ALVIN LEE, ONE OF ROCK’S GREATEST GUITARISTS, HAS DIED.
“With great sadness we have to announce that Alvin unexpectedly passed away early this morning after unforseen complications following a routine surgical procedure,” his homepage reads. “We have lost a wonderful much-loved father and companion, the world has lost a truly great and gifted musician. Jasmin, Evi and Suzanne.”
Like many Brits born during World War II and the immediate years following, Lee developed a love of early rock n’ roll, jazz and blues. He began playing guitar at the age of 13 and formed the Jaybirds two years later. By 1966, they had moved to London, went through some personnel changes and became Ten Years After. With bassist Leo Lyons, keyboardist Chick Churchill and drummer Ric Lee, Ten Years After quickly made a name for themselves in the city’s famous blues community, which led to a recording contract in 1967.
Ten Years After became a fixture on the underground circuit, particularly in San Francisco, where Lee’s fiery solos on his red Gibson ES-335 and extended jams meshed perfectly with the then-burgeoning psychedelic movement. That led to an appearance at Woodstock, where their performance of ‘I’m Going Home’ (embedded below) was one of the highlight’s of the legendary concert film.
The band continued through 1973, scoring a Top 40 hit in 1971 with the counterculture anthem, ‘I’d Love to Change the World’ (also embedded below). After their breakup, Lee moved on to a respected solo career, working with such names as George Harrison, Ron Wood and Peter Frampton and many blues and rockabilly legends.
In total, he released 14 solo studio albums, including last year’s ‘Still on the Road to Freedom,’ which referenced the title to his 1973 solo debut ‘On the Road to Freedom,’ sadly unwittingly bringing his career full circle before his premature death this morning.
“I got my start in music listening to my dad’s jazz and blues 78s when I was eight years old,” Lee wrote in the liner notes. “It’s about the freedom to make music of my own choice without worrying about what other people thought or expected.”