Lebre Sylvie /Dalle /Landov
Alvin Lee performing with Ten Years After in the early 1970s.
Alvin Lee performing with Ten Years After in the early 1970s. Lebre Sylvie /Dalle /Landov
Guitarist Alvin Lee, whose incendiary performance with the British band Ten Years After was one of the highlights of the 1969 Woodstock festival, has died.
He was 68. Lee's website says he "passed away early this morning [Wednesday] after unforeseen complications following a routine surgical procedure." An assistant to his daughter also confirmed the news to NPR.
His band's biggest hit — "I'd Love to Change the World" — came a couple years after Woodstock. We'll embed a clip from that.
But for those of us of a certain age who wished they could play a guitar well, it's Lee's furious fretting on "I'm Going Home" — famously memorialized in the Woodstock movie — for which he'll be most remembered. Some have called it "guitar excess." This blogger can tell you that many, many teenage guys thought it was great.
Guitar Aficionado put it this way in a piece published last year:
"For a full-on blues-rocking experience, there's no beating Ten Years After's adrenaline-fueled reading of 'I'm Going Home.' The performance, an intense nod to vintage blues and '50s rock and roll, featured the lightning-fast fretwork of Ten Years After frontman Alvin Lee. 'The solo on the movie sounds pretty rough to me these days,' Lee told Guitar Aficionado late last week. 'But it had the energy, and that was what Ten Years After were all about at the time.' "
If you haven't heard "I'm Going Home" in a while, click here.
According to the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, a good source for Woodstock history, Ten Years After's set on Aug. 17, 1969, came right after the performance by Country Joe and the Fish and right before The Band.
Update at 8:15 a.m. ET, March 7. From Morning Edition:
Our friends on Morning Edition have more on Lee, including clips of him playing. According to host Steve Inskeep, Ten Years After never played "I'd Love to Change the World" in concert, preferring to stick to the blues.