[1944 - 2013] "Alvin Lee, globally acclaimed rock guitarist, passed away in the early hours of Wednesday morning, March 6th 2013. He had been admitted to hospital in Spain, where he lived, for a routine surgical procedure for atrial arrhythmia but died from unforeseen complications. He was 68.
Born in Nottingham to Sam and Doris on December 19th 1944, the youngest of three children, Alvin Lee began playing guitar aged 13 and two years later had formed the core of the band Ten Years After. Originally influenced by his parent's collection of jazz and blues records, it was the advent of rock and roll that truly sparked his interest and creativity and guitarists like Chuck Berry and Scotty Moore provided his inspiration.
The Jaybirds, as Lee's early band was called, were popular locally and had success in Hamburg, Germany, following the Beatles there in 1962. But it wasn't until the band moved to London in 1966 and changed its name to Ten Years After that international success beckoned.
The band secured a residency at the Marquee Club and an invitation to the famous Windsor Jazz & Blues Festival in 1967 led to their first recording contract. The self titled debut album surprisingly received play on San Francisco's underground radio stations and was enthusiastically embraced by listeners, including concert promoter Bill Graham who invited the band to tour America for the first time in the summer of 1968.
Audiences were taken with Lee's distinctive, soulful, rapid fire guitar playing and the band's innovative mix of blues, swing jazz and rock, and an American love affair began. TYA would ultimately tour the USA 28 times in 7 years, more than any other U.K. band.
Appearing at the famed Woodstock Festival, Lee's virtuoso performance was one of the highlights and remains today a standard for many other guitarists. Captured on film in the documentary of the festival, his playing catapulted him into superstardom, and soon the band was playing arenas and stadiums around the globe.
Although Lee later lamented that he missed the intimacy of smaller venues, the film made a huge impact in bringing his music to a worldwide audience. TYA had great success, releasing ten albums together, but by 1973 Lee was feeling limited by the band's style.
With American gospel singer Mylon LeFevre and a host of rock talents like George Harrison, Steve Winwood, Ron Wood and Mick Fleetwood , he recorded and released On The Road To Freedom, a highly acclaimed album that was at the forefront of country rock.
A year later, in response to a dare, Lee formed Alvin Lee & Company to play a show at the Rainbow in London and released it as a double live album, In Flight. An energetic mix of rhythm & blues and rock, with a tribute to Elvis Presley thrown in for good measure, Lee once, in his understated fashion, called this band "a funky little outfit". They were far more than that and various members of the band continued on with Lee for his next two albums, Pump Iron and Let it Rock.
Lee finished out the 70s with a powerhouse trio he called Ten Years Later who also released two albums, Ride On and Rocket Fuel, and toured extensively throughout Europe and the USA."