Ten Years After guitarist Alvin Lee dies at 68
The British-born blues-rock legend nicknamed 'Captain Speed Fingers' has played his last solo
ALVIN LEE, the British guitarist, vocalist and founder member of the 1960s blues-rock band Ten Years After, has died at the age of 68. The Nottingham-born musician died in Spain from complications following a "routine surgical procedure", his manager said. Here are five things you might not know about the man nicknamed 'Captain Speed Fingers':
He was a big Elvis fan: After playing in a band called The Jaybirds, Lee formed Ten Years After in 1966. He was a huge fan of Elvis Presley and his new band's name was a reference to 1956, the year Presley rocketed to success.
They were big in the US: Ten Years After's expansive guitar sound captured the late-1960s mood perfectly and their eponymous 1967 debut album was played extensively by San Francisco's underground music stations. That caught the attention of legendary concert promoter Bill Graham, who invited them to tour the US in 1968. The band toured America 28 times in seven years – more than any other British group. "The strange thing was we had gone to what I considered to be the home of the blues, but they'd never heard of most of them [blues artists], and I couldn't believe it," Lee recalled in a 2003 interview with Classic Rock magazine. "We were recycling American music and they were calling it the English sound."
Lee made his name at Woodstock: Many people will remember Lee for the "epic and electrifying" 11-minute guitar solo he played at the 1969 Woodstock Festival during his band's performance of I'm Going Home, says Time. It is one of the highlights of the 1970 documentary about the festival.
Other guitarists rate him highly: Lee wasn't as famous as other 60s guitar heroes such as Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and Jeff Beck, but he had plenty of technique. "On his Gibson ES-335 [guitar] Lee could shift instantly from speedy single-string leads to rhythmic riffs while doing his best to sing like his American blues heroes," the New York Times reports. His playing also made a deep impression on younger musicians. On learning of his death today, former Guns N' Roses lead guitarist Slash tweeted: "I just heard about Alvin Lee's passing. He was the 1st badass, super fast lead guitarist I remember hearing as a kid. legend. RIP." Another leading rock guitarist, Joe Satriani, said Lee was "a big influence on my playing. He was a great musician and a gentleman too. I still have the pick he gave me a few years back…"
His Elvis fixation lasted a lifetime: In 2004, Lee recorded a solo album, In Tennessee, with the guitarist Scotty Moore and the drummer D. J. Fontana, who had both worked with Presley in his early years. ·