I've never thought of myself as spookily prescient — if I had, I'd probably sit with a crystal ball in a gypsy costume at county fairs. But it's absolutely true that, in the last few weeks, I was strongly compelled to seek out and listen to Ten Years After's Watt, Cricklewood Green, Rock 'n' Roll Music to the World and Recorded Live albums.
Alvin Lee died today and I'm sad.
Fact: You have never seen a human being nail an air guitar performance like Young Ricky Koster blowing threw "I'm Going Home"— although it's important to note I far prefer the version from Recorded Live to his iconic take from Woodstock.
Fact: I wore clogs for years because of Alvin Lee -- at great personal peril in Central Texas in the late '70s.
Fact: Before the age of the easily-accessed silk screen design, I tried mightily to make my own version of Lee's Fillmore West t-shirt, which he seemed to wear with some regularity onstage.
Fact: After my senior year in high school, when I battled Dallas rush hour traffic to and from my much-hated summer job working in the collections department at a loan company, I listened to Watt incessantly. There was a certain melancholy about that whole summer – not the least because high school was over — and TYA's "Think About the Times" resonated in huge fashion.
Fact: I was crushed when Lee left Ten Years After. He made a collaborative album with Myron LeFevre and, though I gave it a shot out of loyalty to Alvin, it was so bad I warped it with a hair dryer, took it back to the record store, and exchanged it for something else.
Looking back, I realize that Lee wasn't the greatest songwriter in the world – he'd have been the first to tell you that. And for all his rocket-ship fretboard speed, he probably wasn't the most technically gifted rock guitarist, either.
He was stinkin' fast, though, and, as a rock star, he was just about a cool as it got.