Love evolved out of folk-rock group the Grass Roots and by late 1965 were building a reputation for their dynamic live shows around the Sunset Strip and at Bido Lito’s in Hollywood. They were the first rock group to be signed by Jac Holzman’s folk label, Elektra.
Original guitarist Johnny Echols was a childhood friend from Memphis and Lee was proud to have formed rock’s first mixed-race band. “I lived in Tennessee until I was five years old, and it was segregated,” said Lee. “A multiracial band was my thought from the beginning.”
Adam Sweeting, The Guardian
Arthur Lee and Jimi Hendrix, 1969
Jimi Hendrix and Arthur Lee met in 1964 or 1965 at Gold Star Studios in Los Angeles, where singer Rosa Lee Brooks was recording Lee’s song “My Diary.” Lee claimed the session was Hendrix’s first time in a recording studio, though it seems likely Hendrix had already cut “Testify” with the Isley Brothers.
From documentary Love Story, Lee talks about his history with Hendrix and his influence on the guitarist’s dress style:
“His brother told me that Jimi Hendrix took a look at my first album and said, “I think I’ll try it this way.” He stole my dress attire, mate, and I don’t appreciate that shit, but [laughs] I can’t play the guitar like him at all.”