Alvin Lee best known for his lightning speed rock and roll guitar licks and slow intricate blues with classic rock legends Ten Years After, passed away early Wednesday morning. Family members on Alvin Lee’s website made the official announcement stating ...
“We have lost a wonderful, much loved father and companion. The world has lost a truly great and gifted musician.” –Jasmin, Evi and Suzanne”
The reason for his death was simply pronounced ...
“Alvin unexpectedly passed away early this morning after unforeseen complications following a routine surgical procedure.”
Alvin Lee died in Spain where he had been living for many years.
The Nottingham England native began playing guitar at the age of 13. Lee was inspired by the likes of Chuck Berry and Scotty Moore (Elvis Presley’s guitarist) and formed his first professional band called The Jaybirds in the early 1960’s. Much like The Beatles, The Jaybirds became successful in Hamburg, Germany. The bands destiny became even clearer after moving to London. The group changed their name to Ten Years After and established residency at the legendary Marquee Club. An invitation to the Windsor Jazz & Blues Festival in 1967 would lead to their first recording contract with Deram Records (parent company of Decca Records).
Their self-titled debut album Ten Years After received extensive airplay on underground San Francisco radio stations and caught the attention of legendary concert promoter Bill Graham. He invited the band to play their first concert tour in the summer of 1968, Ten Years After would eventually tour the U.S. 28 times in 7 years.
On Sunday, August 17th 1969, Alvin Lee became a rock and roll hero to millions. Lee’s astonishing performance of “I’m Going Home” not only lifted Ten Years After into superstardom, but also showcased one of the greatest guitarists the world will ever know. Alvin Lee’s performance at the three-day Woodstock event was historically captured on musical soundtrack and in a documentary film. Lee's concert footage was hailed by many as the festivals “best performance.”
Ten Years After released albums with Alvin Lee… Ten Years After (1967), Stonedhenge (1969), Ssssh (1969), Cricklewood Green (1970), Watt (1970), A Space in Time (1971), Rock & Roll Music to the World (1972), Positive Vibrations (1974), About Time (1989). The band also released several live albums and compilations.
Some of the ageless rock and blues compositions performed by Alvin Lee and Ten Years After include … “I’m Going Home,” “One of These Days,” “Choo Choo Mama,” “Hobbit,” “You Give Me Loving,” “Love Like a Man,” “I Woke Up This Morning” and covers like “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” and “Sweet Little Sixteen.” Their 1971 psychedelic sensation, “I’d Love to Change the World” was penned by Alvin Lee and the bands only Top 40 hit single.
Ten Years After featured: Alvin Lee on lead guitars and vocals, Leo Lyons on bass, Chick Churchill on keyboards and Ric Lee on drums.
The band toured worldwide including performances at The Newport Jazz Festival, The Miami Pop Festival, 1970 Isle of Wight Festival and The Toronto Peace Festival. Ten Years After disbanded following the release of the Positive Vibrations album in 1974 but reunited briefly in 1984, 1988 and 1994.
Since 1973, Alvin Lee performed mostly under his own name. He launched a debut solo career with the critically-acclaimed On the Road to Freedom album. Lee collaborated with Mylon LeFevre and featured guest artists George Harrison, Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi, Mick Fleetwood and Ron Wood.
Alvin Lee solo releases … On the Road to Freedom (1973), In Flight (1974), Pump Iron! (1975), Let It Rock (1978), Rocket Fuel (1978), Ride On (1979), Free Fall (1980), RX5 (1981), Detroit Diesel (1986), Zoom (1992), Nineteen Ninety-Four (1994), Alvin Lee in Tennessee (2004), Saguitar (2007), Still On the Road to Freedom (2012).
Alvin Lee’s musical contributions as a guitarist/songwriter/vocalist were phenomenal. Lee continued to collaborate with some of the greatest artists of the time including additional studio performances with George Harrison on Zoom and I Hear You Rockin’ in 1994, and with Elvis Presley band members Scotty Moore and D.J. Fontana on Alvin Lee in Tennessee in 2004.
Alvin Lee’s most recent CD, Still On the Road to Freedom was released in 2012.
In 1996, I had the great pleasure of hanging with Alvin Lee after his incredible performance at Washington D.C.’s 9:30 club during ‘The Best of British Blues’ tour featuring Alvin Lee, Eric Burdon, Ansley Dunbar, Micky Moody, Boz Burrell and Tim Hinkley. He signed his trademark “Rock On” near the base of my 1974 Fender Telecaster and played it backstage. Alvin was extremely cordial and such a cool guy. Alvin Lee loved to play and it showed. Anyone who has ever witnessed one of his live performances would agree that he was surely one of the greatest guitarists to ever walk the planet. Lee was revered by his peers and fans but underappreciated by the mainstream.
I immediately emailed Alvin’s manager Ron Rainey after hearing the news of his passing to offer my condolences to the Lee family. I don’t like writing about the death of a rock star. It’s rather depressing for me to see another rock hero leave this earth. Journalists rush to publish the news for a scoop, while trying to capture massive page views. I told Ron I’d be writing this article later in the evening highlighting Alvin’s music career. I asked him if there was anything he wanted to add to the story. Ron thanked me for the condolences and simply added…
“I’m sure Alvin would want all his fans to “Keep on Rockin’”