Ten Years After’s Alvin Lee dies
These days Alvin Lee lives in a kind of exile from England in an area outside Marbella. “I don’t miss it. Don’t miss the speed cameras. I got into financial difficulties when I left Hook End [he also got divorced]. My outlay was more than my income, and a ton of money disappeared, to the point where I started playing club gigs for £1,000 a night in ’89 because I could see the bottom of the barrel. Any money I had,
I made from buying and selling property. I also sold everything else when I left England. I put all my Woodstock memorabilia, my gold records and my guitars into auction. I don’t have any of those possessions left.”
For years as a solo artist he refused to play old TYA favourites such as Love Like A Man and I’d Love To Change The World. “I was a bit mean to the audiences. I don’t care so much now, because some of those ancient songs sound like old friends.”
He doesn’t mind his albums, although his star waned when the new wave swept bands like Ten Years After into a cul de sac. “I made a couple of less good ones, like Free Fall and RX5, trying to be radio-friendly then finding they didn’t have any takers.”
Still, in southern Spain the weather is good and the wine is cheap. Alvin has a new album out called Still On The Road To Freedom, and a compilation of “my up-tempo stuff called The Best Of. It’s daft they’re out at the same time, but that’s not my decision. I’m fed up with all the ‘legendary Alvin Lee’ stuff. ‘Bullshit’ is a strong word, but that’s probably what it is. I think I’m lucky, because whatever I strived for I usually got. I’m just a musician, really. I’m not that valuable. Am I stubborn? Dunno. I’m still dedicated. I still play guitar every day, at least two hours. I’m not as fluent as I was until I play live, and then it starts to flood back. At least I’m not a travelling jukebox any more. I do what I want and I please myself and my wife Evi.”
He’s not going home.
* Originally published in Classic Rock issue No.178.