I heard last night that guitarist Alvin Lee had died, at the age of 68, on Wednesday in Spain from surgical complications. I am sure the name doesn’t mean much to a lot of you but to those of you who grew up in the time of Woodstock, his name brings up memories of one of the more memorable performances from that show. Lee was the leader of the British band Ten Years After and their frantic version of I’m Goin’ Home took off when the documentary and soundtrack of that festival came out soon after. It was electrifying stuff , then and now, and was one of the definitive moments of that landmark show. I know that it really stood out for me even with all of the the many other incredible performances.
Unfortunately, he always felt that the attention that the Woodstock performance brought forced them in a different musical direction, more pop and away from the electric blues that he so loved and which their earlier success was built. It’s one of those instances where success is a double-edged sword.
Lee’s biggest hit here, besides the Woodstock performance, was the 1971 song I’d Love to Change the World, which hit the Top 40 here. It has a great sound and in many ways expresses the chaos and uncertainty that marked the late 60′s and early 70′s. Lee’s playing on this cut is memorable. Here it is, in memory of Alvin Lee.