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Alvin Lee

Although he grew up on Jazz music and his roots are deeply rooted in Blues, he was certainly one of the influences on the "guitar shredding" of Metal.


(Photo: Jim Summaria)


Here are some interesting facts about Alvin Lee:


1. He was born in Nottingham, England on December 19, 1944, as Graham Anthony Barnes.


2. As a child he grew up on his parent's record collection from the blues and jazz genres, but it was the breakthrough of rock 'n' roll in the 1950s that influenced him the most.


3. The first instrument he played was the clarinet, it was at the age of 12. He only switched to the guitar at the age of 13.


4. In 1960 he formed the band "The Jaybirds" with bassist Leo Lyons. The band later changed its name to "Ivan Jay and the Jaycats". Alvin served as the lead singer and guitarist.


5. In 1965 they were joined by drummer Ric Lee and a year later by keyboardist Chick Churchill and thus the lineup was formed.


6. That same year the band changed its name to "Ten Years After", as a homage to Elvis Presley, one of Alvin Lee's idols, whose breakthrough year was 1956, exactly 10 years before the band got its name.


7. In 1967 the band released their debut album "Ten Years After", which is considered one of the first blues rock albums released in the UK. Alvin Lee co-wrote all the original material that appeared on the album.


8. In 1968 The band went on tour in the US for the first time. This was a love at first sight, the American audience was "electrified" by Alvin Lee's dominant and virtuoso melody, which would bring the band to perform no less than 28 tours over 7 years in the US, more than any other British band.


9. In July 1969, the band performed at the "Newport Jazz Festival" as well as the "Seattle Pop Festival".


10. The band's big break came about a month later, during the band's mythical performance at the legendary "Woodstock Festival" in August 1969, during which the band played the song "I'm Going Home" which showcased Alvin Lee's amazing abilities on guitar.


11. In June 1970 the band released their fourth single "Love Like a Man", which was written by Alvin Lee and immediately became a hit in England. It was the first single in the world to feature two different playing speeds. Side A included the hit played at 45 RPM, while the other side included a live version of the hit which due to its length played at 33 RPM.


12. That same year the band played at the famous "Isle of Wight" festival, thus completing performances in front of over a million people at four festivals in just about a year.


13. In 1971 the band released their sixth album "A Space in Time" which included their biggest hit "I'd Love to Change the World".


13. In 1973, Alvin Lee released his first solo project - "On the Road to Freedom", in which he collaborated with singer and guitarist Mylon LeFevre, as well as with other great artists such as: George Harrison, Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi, Ron Wood, Mick Fleetwood and more.


14. In 1974 "Ten Years After" released their last album "Positive Vibrations" and immediately afterwards disbanded.


15. After the band disbanded, Alvin Lee embarked on a solo career during which he released 12 studio albums.


16. In 1985, Alvin Lee performed in Israel as part of the "Stars Festival" held at the Ramat Gan Stadium. This was not his only time in Israel, he also performed on the stage of the mythological "Dan Cinema" in Tel Aviv, alongside a selection of Israeli artists, and parts of this performance was even immortalized on video.


17. In 1989 Alvin Lee reunited with "Ten Years After" and the band released their ninth studio album "About Time".


18. Alvin Lee was considered one of the fastest guitarists of the 1960s and 1970s. His fast and precise playing greatly influenced the "guitar shredding" technique of the 1980s.


19. In a 2001 Total Magazine poll, Alvin Lee was voted the best of 12 great British guitarists.


20. Alvin Lee passed away on March 6, 2013 as a result of complications caused following surgery.


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