Andrew Love: Saxophonist with the Memphis Horns


Thursday 26 April 2012 20:16

The tenor saxophonist Andrew Love played on some of the most enduring soul records to come out of Memphis in the 1960s.

As members of the Mar-Keys, the first house band at Stax Records, Love and his friend, the trumpeter Wayne Jackson, blew in unison to create the exciting riffs which kicked off and blasted "In The Midnight Hour" by Wilson Pickett, "Hold On! I'm Comin'" by Sam & Dave, "Knock On Wood" by Eddie Floyd and "Think" by Aretha Franklin to the top of the R&B charts in the US and into the pop listings on both sides of the Atlantic. But Love and Jackson were a versatile team, who could also apply a deft touch to their instruments, as in the plaintive introduction they provided for Otis Redding's Southern soul rendition of the ballad "Try A Little Tenderness".

In 1969 they left Stax, took up the Memphis Horns name and found themselves in greater demand than ever, recording with acts such as Neil Diamond – "Sweet Caroline", "Cracklin' Rosie"; Elvis Presley – "In The Ghetto", "Suspicious Minds", "Kentucky Rain"; Isaac Hayes – "Theme From Shaft"; Al Green – "Let's Stay Together"; U2 – "Angel Of Harlem"; and Steve Winwood – "Roll With It". Their tally of hits reached 50 US No 1s and over 100 Top Ten entries. They also made several albums as the Memphis Horns, the most successful of which was Get Up & Dance in 1977, and in the 1980s and '90s contributed to five albums by the blues guitarist and vocalist Robert Cray, with whom they also toured.

Born in Memphis in 1941, Love was the son of a Baptist minister and played sax with the gospel band in his father's church; his mother was the organist. He graduated from Booker T Washington, the "black" high school also attended by the Stax stalwarts Booker T Jones, William Bell and David Porter, then studied music at Langston University in Oklahoma. On returning to Memphis he picked up session and club gigs with Willie Mitchell, the trumpeter, band leader and producer at Hi Records. Love couldn't afford a phone so he moved across the street from Hi in order to be available whenever Mitchell needed a tenor saxophone player.

In 1965 the drummer Al Jackson, of the Mar-Keys and Booker T & The MGs, recommended him to Stax boss Jim Stewart, and he co-wrote and played on "Don't Have To Shop Around" by the Mad Lads, a US Top 100 entry. Love then teamed up with Jackson, who had heard him with Mitchell. "I knew we would be perfect together," said Jackson, the intense, white, diminutive half of what would be an enduring partnership of physical opposites, since the laid-back Love towered over him. "He had a big tone, and I had a big tone. And I knew that they would blend in the most natural, beautiful way. I remember the first time we played together. We had a unique sound. You can't make that stuff happen. It was fate'"

They backed Redding on the Otis Blue album, which included "Respect" and covers of Sam Cooke's "Shake", the Temptations' "My Girl" and the Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction". "Otis Redding had a lot to do with the Stax horn sound because he hummed a lot of horn lines to us," Love told Rob Bowman, the author of Soulsville USA: The Story of Stax Records. "He would put the horns in some funny places. We tried to fill up the holes, stay off the voice, kick the punch parts, emphasise the hook line, and on the fade-out, try to get exciting to take them on out."

In March 1967, Love, Jackson, and second tenor sax Joe Arnold joined the Stax/Volt tour of Europe which featured Redding, Sam & Dave, Arthur Conley, Carla Thomas and Eddie Floyd, and was recorded for a series of live albums. To make the show more dynamic, the horns copied the moves of their labelmates The Bar-Kays. The European experience and their triumphant appearance with Redding at the 1967 Monterey International Pop Festival opened their eyes to their popularity and the paltry financial rewards they had received. Jim Stewart put Love and Jackson on a weekly retainer of $250, enabling them to cut back on club gigs and concentrate on sessions, but they still felt undervalued. They had a narrow escape when they stayed to do overdubs on Redding's "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay" rather than board the fateful flight which killed the soul star and most of The Bar-Kays in December 1967.

After the purchase of Stax by Gulf + Western the following year, the atmosphere at the label changed and Love and Jackson struck out on their own as the Memphis Horns. Over the next three decades, they worked with James Taylor, Stephen Stills, Dobie Gray, Ann Peebles, Willie Nelson, Rod Stewart, the Doobie Brothers, Keith Richards, Billy Joel, Buddy Guy, BB King, Bonnie Raitt, Primal Scream and Sting. This year they received a Lifetime Achievement Grammy but Love was unable to attend the ceremony because the Alzheimer's with which he had been diagnosed in 2002 had become so pronounced.

Pierre Perrone

Andrew Maurice Love, saxophonist: born Memphis 21 November 1941; twice married (four children); died Memphis 12 April 2012.

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