Alvin Lee, one of the unsung guitar players from the late 1960s, whose absolutely blazing work in the British band Ten Years After endeared him and solidified his niche to the hard rock/electric blues scene of that era, has died at the age of 68, according to his official website.
Lee, who made an art out of playing his guitar with a hyper fast yet with an extremely passionate bluesy soul style, will truly go down as one of the greats of all time, even though he never really was a household name in musical circles. Usurped for the most part by his peers like Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Ritchie Blackmore, and the like, Alvin Lee really stood in a class by himself. Combining all the elements of the aforementioned men and amplifying old blues artists and their respective styles like Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, and early rock pioneer Chuck Berry, Alvin Lee brought a twofold sensibility to rock and roll; he took the past and contemporized it in the present.
With his band Ten Years After, Lee fused most of the styles of the times into his own highly original and highly confident playing. Immortalized with an electrifying performance at the famed 1969 Woodstock Festival, in which the track “I’m Going Home” was recorded for cinematic posterity in the film version of the festival released to theaters a year later, audiences were able to discover for the first time the jaw-dropping way Alvin Lee approached and manifested sounds on his instrument. The band even enjoyed some success with a Top 40 single a few years after Woodstock, the still played on classic rock radio and highly remembered “I’d Love To Change The World,” which while bringing them to new audiences, sort of alienated Lee from the group, as he always remained true to the electric blues sounds he gleaned his most successful playing and music from and he wound up leaving Ten Years After shortly thereafter.
Lee subsquently released many solo records and he remained a venerable performer during the rest of the 1970s up until pretty much the present day; his final album was released in September of 2012. He died during routine surgery from “unseen complications,” reports his website. Here’s what was posted to his website today:
WITH GREAT SADNESS WE HAVE TO ANNOUNCE THAT ALVIN UNEXPECTEDLY PASSED AWAY EARLY THIS MORNING AFTER UNFORSEEN COMPLICATIONS FOLLOWING A ROUTINE SURGICAL PROCEDURE.
WE HAVE LOST A WONDERFUL MUCH LOVED FATHER AND COMPANION, THE WORLD HAS LOST A TRULY GREAT AND GIFTED MUSICIAN.
JASMIN, EVI AND SUZANNE
Now in death, Alvin Lee should move closer to the legendary status and respect he only achieved in cult circles whilst alive. But they were feverishly loyal cults, and legions of fans all across the world, who were inspired, influenced and dazzled by the soulful, intense, passionate, and gymnastically amazing work by Alvin Lee. Now, in his passing, it’s time for the rest of the world to catch up. RIP Alvin.
I don’t know if it’s an subjective feeling’ but too many Classic Rock legends leave us and go to this great gig in the skyâ€¦ in my youth I was a rock reporter In a major Israeli daily newspaper and being a member of one of Israel’s pioneering Prog bands in the 70s got to meet and interview many Rock musicians some of them becoming personal friends.
In the 80’s I established in Tel Aviv a Jam session club that hosted many of the Bands that came to Tour Israel and even recorded an album with members of Van there Graaf, Guy Evans and Nick potter.
I met Alvin Lee the first time in London, Jon Lord of Deep Purple introduced me to him after a gig in the Hammersmith Odeon. when arriving in Israel with his band Alvin agreed to participate in A jam Session I’ve put up in a local Rock venue in Tel Aviv with all the Leading rock musician in Israel.,.. Alvin had the time of his life and asked me to join him on Keyboards with his band – Alan Young and Fuzzy Samuels (member of Crosby, Stills & Nash band).
The next day Alvin had a special request: he wanted to visit the dead sea… I agreed in one condition â€“ that we will take along his red Les Paul guitar so I can take a photo of it in the lowest place in the world.
We drove down the next day and Alvin brought with him a guitar and played a wonderful Blues and named it “The Dead Sea Blues”. Although he had fully booked gigs Alvin said that he can’t resist playing the guitar any moment of the dayâ€¦ he didnâ€™t miss any opportunity to jam with Israel’s Local musicians that were taken by his charm and artistic generosity. In our last conversation he described the late Jon Lord as a “True English gentleman”. Well, today’ I can say the same thing about Alvin. Not only was a virtuoso – Alvin a great musician and great human being. On behalf of the older generation of rock musicians in Israel and Israeli rock lovers I can say one thing â€“ we will all miss him â€“ Alvin is going home for the last time.
Comment by Adar Avisar — March 6, 2013 @ 4:14 pm
50,000 Miles Beneath my Brain. When you see the Almighty, put in a good word for me.
Comment by carl38 — March 6, 2013 @ 7:20 pm
Comment by laguna cat — March 7, 2013 @ 2:23 am
Best piece I have read all day on the life and passing of the great Alvin Lee. Thank you Stoogeypedia! The first youtube video you posted here is mine, from my archive of rock photos. It is a sad day, but maybe now the rest of the world will catch up, like you said. R.I.P. Alvin Lee and a big thank you.
Comment by laguna cat — March 7, 2013 @ 2:33 am
Thank you Laguna for the kind words and I am glad you enjoyed the piece. The video you made was great also, real nice tribute to Alvin. :)
Comment by Guest — March 7, 2013 @ 1:12 pm
Thank you for the kind words Laguna, I am glad you enjoyed the piece. Great video also by the way! :)
Comment by Mike — March 7, 2013 @ 1:14 pm