sent out to music journalists during the 1995 promotion leading up to the release date of Rhino’s Love Story, a 2-CD compilation. This promo clip was directed by Mark Abramson, who had co-produced the band’s debut album.
Drummer Michael Stuart-Ware — who appears on two of the band’s albums — has a book, Love: Behind the Scenes: On the Pegasus Carousel with the Legendary Rock Group Love, and remembers that the filming took place shortly after the band returned to L.A. after playing in Miami, Florida. He kindly provided us with the following excerpt (slightly edited) for Night Flight’s readers:
The morning after we arrived back in L.A., Arthur called me. “Hey, Michael, while you guys were in Miami, I was contacted by the U.C.L.A. film department. They want to do a documentary on the group. The dude I talked to said, to compensate us for our cooperation, we would have access to any part of the completed project to use for promotion, or whatever, as long as we give the film school credit for the production. Anyhow, they want to get started right away, so let’s meet here at my house at noon tomorrow. Tell Kenny, O.K.? I’ll call Bryan and Johnny.” We hung up.
Sounded like a pretty good deal, and it was coming at a good time. Before we had left L.A. to do the East Coast tour, around late January or early February of 1968, we had recorded two songs, ‘Laughing Stock’ and ‘Your Mind And We Belong Together’.
Elektra had planned to release them as a single and I figured the group might be able to use the film to promote the new record. TV spots or something. The film school had learned that Arthur’s pad had been the location for the Fonda-Hopper flick, The Trip, and they told Arthur it was their plan to use it as a setting for some of this film, as well.
Fact was, it was a cinemagraphically convenient place to shoot because there were no other houses within eyesight or earshot.
Promptly at 11:55 a.m. the next day, Kenny and I left our house and made the short drive up Kirkwood, along the single-lane, blind-curve dirt road that dead-ended into Arthur’s driveway. The last hundred yards or so, Bryan and Johnny were right behind us, both cars arriving at Arthur’s house precisely at noon. A large station wagon was parked in front. As our cars came to a stop in the driveway, the two occupants got out and approached us. They had long hair and wore blue jeans and plaid flannel shirts and tennis shoes. They looked a lot like college students, actually. The dude leading the way extended his hand to introduce himself.
“Hi, guys! I’m Tim and this is David,” he added, jerking his thumb in the direction of his trailing partner. “We’ll be filming the first segment of the project today, then some other crew members’ll finish up, hopefully before Friday. We have light reflectors and stands to set up yet but, otherwise, we’re all ready to go. Our cameras are in the car and loaded. By the way, we knocked on the door when we got here, maybe around a quarter to twelve. Arthur’s not home yet, I guess, huh?”
I checked the carport. Sure enough, no Porsche. So, Bryan and Johnny and Kenny and I, and the two film crew guys, stood around out front while they gave us a rundown on what they felt would be a good basic format for the project, camera angles, stuff like that.
As we talked, I couldn’t help but think, “This is probably a complete waste of time. Whatever we decide, Arthur’s just gonna veto it when he gets here and make them do it the way he wants it done.” But I suppose it was a good way to get to know the film crew guys, and it helped to pass the time while we waited.
In a few minutes, Arthur’s Porsche came around the corner and pulled into the carport.
“What’s happenin’?” he asked through the driver’s side window. Then he shut off the engine, got out and walked over to where we were standing.
“Hey, man, I’m Arthur.” He shook hands with the film guys, and then everybody hung around outside for a few minutes, while Tim and Dave discussed the stuff they had in mind for that day’s shooting. Finally, Arthur turned and began to mount the porch steps, signalling us to follow. “Let’s go inside and talk where we can sit down.” He placed his hand on the doorknob, looked down, paused and withdrew it. Then, glancing briefly back at us, he pressed his fingertips against the door and pushed. It swung open.
As we all stood on the porch, his brow furrowed: “Did one of you motherfuckers go into my house while I was gone?”
Tim hesitantly raised his index finger, “Actually, when David and I first got here we knocked on the door and it wasn’t closed all the way, so it opened when I knocked, and we came on in and, sort of like, called for you. But when we realized you weren’t home, we went on back outside and waited in the car.”
