Alvin Lee, guitarist for the seminal British blues band, Ten Years After, died this morning at the age of 68. According to Lee’s website, he passed away due to “unforseen [sic] complications following a routine surgical procedure.” Ten Years After was formed in 1966 with Lee front and center of the band – serving as guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter. Lee was with Ten Years After for their first eight albums until the band broke up in 1974. The band reformed briefly in the mid-80s and then again in 1988. They were billed as Alvin Lee and Ten Years After for much of their touring through the 1990s and early 2000s.
While a hit in their native England from their self-titled debut album in 1967, their popularity in the United States really started with their appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1969 – as one of the first “rock” bands to be asked to perform at the festival. Their Newport appearance propelled them into an appearance at Woodstock the next month. Ten Years After, and especially Lee’s guitar virtuosity, at Woodstock propelled them to superstar status. Their performance of “I’m Going Home,” was included on both the film and the soundtrack to Woodstock – Lee’s fretwork on this song is still talked about in guitar circles. Their biggest hit in the US followed soon after as “I’d Love to Change the World,” off their A Space In Time album hit the Top 40 in 1971.
Watch Lee with Ten Years After performing “I’m Going Home” at Woodstock and below that watch a brief interview with Lee, followed by the studio recording of “I’d Love to Change the World.”