Alvin Lee, the legendary guitarist for British band Ten Years After, died today of complications stemming from a recent, routine surgery. He was 68.
Lee is perhaps best remembered for his blistering 1969 Woodstock performance on Ten Years After's "I'm Going Home." The incendiary performance is considered one of the highlights of the landmark festival and his punishing fretwork during the song has been inspiring and challenging guitar players ever since. Check out the video below:
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Lee helped form Ten Years After (under the name The Jaybirds) in the early '60s. The band were a relative success before 1969, but Woodstock brought them worldwide recognition and led to their biggest hits, "Love Like a Man" in 1970 and "I'd Love to Change The World" in 1971.
Unfortunately, sudden success broke the band. A slew of new fans crowded their shows and demanded they play their radio singles, as Lee recounted to Rolling Stone in 1975.
"We'd play the old Fillmore and be able to just play," Lee told Rolling Stone. "We had respectful audiences then who would appreciate a jam or a swing. But after Woodstock, the audience got very noisy and only wanted to hear things like 'I'm Going Home.'
Lee said he felt pressured to conform to stereotypical rock and roll and pop styles of playing.
"I've always been much more of a guitar picker but I began to feel forced into a position of being the epitome of a rock & roll guitarist," Lee said. "Originally TYA wanted to make it without having to compromise to pop. It worked for a while but after five or six years the fun went out of it for me, a lot of the music went out of it."
Lee left the band in 1973 to work on solo projects and released his last solo work- titled "Still on the Road to Freedom"- just last year. His passing was announced this morning via his website.
"With great sadness we have to announced that Alvin unexpectedly passed away early this morning after unforeseen complications following a routine surgical procedure," the statement said.
No funeral plans for Alvin Lee have been announced.