Alvin Lee Dies: Guitarist for British Blues Band 'Ten Years' was 68

Thursday, 07 Mar 2013 08:55 AM

By Michael Mullins

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Regarded as "the fastest guitar in the West," the British Blues rocker Alvin Lee is dead at 68.

The musician died in Spain on Wednesday due to complications following what his manager, Ron Rainey, described as a routine surgery. Further details of Lee's death were not released.

A guitarist for the band "Ten Years After" – which performed in Woodstock in 1969 and was originally known as the "Jaybirds" – Lee's ability was showcased in a later documentary about the counter-culture concert where he wailed away on his guitar in the band's rendition of "I'm Going Home."

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"We have lost a wonderful, much loved father and companion," said the statement signed by his daughter Jasmin, wife Evi, and former companion Suzanne. "The world has lost a truly great and gifted musician."

Similar sentiments were shared by his former band members.

Lee was "a real leader of men. When I first saw him play it became my ambition to play with him," "Ten Years After" keyboardist Chick Churchill told the Los Angeles Times.

"He was the closest thing I had to a brother," the band's bass guitarist Leo Lyons wrote in an email to the Times. "We had our differences but we shared so many great experiences together that nothing can take away."

Speaking further about his friend, Lyons added that Lee was "an inspiration for a generation of guitar players."

Five years after Woodstock, the band, which having released ten albums and toured 28 times in a seven year period in the U.S., split up in 1974 causing Lee, who was also a song-writer, to pursue a solo career.

In his solo years, Lee performed with such musicians as George Harrison, Steve Winwood and Mick Fleetwood, having experimented with different styles of country rock, rhythm and blues, reported The Associated Press.

"Ten Years After" toured sporadically for a few decades until another guitarist took Lee's place in 2003.

In a 1998 interview with USA Today, Lee attributed the breakup to the band being "overworked and overpaid," adding that the members "got tired and fell apart."

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Another factor in the split was drug use, which Lee acknowledged in an interview with the Nottingham Post that after purchasing a mansion with a recording studio, frequent partying sabotaged most of the recording sessions.

Lee is survived by his wife, Evi, and a daughter, Jasmin, from a previous relationship.

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