Alvin Lee was one of the world’s hottest blues and rock guitarists and singers. He developed his appealing style with Ten Years After, but there are many examples of him experimenting with different moods and genres during his years with the Alvin Lee Band and Ten Years Later.
Over a period of more than 30 years he rocked out on such albums as ‘In Flight’ (1974), ‘Pump Iron!’ (1975) and many more, including ‘Keep On Rockin’ (1994) and ‘In Tennessee’ (2004). Our recent ‘Best Of Alvin Lee’ album delves into the treasure chest of recordings he had made during those peak years.
Alvin Lee was born in Nottingham, England (19th December, 1944) and came from a musical family. While still at school, he learned to play guitar. His first gig was with the Jail Breakers, aged 13. Alvin said “I found the guitar easy to play, because I had played the clarinet for a year.”
After the Jail Breakers came the Jay Cats with singer Ivan Jay. In 1965, after Ivan left, they became a three piece called the Jaybirds, with Leo Lyons on bass. Ric Lee (drums) and Chick Churchill (organ) were added and the Jaybirds became Ten Years After, releasing a debut album on Decca in 1967. By 1968 they had become one of the UK’s most popular bands. Signed to Chrysalis, they created a sensation in America, especially at the Woodstock Festival in 1969 with a rousing version of ‘I’m Going Home’.
A solo career beckoned and Alvin cut ‘On The Road To Freedom’ (1973) with American singer Mylon LeFevre. He then formed Alvin Lee & Co. and recorded ‘In Flight’, ‘live’ at the Rainbow Theatre, London. Alvin built Space Studios at Hook End Manor, inviting friends along to play, including George Harrison.
Alvin continued to perform at festivals, releasing such albums as ‘Alvin Lee In Tennessee’ (2004), ‘Saguitar’ (2007) and ‘Still On The Road To Freedom’ (2012). Living in Spain with his wife Evi, he began to reduce his number of ‘live’ performances, while happy to give interviews and talk about his life as a musician. Sadly, Alvin died aged 68, on 6th March, 2013 as a result of complications following a routine surgical operation. Tributes then poured in from fellow musicians and fans around the world.
Alvin Lee is no longer with us, but his music lives on and we are proud to present a fine selection of Alvin’s work from the many years he thrilled audiences with his songs and exemplary guitar playing.