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 Fuller Up, The Dead Musician Directory
 
Bryan MacLean
Heart Attack in Restaurant
Dec. 25, 1998
Age 52

OBITUARY 
BIOGRAPHY  
LINKS

 
 
 
 

OBITUARY 
        
       
      Love Guitarist/ Songwriter Bryan MacLean Dies

      Bryan MacLean, a guitarist and singer-songwriter in the seminal '60s rock act Love and the half-brother of former Lone Justice singer Maria McKee, died of an apparent heart attack on Christmas Day. He was 52. 

      Love was the first rock act signed to Elektra Records and inspired the Doors, who also emerged from the mid-'60s Sunset Strip club scene in Los Angeles. In fact, Jim Morrison has been quoted as saying that he initially hoped that the Doors could some day be as big as Love. 

      In the band, which mixed folk-rock with psychedelic sounds, MacLean's talents were often eclipsed by the group's singer-songwriter Arthur Lee, who wrote most of the group's songs, including its only top 40 hit, "7 And 7 Is." 

      It was MacLean, however, who penned "Alone Again Or," which is still one of the band's best-known songs. The song has been covered by such unlikely acts as hard-rockers UFO and old-school punks the Damned.  

      "Obviously Arthur Lee's songs were wonderful, but Bryan MacLean brought real magic to the group. He was like the McCartney to Lee's Lennon," said Kevin Delaney, a 23-year-old Pittsburgh native who moved to Los Angeles earlier this year to write a definitive history of the band, tentatively titled Between Clark And Hilldale: The Oral History Of Arthur Lee, Bryan MacLean And Love. "He brought the real sweetness, melodicism and professionalism to the group." 

      Delaney not only interviewed MacLean extensively, he became a close friend of the musician. He was with MacLean at a Los Angeles-area restaurant when the musician suffered the apparent heart attack and died. 

      "We spent the day together on Christmas and we had a great day," Delaney told myLAUNCH.  "He was his happy, profound, usual self and then suddenly he died. I'm assuming it was a heart attack." 

      Following the release of Love's third album, Forever Changes, which my LAUNCH critic Dave DiMartino has called "an absolute masterwork [and] a priceless relic of the '60s," McLean left the group. Solo material recorded for Elektra and Capitol after his departure from Love was not released, and MacLean opted to quit the music business in 1970. 

      Although he rejoined Lee in a reconstituted version of Love for some live shows in the late '70s, MacLean found his greatest prominence as a songwriter, penning "Don't Toss Us Away" for Lone Justice, a band that was fronted by half-sister McKee. Lone Justice struck a chord with critics, but was not a commercial success. However, the song became a top country hit for singer Patty Loveless in 1989. 

      In 1997, Sundazed released a solo album by MacLean, who had become a born-again Christian. The collection, titled Ifyoubelievein, consisted of demos recorded during 1966-67 when he was still a member of Love, as well as some material recorded in the '70s. 

      More recently, MacLean recorded a Spanish-language version of "Alone Again Or" for a compilation album, Delaney said. "Bryan was planning to go into the studio and record some more songs from the '60s that people have never heard before," the author said. MacLean was also planning to record an album of "worship songs," which Delaney describes as "Enya meets contemporary Christian music." 

      "It's funny, because in the last year of his life, he had gotten back in touch with his former bandmates and people he hadn't seen in a long time. It was very exciting not only to witness it, but help facilitate it," Delaney said. 

      My Launch
       
       
      Bryan MacLean, singer and guitarist, died on Christmas Day after a heart attack, aged 52.
      He was born in Los Angeles on September 25, 1946. 
       
       

        BRYAN MACLEAN was a member of the 1960s group Love, for whom he wrote Alone Again Or, one of the most enduring and evocative songs of the era. The  band's  truly creative period, under the leadership of the unpredictable Arthur Lee, was brief, curtailed by an unhealthy appetite for hard drugs. Yet by the time Love disintegrated they had recorded some unforgettable music  and one classic, Forever Changes (1967), a record which continues to appear prominently in polls of the best albums of all time.  

