This year’s 50th anniversary of Woodstock Music and Art Fair brought to mind the late, great guitarist, Alvin Lee-rock and roll guitar picker.
When I was an impressionable beginning guitarist at seventeen, the documentary Woodstock came to my small Illinois town’s theater . One had to be eighteen to get in, but miraculously, I wasn’t carded! Joe Cocker, Santana, Richie Havens, Canned Heat, Jefferson Airplane, Sly and the Family Stone, and many others who performed were featured in the film. I was mesmerized at the sheer power of its music.
Ten Years After
One of the amazing bands at Woodstock was Ten Years After-a powerhouse blues-rock band fronted by Alvin Lee and his lightning-fast guitar playing. One of the film’s highlights featured THREE simultaneous Alvin Lee images on the screen as he blasted through “I’m Goin Home” with his kick-ass band -Ten Years After.
Ten Years After was founded in 1966 (after several name changes) by Alvin Lee, bassist Leo Lyons, keyboardist Chick Churchill, and drummer Ric Lee (no relation to Alvin). Their first album, Ten Years After, was released in 1967. They went on to record eight studio and three live albums. Ten Years After was English blues at its best. Alvin left to go a different direction in 1973.
After Ten Years After
After Ten Years After, Alvin Lee played on albums by Mylon Lefevre, Jerry Lee Lewis, and others. He fronted his own band; also the bands Rx5, Ten Years Later, and trio with Scotty Moore and D.J. Fontana (formerly Elvis’ Presley’s backup musicians).
I saw Alvin when he was in RX5 (early 80’s). He came out slowly rocking and weaving and looked he wasn’t gonna make it. Trance-like, he then rocked faster and faster, shredding his guitar-AMAZING! His band was the warm-up for ZZ Top on their “Eliminator” tour. They played THREE encores (an opening act!) I’ve never seen a better live guitarist. ZZ Top paled in comparison to Rx5 that night!
The Bluest Blues
One of the greatest guitar songs ever recorded is “The Bluest Blues“, featuring not only Alvin Lee, but George Harrison’s stunning slide guitar solo as well. Click on the fore-mentioned link if you want a sonic treat. You won’t be disappointed!
The Last Show
The last show Alvin Lee would perform was May 28, 2012 in Holland. A recording was released. Although the fingers wouldn’t fly as fast, the feel was still evident, and that’s really all the matters, isn’t it?
Alvin Lee passed away March 6, 2013 in Spain. He succumbed due to complications from a routine heart procedure. He was 68 years old.
His recorded legacy is one to be proud of- over thirty albums.
Alvin Lee-Rock and roll guitar picker extraordinaire!
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