The Alvin Lee Interview

Discussion about guitar heroes from the 1960s typically revolves around Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, with an occasional shout-out to Pete Townshend, Duane Allman and Jerry Garcia. Of course, there were many other able-bodied guitarists from the era who could swing with the best of them. One man who regularly topped the polls and still commands a hefty penance of reverence is Alvin Lee.

As the guitarist, voice, songwriter and focal point of Ten Years After, Lee’s furious playing propped up by a no-nonsense, semi-rockabilly approach was key to the band’s live performances. Nowhere is this more apparent than by the 10-minute scene from the Woodstock movie featuring Lee and TYA blazing through “I’m Going Home.” By the time the band made its way to the mainstream, Lee had decided to switch gears and make his first solo album (with Mylon LeFevre) boosting a title that more or less summed up his feelings at the time — On The Road To Freedom.

In the years since, Alvin Lee has not become a superstar solo act, but he’s cranked out over a dozen albums of varying styles and disciplines, and worked with people like George Harrison, Mylon LeFevre, Ron Wood, Scotty Moore and D.J. Fontana. His 2012 release, Still On The Road To Freedom, is simply, as he told me during the following interview, a reassertion of his independence, making “free music for the soul.” At 67, living comfortably in Spain, playing as fluidly and furiously as ever — Alvin Lee is on a road to freedom most certainly paved with gold.

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