        Within a year of producing their masterwork, the original band had fallen apart, and by 1970 MacLean had left the music business and found religion. He later re-emerged as a writer of Christian music, but he will always be remembered for his part in the soundtrack of that distant "summer of love" with which his group shared a name.  

        MacLean came from a wealthy home in the Hollywood Hills, where the composer Frederick Loewe, the writer of My Fair Lady, was a neighbour. He declared the boy a prodigy at the age of three, and MacLean grew up steeped in musicals rather than rock'n'roll. Liza Minnelli was an early girlfriend, and the two would sit at the piano together playing show tunes.  

        Yet by the early 1960s the Beatles had made the guitar irresistible and MacLean left high school to become a roadie for the Byrds. In 1965 he failed an audition to join the Monkees, when he was one of 437 hopefuls who replied to an advert in the Hollywood Reporter, but he soon joined forces with the maverick Lee in a band called the Grass Roots.  

        Most American groups of the time gravitated to San Francisco, but after changing their name to Love, the LA-based band built a reputation playing the clubs on Sunset Strip. A residency at Bido Lito's brought them to the attention of Jac Holzman, head of the Elektra label, home already to such folk artists as Judy Collins and Tom Paxton. Holzman was looking to break into the rock market, and Love became the first band he signed. The Doors were the second.  

        In 1966 and 1967, Love made three impressive albums, clearly influenced by the Byrds and the Beatles but with an interesting psychedelic strangeness all their own. Although Arthur Lee was the main writer, MacLean contributed some fine songs, including Orange Skies, Old Man and the haunting Alone Again Or, with its flamenco-style guitar and dramatic trumpet flourishes.  

        Unfortunately a combination of the drugs and Lee's unstable personality was rendering the band increasingly dysfunctional. There were lurid tales of group members robbing doughnut stands to support their drug addiction. "Their name should be Hate rather than Love," remarked 
      Peter Albin, of the San Francisco band Big Brother and 
      the Holding Company.  

        By 1968 Love had splintered, leaving Lee the sole original member. "At least two of them were irrepressibly hooked on heroin. I felt I needed to get out while the going was  good," MacLean later said. Two of the group's members  - Ken Forssi and John Echols - were soon serving prison sentences, but MacLean was also addicted. He secured a solo deal with Elektra, but abandoned music and became a born-again Christian. The turning point, he explained, was sitting in a New York bar and feeling his drink "turn to sand" in his mouth.  

        He returned to live with his parents in Los Angeles, did 
      various manual jobs and obtained a real estate licence. 
      But a Christian fellowship called the Vineyard was taking 
      up increasing amounts of his time. He started singing at 
      Friday night Bible classes, opened a Christian nightclub on Rodeo Drive called the Daisy, and served ten years in the ministry. He also began writing songs again, including several hits for country-tinged performers such as Debby Boone and Patty Loveless.  

        There were various attempts to re-form Love, which were hampered by arguments over past royalties and soured relations between MacLean and Lee, who is currently serving a 12-year sentence for firearms offences.  

        MacLean briefly led a band bearing his own name in the early 1980s which included his half-sister Maria McKee, but when she formed the critically acclaimed Lone Justice he was invited to contribute only as a writer.  

        In recent years there has been more interest than ever in the work of Love and its former members.  Ifyoubelievein, released in 1997, was a collection of original MacLean demos and home recordings from the 1960s; Alone Again Or has recently been used in an American beer commercial; and at least two books about Love are in the pipeline. At the time of his death MacLean was working on what he called an album of "worship music".  

      MacLean is the second original member of Love to die within a year, after Forssi's death from cancer last January. He never married and is survived by his mother and a half-sister.  

      London Times
       
 
Former Love Guitarist Bryan MacLean Dies 
                                  
  Bryan MacLean, co-founder and guitarist for the
  psychedelic Los Angeles-based band Love in the late 
  '60s, died Christmas day while at a Los Angeles 
  restaurant. Variety reports that the cause of death was 
  an apparent heart attack. He was 52 years old.  

