Friday, March 8, 2013

Alvin Lee - "Sure Will Miss Him!"

Yesterday, Greg Rector posted on my Facebook wall “I was hoping you might work in some Alvin Lee sometime - sure will miss him!” Unfortunately, I hadn’t heard the news of Alvin Lee’s passing and just assumed Greg was putting in a request for this blog as he does from time to time. About 90 minutes later, I understood his statement “sure will miss him!” It was then that I learned of Alvin’s death in Spain on Wednesday, March 6, 2013 of “unforeseen complications following a routine surgical procedure.”

At the age of 68, he was still young enough to rock and roll and it was unfortunate he was taken from us – we sure will miss him. If there is any musician that had a direct impact on my learning to play an instrument better, it was Lee. During the second semester of my freshman year in college, I would go back to my dorm room and try and figure out some of his licks – on the slower songs mind you. I would have never attempted to try, then and now, to figure out what he did on “I’m Going Home” and other numbers that he played at breakneck speed.

What I was able to pick up were the pentatonic scales which were integral to his solos and compositions in general. With a little bit of knowledge, Alvin Lee’s influence made me a better guitarist and keyboardist – although I’ll never be in his league – he was pure genius. His performance of “I’m Going Home” playing his “bestickered” red Gibson 335 at Woodstock is classic. If you haven’t seen the movie, the three hour epic is worth seeing to just watch Alvin play.

I’ll have to give credit where credit is due. Jim Roach of Pittsburgh’s WDVE turned me on to Ten Years After. Every Sunday, he played three full hours of an artist and would intersperse the music with comments. I taped these three hours and used this a year later to better my musical skills. He also was the one to explain the origin of the band’s unusual name – they formed “ten years after Elvis.”

I’ve already featured some of Ten Years After’s flip sides, so I am dispensing with my typical Friday Flipside feature. Ten Years After, after all, were an album oriented band and they issued few singles in the US and elsewhere. One of those singles was issued on the Deram label in November 1968.

The “A” side,  “Hear Me Calling,” would later appear on their LP “Stonedhenged.” It’s a medium tempo number that has a vocal harmony similar to Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead. Unfortunately, I could not feature the album version in stereo – which kills – as only an incomplete version of the song is available on YouTube.

Therefore, the single edit in mono is featured. I’ll have another Ten Years After tune tomorrow for our Saturday Bubbling Under feature. Long live Alvin’s music – may he rest in peace and his memory influence millions of others.

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