Arthur walked in, looking around, suspiciously, “Well, I’ll tell you man, that was a pretty dangerous thing to do, because if I had been here and I heard somebody come into my pad, uninvited, I would have gone for my gun. You think it’s all right to just go walking into a man’s house, like that? Are you guys fuckin’ crazy? You’re lucky to still be alive! You know that?”
He was getting all lathered up. Tim and David glanced nervously at one another, probably wondering how far and how long this might go.
“I’ll tell you something else,” he continued, “I’m gonna stop right now, before we go any further, and check things out. Just to make sure nothing’s missing, you know what I mean? You guys go ahead and sit down. I’ll be right with you.”
Arthur began to wander through the room, lifting things, opening drawers and examining the contents to see if anything was missing or broken or vandalized. An uncomfortable few minutes for everybody, to say the least.
Suddenly he discovered what he was looking for. “Now, you see?” He pointed at the kitchen counter. “That’s exactly what I’m talking about. I definitely left a twenty-dollar bill sitting right there, and now it’s gone. Did one of you guys take it?” He wiggled his finger at Tim and David. They shook their heads innocently.
Arthur looked askance in the direction of two strangers, “I don’t know. Maybe you did, maybe you didn’t. I’m not accusing you or anything, all I know is, the twenty was here and you two were in my house and nobody else was here, and now it’s gone.”
He was starting to run down, a little. “Well, I guess it’s too late to worry about it anymore today so,” he threw up his hands and took a deep breath, “let’s get started on this film thing, O.K.?”
Oh, O.K. After leading these two respectable and well-educated dudes through a fifteen-minute labyrinth of humiliation, designed to cut them down to size, Arthur figured his point had been made and it was time to move on. Not that easy, though. Now, there was this enormous wall between us. They appeared shaken and a little scared. Tim and David had arrived expecting to complete the first day of filming on a project which was to be a well- coordinated, imaginative, joint creation between the U.C.L.A. film school and LOVE. Something enjoyable. Now, they were just looking to survive.
“Well, Arthur,” Tim began, bravely, “David and I thought we might start with some outside stuff. The light’s pretty good right now.” But he was hesitant. Now you could hear, by the tone of voice, that his priority was not to successfully create something special, but to not get hollered at, again. To avoid any further conflict, at all cost, was his new goal.
“Of course, it doesn’t really matter where we start, you know? The film’ll be edited later, so scenes can be rearranged into whatever you think the proper order should be. So, if you had rather we started with some interviews in here, we can do that.”
This was kinda bad. The mood had already shifted from “Let’s work hard and have fun and create something special together that’ll blow the audience’s minds” to “Tell us what you want us to do, Arthur, just don’t get mad and yell at us anymore, O.K.?”
“No, that’s cool,” Arthur politely acquiesced, “we can start outside, if you guys want to.”
David and Tim picked up their cameras and we all headed back out front to patch up the heavy atmosphere as best we could and get on with the job of making the film. I can’t remember very much about the content or the direction of what we tried to accomplish that day, except there was some running around and hiding behind rocks and other inappropriate stuff that didn’t fit the character of the relationship we had with one another, at all. Actually, I think Tim and David had seen a few too many episodes of The Monkees because they tried to implement that feel onto this first segment. You know, “Gosh, we’re having fun. This band thing is a blast!” I don’t think it came across though.
I’m pretty sure nobody in the room had believed that “missing twenty- dollar bill” story Arthur made up, either. It was as if, in the middle of getting all excited about Tim and David coming in his house, Arthur realized, “Hey, I can really drive the point home a little more effectively if I pretend something is missing. Then, they’ll realize what a big mistake they made, barging in here, like that.” So, he devised that crock of shit about the twenty. It was his version of an object lesson. So obvious.
After a few hours, David said, “Well, hey, guys, that’s a pretty good start. I know we got some great footage.” He and Tim began packing up their equipment and loading it into the station wagon.
“We’re gonna take this back to the lab and develop it, go over what we have, then we’ll get back to you and set up a time and date to do the remaining segments, O.K.? We feel it’s gonna be a tremendous film. It was nice working with you guys today.”
Then, they left. They never called back, of course.
We asked lead guitarist Johnny Echols what he remembered about the day this promo film was shot, but he only had this to add:
“Mark Abramson brought these people over to do a video and Arthur drove everyone’s cars… the Black Jaguar E-type was mine, the Porsche was Arthur’s. We spent several hours filming so there must be several hours of us clowning around out there somewhere!“