Johnny Echols was born in Memphis, Tennesse and re-located in Los Angeles at an early age. He collaborated with Arthur Lee and LOVE as well as other groups.
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After playing at the "Brave New World" for what seemed a lifetime, we (reluctantly) decided it was time, we moved onward and upward!
The group accepted a job at Bido litos, which was an acronym for [Bill Dorothy, Linda and Tommy.] Tommy Thompson, the son and "braintrust" of the family that owned the club, had made the Grassroots an offer, we "couldn't" refuse. Since we would be the first group, to play there, we would have the opportunity, to design the stage and sound system, as a "showcase" for us.
It became readily apparent, that our move to the new club, would present the "perfect" time and space, for us to find a new name, and soon after we began playing at Bido litos "serendipity" stepped up and smiled on us.
Bryan, Arthur and I were Driving along Beverly Blvd. when we noticed a Huge billboard, for "Luv brassieres"; I mentioned to Bryan, that Arthur had once worked there, After he had finished laughing and "kidding" Arthur about it, Bryan said that "the Luv" would be a great name for our group! Arthur replied, that he was thinking the same thing, only spelled L.O.V.E. I joined-in (in complete agreement) but added, it should be "LOVE" with no [the] in front!
We were (all) elated, at how everything had fallen into place, "out of the blue and just like that," the decision was made, right then and there; now and forever we would be known as "LOVE" and that's exactly how the "Grassroots" got their new name!
After playing at Bido litos for a couple of weeks, we decided to allow the "crowd" to participate in the selection (even though the decision, was already "etched" in stone). Arthur gave them the names we were "considering" and without hesitation "LOVE" was the overwhelming favorite!
The choices were "Summers Children" "The Asylum Choir" "The Domino Effect" "The Coalition" and a few others, but we were (all) in complete agreement, that "LOVE" was the One! The next time we played Bido litos, was on a Saturday night. When the group was introduced, for the first time (anywhere) as "LOVE" the response was fantastic, the place was packed. Both the LA Times and LA Freepress had sent reporters, to find out what all the commotion was about.
They "found out" and in turn told the rest of Los Angeles, that in a place known as "Cosmo's Alley" (where the club was located) a group called "LOVE" had arrived!
Night after night, we played and the crowd responded, it was an experience, that is almost impossible to describe, unless you were there and a part of it!
Because of a dearth, of factual information pertaining to the group, what few "tidbits" that were available, have largely become
While the counterintuitive, illogical and patently ridiculous mythology, that swirled around this group with an almost religious intensity: may have helped, to cultivate, a rather bizarre and "darkly romantic" cult status. The fact remains, that no matter how talented, dedicated and well-schooled the "alchemist" is, he cannot transmute "bulls**t into reality!
After much reflection, I have decided, to at least "attempt" to set the record straight, (hence my tales, from the trenches) not only am I responding from the perspective of one who was there, through every step of the journey and blessed with a "pretty decent" memory. I also bring an added bonus, a kind of "ace in the hole." I had the habit, which continues to this day, of putting it down on paper, resulting in a written journal, detailing the life and times of a group called "LOVE"!
That old aphorism "Truth is stranger, than fiction" could have easily, been written about this group, however it should be noted, that truth, (in this case) is a hell of a lot more interesting as well!
When Arthur and I made the difficult decision, too replace Bobby Beausoleil with Bryan Maclean, we had absolutely no conception of the events that were about to unfold, as a result of that action, just as a butterfly "flitting" from flower to flower in Sierra Leone, could not possibly conceive, that the fluttering of its wings could put into motion the "seeds" of the hurricane that would eventually decimate the city of New Orleans.
As I've said before, the both of us did a lot of soul searching, before concluding that of the two, Bryan was the better fit. He had a kind of "Star" quality that was evident, too any and all. Normally replacing a musician, would not have provoked such a quandary (we've had to make such moves, dozens of times as a necessary part of putting together a successful group) but over the several months, that we played together, we had developed a genuine fondness for Bobby, plus___his playing added a (raw) bluesy quality, too the mix.
Bobby was very personable, sort of a "gadabout" he knew everybody and everybody knew him, I think that's what caused Charles Manson to take notice of and befriend him.
Being that Bobby knew so many people, he would prove to be the ideal person, to introduce "Charlie" to many of the people who would eventually become his "family," Bobby was also very young and naive, thus easily manipulated by the older and more "streetwise" Manson.
The word if, is one of the "shortest" words in the English language, yet at the same time one of the "longest" in terms of potential consequences!
I've pondered this question many times over the years! [What if things had worked out differently?]
What if___ instead of "outright" firing Bobby, we had found a place for him. Hell___ if it didn't work out, with him as a third guitarist (Arthur didn't start playing guitar, until year's later) we could have used him as a roadie, or tour manager or something, (anything) there were many roles he could have played.
Continuing with the word "If": If we, or anybody had given Bobby a job with a band, he would not have been wandering around "aimlessly and therefore vulnerable to the machinations of the 'evil one"! Without the introductions that Bobby provided, Charles Manson might never have put together his "family"!
It's quite possible, that he would have become bored and just moved on!
Though it seemed like "light-years" it was only a few years after replacing Bobby, that the world would be shocked by those horrible and unimaginably brutal images.
Too this day, I cannot fathom, how that naive, carefree and genuinely likable "kid" could have possibly been involved, in that carnage!
That awful night, marked the end of the "innocence, of an entire generation. No longer could one instinctively "know" just by the way a person dressed, or talked or the length of their hair___that they were a kindred spirit, someone who was ["one of us"]
There was fear and mistrust, in "Our World" and thing's would never be the same again!
It was as though we had been evicted from the "Garden of Eden" for allowing into our midst, an unspeakable "evil" named Charles Manson!
The "Serpent" was revealed to have lived and moved amongst us, and we never even Knew he was there!
Just another day in the life: Johnny Echols