Alvin Lee

Alvin Lee 15 years old

The Jaycats

The Jaybirds

click to enlarge
Martin D-18

click to enlarge Marshall 2550

click to enlarge LINE 6



Alvin Lee, born on 19-12-1944 as Alvin Graham Barnes in Nottingham England, was the founder and guitarist of the legendary rock band Ten Years After.

At he age of 13 Alvin teached himself to play guitar. At school, Alvin held his guitar hidden under his deskh and take it during breaks to practice chords.
Because of his rebelisch behavior, he was often being sent back home by his teachers and also leaves the school at his 15.

Meanwhile Avin proficient enough with the guitar to form together with his classmate Leo Lyons his first band in 1960. With Alvin on guitar, Leo Lyons on bass, Pete Evens on drums and Ivan Jay Harrison as a singer they call themselves "Ivan Jay and Jaymen". The band name was soon changed into The Jaycats, and not much later in The Jaybirds.

The band had especially success in Germany but international it came after the band in 1966 changed their name into Ten Years After and was performing in London.

The final line-up of Ten Years Affter consisted of: Alvin Lee on guitar and vocals, Leo Lyons on bass guitar, Ric Lee on drums (no family), and Chick Churchill on keyboards.

Ten Years After (from left to right) Lee Lyons - Alvin Lee - Rick Lee - Chick Churchill)

In 1967 the band got a recording contract at Deram, which resulting in the album "Ten Years After". This album was also noted in America. In 1968 the band was invited by concert promoter Bill Graham for a concert tour.
Ten Years After would in seven years, make 28 tours trough the States with as highlight a performance at the legendary Woodstock Festival in 1969, a concert that contributed Lee and his band members to be come famous rockstars.

Woodstock 1969

The audience was mesmerized by Lee's innovative mix of jazz, blues, rock, and his fast, unique and fiery guitar work. His rousing performance at Woodstock, as you can seen on the famous documentary, is still today regarded as a milestone in rock history and ensures that Alvin Lee's unique guitar style is still being discovered by new fans all over the world.

Ten Years After successfully released ten albums, including live albums. In the early seventies, the group recording for Columbia. This record label tried to push the group into the direction of pop music and that was one of the reasons that Lee, after the release of the album Rock & Roll Music to the World (Columbia, 1972) left the band.

The guitar that most associated with Alvin Lee is his custom red Gibson ES-335. On this guitar is installed a single-coil pickup for extra variation in the tones and it became his trademark.

click to enlarge

Alvin also played sometimes on a Fender Stratocaster and acoustic on a Martin D-18 with Grover machine head.

Alvin used on stage amplifiers from Marshall, Jubilee 2550, 50/100 watts, and Marshall Super Lead 100 watt. This in combination with 4 X MARSHALL 4X12 "speaker cabinets.

In the studio Alvin often uses a Fender Tweed and a Line 6 amplifier. Alvin did not use any effects devices because the pedals are too technical form him, as he said.

The band subsequently broke up finaly in 1974. However, Alvin Lee continued as he was always busy. He continued to be rocking, toured a lot, made new albums and collaborated including Steve Winwood, Ronnie Wood, Jon Lord and George Harrison.

Lee made two more albums in 2004: "Alvin Lee in Tennessee" was recorded with two great rock and roll legends, Scotty Moore and DJ Fontana. Lee's latest album 'Saguitar' was released in September 2007, and let clearly known that this founder of the Rock Bleus still got it; unpolished raw blues, rock and rock and roll.

After a more than 40 year career, Lee has taken an indelible place in the world of the blues and rock. In recent years, he was back on stage and played his favorite music like in the late 60's and early 70's: Full of passion, full of blues, full of rock 'n roll and full of energy.

Alvin Lee died March 6, 2013 to "unforeseen complications following a routine surgery".
Alvin Lee was 68 years old.

Alvin Lee (Graham Alvin Barnes)