A Rockapaedia Obituary
Band: Ten Years After
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Alvin Lee died aged sixty-eight on 6th March 2013 whilst hospitalized in Estepona, Spain for a an atrial arrhythmia.
Alvin was born on 19th December 1944 in Nottingham, United Kingdom and he began playing guitar at the age of thirteen. In 1960, along with Leo Lyons he formed the core of the band 'Ten Years After'. Alvin was influenced by his parents' collection of jazz and blues records, but it was also rock and roll that sparked his interest.
Alvin Lee's performance at the Woodstock Festival was captured on film in the documentary of the event, and his 'lightning-fast' playing helped catapult him to stardom. Soon the band was playing arenas and stadiums around the globe.
Alvin Lee was named "the Fastest guitarist in the West", and considered a precursor to 'shred-style' playing that would develop in the 1980s.
Ten Years After had success, releasing ten albums together, but by 1973, Alvin Lee was feeling limited by the band's style. Moving to Columbia Records had resulted in a radio hit song, "I'd Love To Change the World", but Alvin Lee preferred blues-rock to the pop to which the label steered them. He left the group after their second Columbia LP. With American Christian rock pioneer Mylon LeFevre, along with guests George Harrison, Steve Winwood, Ronnie Wood and Mick Fleetwood, he recorded and released 'On the Road to Freedom', an acclaimed album that was at the forefront of country rock. Also in 1973 he sat in on the Jerry Lee Lewis double album The Session...Recorded in London with Great Artists recorded in London featuring many other guest stars including Albert Lee, Peter Frampton and Rory Gallagher. A year later, in response to a dare, Alvin Lee formed Alvin Lee & Company to play a show at the Rainbow in London and released it as a double live album, 'In Flight'. Various members of the band continued on with Alvin Lee for his next two albums, Pump Iron! and Let It Rock. In late 1975, Alvin played guitar for a couple of tracks on Bo Diddley's The 20th Anniversary of Rock 'n' Roll all-star album. He finished out the 1970s with an outfit called "Ten Years Later", with Tom Compton on drums and Mick Hawksworth on bass, which released two albums, Rocket Fuel and Ride On, and toured extensively throughout Europe and the United States.
The 1980s brought another change in Alvin Lee's direction, with two albums that were collaborations with Rare Bird's Steve Gould, and a tour with the former John Mayall and Rolling Stones' guitarist Mick Taylor joining his band.
Alvin Lee's overall musical output includes more than twenty albums, including 1987's 'Detroit Diesel', 1989's 'About Time', recorded in Memphis with producer Terry Manning, and the back to back 1990s collections of 'Zoom and Nineteen Ninety-Four'. Guest artists on both albums included George Harrison.
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