  MacLean, who worked as a roadie for the Byrds prior to 
  joining Love, left the popular cult band in 1968 after 
  recording Forever Changes, an album that featured his 
  composition "Alone Again Or," a song covered by UFO 
  and the Damned. After his departure, he embarked on 
  a brief solo career, then fronted the Bryan MacLean 
  Band in the '70s. He and Love singer Arthur Lee 
  reunited in the late '70s to play in Los Angeles.  

  MacLean' half-sister, Maria McKee, sometimes 
  appeared with her brother's namesake band before she 
  went on to front the country-flavored Lone Justice in the 
  '80s. Lone Justice covered MacLean's song "Don't 
  Toss Us Away," which went on to be a top-10 country 
  hit for singer Patty Loveless in 1988.  
 

Wall of Sound
 
  
 

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BIOGRAPHY
 
 
Love
 
For many, the doyens of Los Angeles progressive rock in the '60s, brilliantly erratic and producers of one of the finest rock albums ever made: FOREVER CHANGES.  

Love were formed in 1965 as the Grass Roots by Bryan Maclean (b. 1947 Los Angeles, California, USA; guitar/vocals), Arthur Lee (b. 1945, Memphis, Tennessee, USA; guitar/vocals), John Echols (b. 1945, Memphis, Tennessee, USA; lead guitar). Don Conka (drums) and Johnny Fleckenstein were soon replaced by Alban "Snoopy" Pfisterer (b. 1947, Switzerland) and Ken Forssi (b. 1943, Cleveland, Ohio, USA).  

They become the first rock band to be signed by the expanding Elektra Records, just beating the Doors by a whisker. Their debut single was Burt Bacharach and Hal David's My Little Red Book, in a different form from the way the writers imagined it. Love were an instant sensation on the LA club scene, outrageous, loud, innovative and stoned. The furiously energetic 7 And 7 Is was released in the summer of 1966 and became their second hit. Although The Castle on DA CAPO pointed to a new direction it was FOREVER CHANGES that put them in the history books.  

That album, 25 years later, is still found on most critics' recommended list and no comprehensive record collection should be without it. It is a superlative record, unassumingly brilliant, gentle, biting and full of surprises. It proved to be Arthur Lee's finest work and marked the end of the partnership with Bryan Maclean

A new Love featuring Lee, Frank Fayad (bass), Jay Donnellan (guitar) and the drumming pyrotechnics of George Suranovitch, proved to be the most stable line-up and lasted for two albums. Both records contained rare glimpses of FOREVER CHANGES, but ultimately they were bitter disappointments. FALSE START featured few memorable moments, one being a guitar solo from Jimi Hendrix. 

REEL TO REAL is a truly wretched affair. The long-held opinion that Arthur Lee had become a casualty of too many chemicals was strengthened throughout the '70s, '80s and '90s with various stories chronicling his erratic and eccentric behaviour. Many attempts to resurrect his career have faltered, although there are hopeful signs that his comeback started in 1992 will be more lasting. 

 
 
Music Central '96
  
 
 

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 LINKS
  
  • A Loving Danish Love Tribute (eng.)
  • Wilson and Alroy's Love record Review
  • LOVE
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      Dear Friends:

          Bryan MacLean died on December 25th, apparently of a heart attack.

          The last few days have have been very emotional and hectic for myself and Bryan's
    family and friends, and I know what a shock this news is to anyone who knew Bryan
    personally or from his music.

          There will not be a funeral, but there will be a memorial service here in Los Angeles.
    I have no word yet on when it might be, but it will probably be some time in the new year.

          If you would like to send a card to Bryan's mother, Elizabeth McKee, you may send
    it care of me and I will make sure that she gets it.
     

          Kevin

          Kevin Delaney
          515 N. Larchmont Boulevard 
          Los Angeles, California 90004

    E-mail:  kevindelaney@hotmail.com