Alvin Lee of Ten Years After dies at 68

I was saddened to hear of the unexpected passing of Alvin Lee, the singer and guitarist from Ten Years After. Lee died suddenly on March 6th from complications caused by surgery. He was 68. Here is a Los Angeles Times article:,0,2836455.story

Lee's band Ten Years After are best remembered for their performance at the Woodstock festival in 1969 (their 11-minute performance of "I'm Going Home" is one of the high points of the documentary film), and for their 1971 hit single "I'd Love To Change The World". But the quartet had more chart success than their one-hit-wonder reputation would lead you to think. The British blues-rock band reportedly toured the United States an incredible 28 times in the eight years between 1967 and 1975.

Decades later, Mr. Lee has a less lofty reputation than many guitarists who had less talent. I learned of his death by way of the MSN home page, when I clicked on a link that read: "Guitar icon dies after surgery". It's nice to know that Mr. Lee is regarded as a guitar icon, but you would think his name would appear in the text of the link. Adding further insult, I still did not see which "guitar icon" they were referring to immediately after I clicked the link. The link led to an MSN music blog, and another unrelated post had since been published. So I had to scroll a good length down the page before learning that Alvin Lee had died. To my mind, this was a disrespectful reminder of how under-appreciated Alvin Lee has been for the last four decades.

For those who are not familiar with the band's work beyond the two aforementioned songs, I recommend the band's first two albums as a starting point. The self-titled studio debut Ten Years After from 1967 and the live album Undead from 1968 both present the band as a no-nonsense blues- and jazz-rock outfit, avoiding the psychedelic meanderings that many other bands fell prey to during that era. Their sound became increasingly mainstream after that point, up until their initial breakup in 1975. Their best albums from their more commercial post-Woodstock phase were Cricklewood Green (1970) and A Space In Time (1971). My review page for Ten Years After examines the band's lesser-known recordings.

For the past decade, the other three members of Ten Years After (bassist Leo Lyons, keyboardist Chick Churchill, and drummer Ric Lee) have toured and recorded with a younger singer/guitarist named Joe Gooch in place of Alvin Lee, who maintained a solo career until his death.

For your listening pleasure, I'd like to embed this YouTube video of a live track from the 1968 Undead album, a performance of Woody Herman's "Woodchopper's Ball". This instrumental is a good showcase for Lee's talent, and for the other band members as well.

Rest in peace, Alvin Lee.