Alvin Lee helped make Black Sabbath
Tony Iommi has paid tribute to the late Alvin Lee, saying Black Sabbath might never have made it without him – and remembering his horror when he heard the band’s name for the first time.
While Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler and former drummer Bill Ward paid their own tributes last week, Iommi has discussed his memories of Lee in more detail.
He tells the Birmingham Mail: “Alvin was a really great guitar player and a good friend of Black Sabbath over the years.
“In the early days when we were still going by the name of Earth, it was Alvin who helped us get gigs. He’d been out there a bit before us and knew the ropes.
“We’d sit and talk the night away at a flat in London. I remember telling him we were thinking about changing our name to Black Sabbath. He was horrified – he told me we’d never go any good with a name like that.”
Iommi is pleased he was able to return the favour by offering Ten Years After support slots when Sabbath became big.
“Alvin broke new ground with the way he played,” he says. “After he played Goin’ Home at Woodstock he became known as the fastest guitar player in the world. But it wasn’t just about speed – he could rock, he could play the blues and he was a fine jazz guitarist too.
“He will be greatly missed by everyone in the rock’n'roll community.”
Meanwhile, Family singer Roger Chapman has added his own voice to tributes for Lee, saying: “Alvin was frightened of nothing – he just grabbed a guitar and rocked like fuck. I met him in 1961 thereabouts, playing songs I never thought any other British muso knew except myself; so I was instantly impressed, and have been ever since.
“He did a lot of really good stuff on my albums over the years. ‘Do you wanna run through, Alv?’ I’d say, and he’d reply: ‘Nah – just sling it down and take it!’ What a natural! What a guy.”
Sabbath have completed work on their first album with Ozzy Osbourne since 1978. It’s tentatively entitled 13 and is set for release in June.