LOS ANGELES -- Bryan MacLean, former guitarist for the
influential '60s pop band Love, died here late Friday afternoon.
He was 52.
"It's too much to go into what a remarkable person he was,"
said the singer's mother, Elizabeth McKee, speaking from her
son's apartment in the Hollywood Hills on Tuesday (Dec. 29).
"[His] music is the greatest, but I think his impact on people's
lives, personally, was greater."
McKee, who is also the mother of soulful country-rock singer
Maria McKee, said her son's heart stopped after having dinner with
a friend on Christmas Day. He was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical
Center, where he was pronounced dead at 5:37 p.m., according to
a hospital spokeswoman. The cause of death was not available at press time.
McKee said she saw her son nearly every day, including the morning he died. "We loved each other," she said. "He was my best friend. We would just sit in the morning and talk." After spending some time with his mother Christmas morning, MacLean went for a ride with a friend before having dinner.
By the time MacLean's mother got to the hospital, "he was gone," McKee said. As she spoke, her voice conveyed strength and despair, while she alternately referred to her son in the present and past tense.
MacLean was a roadie for the Byrds before he joined the original
version of Love in 1965 as a guitarist, singer and occasional
songwriter. Love, led by idiosyncratic singer/songwriter Arthur Lee, began as a folk-rock band,
but the group's
music progressed into psychedelic pop. Their garage-punk version
of the Burt Bacharach/Hal David song "My Little Red Book" got
regional airplay in such cities as San Francisco and Los Angeles,
and they scored a minor national Top 40 hit with "7 and 7 Is."
MacLean's song "Alone Again Or" was eventually covered by the
British new-wave band The Damned.
After leaving the group, MacLean joined a Christian ministry. Spirituality remained a primary focus for the remainder of his life, his mother said.
McKee said her son had spent the last year working on an album of neo-classical worship music. "It's very interesting, because when he was a little boy, I had a lot of classical music on [in the house] ... and that influenced his writing," she recalled.
Some of MacLean's most recent compositions will be played at his memorial service, McKee said, adding that she was not sure when the service will be held.
McKee revealed that she plans to present the material to both "secular and Christian labels" for release.
"Who he really is is the person who wrote all these glorious worship songs," she said. "The thing that he would say to me -- and he's repeatedly said it -- is, 'I don't understand why people are interested in me. The music that we did in the '60s -- that isn't who I am now. I'm the person writing worship music. I'm not interested in fame, because I know the pitfalls.'"
Ifyoubelievein, an album of demos of MacLean's Love songs, mostly from 1966, was released last year on Sundazed Records. "All of those songs were nothing but demos," McKee said. "I found them in the garage and transferred them to DAT. I called a few redistributers, and they responded immediately."
Fans are hoping for even more MacLean material as they mourn his death.
"The worst part of this tragedy is the fact that Bryan MacLean/Love never achieved the recognition that they deserved, " wrote Jeffrey Wunderlich, 32, of Louisville, Ky., in an e-mail. "Bryan wrote beautiful songs, and he sang like an angel. He was the one that made the girls swoon, and the guys want to be like him. ifyoubelievein is one of my top three favorite recordings of the last five years. I hope and pray [for] a follow-up. It would be a nice tribute to Bryan, and a wonderful gift to us."
McKee, who said that she is over the initial shock of her son's death, said that she is comforted by her devout spiritual beliefs.
She said that MacLean was at a happy and peaceful place in his life when he died. "I know he's with Jesus; he's right in heaven," she said. "I'm comforted ... I'll miss him."