Back in the fabulous, great time to be alive 60s, I was a Go Go dancing teenager who had two favorite local bands: LOVE and The Doors.
Sure I was dancing for dozens of bands and did their clips, shows, TV and film appearances, but LOVE was my number one, top, local band.
Problem was that they were so popular back in the day that it was hard to get into a show. I stuck mostly to the area around my homebase, which was The Hullabaloo and tried to get into Bido Lito’s in Hollywood as it was the closest to The Hullabaloo. Never made it into the actual club and would be standing around outside listening, grooving and socializing.
That all changed on June 2 at Upstairs @ The Federal where I was third in line to get into The LOVE Band’s appearance. Although this incarnation of this legendary act does not include Arthur Lee who passed away, the singing and artful guitar work brought me back to Bido Lito’s club and I was dancing in the streets. Crisp, clear and faithful to the original music and lyrics shot me through a time warp that could barely tell the difference.
According to Pollstar friend and features editor Debbie Speer, this show was the place to be as several people in the audience were journalists and publicists that were also fans. The standing room-only, packed show stands as a testament to the enduring musical genius of LOVE.
LOVE man Johnny Echols’ “old lady” Georgianna Steele Waller sat with my new friend Jolene Firgens and I during the show, which was a treat. I’ve known Echols and Waller for several years now and it is one of my life’s treasures that I am an actual acquaintance of LOVE co-founder Johnny Echols. But, up until June 2, I had never heard any version of LOVE in person.
While sitting there listening to the band, a fan of Waller’s came over and asked for her autograph on a copy of Waller’s book “In My Life So Far…” This really impressed me as when we do our annual Love-In reunions each summer this has never happened. Guess that there is a big difference between old hippies hanging out together at Griffith Park and a gig at a major happening spot in the NoHo Arts District.
The set list consisted of LOVE’s first three albums: “LOVE,” “Da Capo” and “Forever Changes.” I almost cried hearing “Alone Again Or,” which has always been music’s best love song ever. The band did an excellent job of replicating the song to a point that it really got to me.
In a recent podcast with Paint The Town hosted by friends James Shen and Teachr, I was introduced as “The Face” of the NoHo Arts District so as “The Face” of the NoHo Arts District it was my distinct pleasure to host my favorite local band…LOVE. When I said this to Waller at the show, she told me that “We have always thought of you as that.” This put me on a whole other cloud.
I’ve always been saddened by the fact that LOVE never went as huge as their friends The Doors. Some say that LOVE’s failure to tour is what took them out of the major touring contingency which in turn shut them out of their record label’s publicity deptartment. Depending on who you speak to, the reasons for this “no touring” mentality range from Lee’s “stage fright” to a “fear of raising racial tensions at the time because they were a racially mixed band.” Unfortunately, this has paved the way to an impression of obscurity which couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Sadly, the recent film release “Echo From The Canyon” missed a great opportunity by opting to not include Echols in the rockumentary. Echols played a large role in the “happenings” on Laurel Canyon back in the day and was selected by the people that put together the yearly “Love Fest” in 2018 to play at the ceremony to rename the street by The Doors’ front man’s Laurel Canyon home “Love Street” after the song “She Lives on Love Street.”
Thank goodness Channel 7’s Tina Malave included Echols in her Laurel Canyon segment that she researched, wrote and produced for her show “Eye On LA.” This segment is a very well put together story and according to Malave was a “Work of love.”
More on “Echo In The Canyon” in July which will include the explanation as to why LOVE was omitted by Jayson Dylan and Andrew Slater.
As luck would have it, I ended up with a guitar pick tossed out into the audience and gifted to me by Waller as it had fallen into her lap.
Many thanks to the Mimosa Music Series that had the good sense to put this event together. And $15 for a bottomless mimosas is not a bad deal at all. If you want to see me actually dance instead of gyrating in a chair, then give me more room LOL.
The LOVE Band featuring Johnny Echols will be embarking on “The Farewell UK Tour” for June and July. They have also put Spain on their tour. Their shows will feature music from the albums “LOVE,” “Da Capo” and “Forever Changes.” Hopefully, the set list will be the same as the Upstairs @ The Federal show which included “Alone Again Or,” as I’ve already stated is the best love song ever…in my opinion. After decades of love songs being written it still showcases the genius of LOVE and has not been replaced by any love song du jour. For my UK readers and those in Spain, don’t pass up an opportunity to enjoy the masterpieces that this seminal band has crafted and still stand up to and above anything that is released today.
Johnny Echols and Georgianna Steele Waller…who loves you baby!?