The pantheon of performers known by but one name is full of superstars. Arthur–the nom de plume of singer-songwriter Arthur Lee Harper–is not one of them, but this gentle singer-songwriter and his wan, string-drenched, loved-up, psych-folk was probably never likely to be suitable for mass consumption.
Though his lonely, intimate music, shy demeanor, and stutter might not have suggested a man of great ambition, Arthur moved to Hollywood chasing the music industry dream. He suffered hardships to do so, living hand-to-mouth in a YMCA hostel with two like-minded individuals: Mark Lindsey Buckingham and Stephen John Kalinich, whose A World Of Peace Must Come has been reissued by Light In The Attic. “Arthur was a peace person. He was all about peace, love, and harmony,” remembers Kalinich. “He was a person that believed you could change the world. We thought we would be some of the ones to usher in peace.” While Kalinich and Buckingham were signed by the Beach Boys’ Brother Records, the Melbourne, Florida-born Arthur found a home, a producer, and a champion in Lee Hazlewood and his LHI imprint. Hazlewood described him as, “A man who will someday be a child again… A reason to cry and be unafraid… A bird with eighth-notes for wings.”
After two albums with LHI, Arthur bowed out of the business, immersing himself in Christianity, family, and a career working first as a rocket engineer and, latterly, a teacher. “I never stopped writing or recording,” he later said. “I recorded in studios, friends’ houses, and live. I just recorded music with my friends or by myself when I felt inspired. For me, singing and songwriting is like breathing; I just do it.” On January 10th, 2002, Arthur’s wife Lora died in a car crash. He tragically passed away of a heart attack the same night.
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