By Ray McDonald
Last week, I wrote about “seizing the day” when it came to viewing and appreciating artists, especially those of advancing ages. We never know what tomorrow may bring, and today we mourn the passing of a great musician.
On March 6th, guitarist Alvin Lee died from complications following what was reportedly a routine surgical procedure. He was 68. Born in Nottingham, England, Alvin was of the generation which produced many of our most legendary blues-rock musicians. In 1966, he formed the group Ten Years After, and in 1969 he stepped onto the world stage. The band played at the Newport Jazz Festival at a time when it was just beginning to accept rock acts. Then, in August of that year, Alvin Lee got his big break: Ten Years After performed at the Woodstock Festival, and his fleet-fingered guitar work on “I’m Going Home” made him a star. It’s still a bravura performance today, 43 years later.
While this performance catapulted Lee to the status of guitar hero, it also proved limiting. In a 1975 interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, Alvin complained about how audiences now demanded he trot out “I’m Going Home” at every opportunity, and complained that the fun had largely gone out of performing.
Ten Years After enjoyed a few more hits before disbanding in 1974. The group got back together in 1983, but by that time, their brand of music was no longer in vogue. I regret to say I lost track of them, but a look at an early 21st Century performance reveals Alvin retained his fire and technique.
Alvin Lee released his latest album “Still On The Road To Freedom” last August.
Do you have any fond memories of Alvin Lee and Ten Years After?