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.