Ten Years After guitarist Alvin Lee died on Wednesday (March 6th) at the age of 68. A message from his family announcing his death was posted on his website (AlvinLee.com), stating: "With great sadness we have to announce that Alvin unexpectedly passed away early this morning after unforeseen 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."
For most of the rock generation, Lee -- and his sticker filled cherry red Gibson 335 -- will always be remembered for Ten Years After's show-stopping performance of "I'm Goin' Home" from the 1969 Woodstock movie and soundtrack, along with the band's sole Top 40 hit and FM rock staple, 1971's "I'd Love To Change The World" which peaked at Number 40. Ten Years After formed in 1966 and took its name to commemorate the year in which Elvis Presley broke worldwide -- 1956.
Despite all the legend surrounding it, shortly before his death, Alvin Lee recalled that Woodstock was just another one of the outdoor festivals the group did that year, and that it only stands out to people because of the movie: "I did the Texas Pop Festival and the Atlanta Peace Festival, which were equally good if not better festivals than Woodstock. But, without the movie and without it being declared a national disaster, y'know, it didn't quite catch the media's attention, like at Woodstock. That whole period of '69, all those festivals were great -- Woodstock's just the one that got remembered 'cause of a movie was made of it."
Lee split from Ten Years After and in 1973 teamed up with Mylon LeFevre for the On The Road To Freedom album. The set featured appearances by George Harrison -- who offered up his own "So Sad" -- a year before he released it on his own Dark Horse collection -- along with contributions from Ron Wood, Mick Fleetwood, and Steve Winwood.
Lee reunited with Ten Years After in 1983 and 1988, recorded a 1989 studio set, called, About Time, and once again played live in 1994, before Lee again went solo.
Back in 2004, he realized a life-long dream by teaming up with Elvis Presley's Sun Records era bandmates, guitarist Scotty Moore and drummer D.J. Fontana for his album, In Memphis. Lee recalled how Elvis and Moore's playing grabbed him the first time he heard their music: "Elvis was very exciting. I think was about 13 years old when I first heard, probably, 'Heartbreak Hotel,' or maybe 'Just Because,' and I was immediately struck by Scotty Moore and his brilliant solos. I joined the Elvis Presley fan club just to get pictures of Scotty and his guitar. I think those early Sun days, they were just wonderful. Wonderful music came out of that place."
In 2012 Alvin Lee released his last album, Still On The Road To Freedom.