Lee may not have been as popular as other contemporaries like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page, but his skill and speed on the guitar ranks him among the era’s guitar gods.
Lee died early today (Mar. 6), from “unforeseen complications following a routine surgical procedure,” according to his website.
His sound was rooted in blues and jazz that his parents favored. The genesis of Ten Years After began with a band called The Jaybirds in 1962. Lee played guitar and sang lead vocals. The band, tracking the Beatles’ route to stardom, played at the Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany.
The band returned to the UK in 1966 and after several incarnations came up with the name Ten Years After. The band first toured in the United States at the invitation of concert promoter Bill Graham in 1968. A year later, Lee and the band played at Woodstock.
Ten Years After was immortalized in documentary “Woodstock,” which featured its song “I’m Going Home,” showcasing Lee’s furious fretwork.
After that, the band was internationally known. It toured the U.S. 28 times over the next seven years, more than any other UK rock group. The band released 10 albums before it broke up in 1973. It released its biggest hit, “I’d Love to Change the World” the same year.
Lee felt the group was drifting more into a pop sound rather than blues and rock, so he left the group and went solo. His first album Road to Freedom included contributions from gospel singer Mylon LeFevre and rock’s royalty: George Harrison, Steve Winwood, Ronnie Wood and Mick Fleetwood.
In all, Lee recorded more than 20 albums through the 1990s. Check out this version of “I’m Going Home” below from Winterland in San Francisco in 1978 and the Woodstock version.