Hinkley on Alvin Lee and Tennessee
I was playing in a band
called The Bo Street Runners. It was around 1965 and we
had a gig at a place called The Dungeon, in Nottingham,
England. Our singer Mike Patto had grown up in Norfolk
not far from Nottingham. During our break Mike
introduced me to a guitarist who had a band called
Jaybirds. Later that year we all ended up living at the
Madison Hotel just off Bayswater Road, London. The hotel
was full of musicians, we were four to a room and below
us Alvin was sharing a room with his drummer, Ric Lee
and bass player Leo Lyons. The Jaybirds were backing up
a vocal harmony group called the Ivy League and also
working with some visiting US acts which was something
we all did in those days.
Finally Alvin told us he had reformed the Jaybirds and
changed the name to Ten Years After in honor of the ten
years since Elvis’ first hit record in 1956, it then
it being 1966. They got a record deal with Chrysalis
records and went to the US and did a gig in upstate New
York at a place called Woodstock. The rest is history.
I lost touch with Alvin for a few years but when we
finally met up again in the early 1970’s Alvin was
about to record an album with gospel artist, Mylon Le
Fevre. We recorded the album in Alvin’s new studio
which was still unfinished. I remember helping put up
the sound absorbing panels before the recording sessions
started. That album, “On The Road To Freedom” was
Alvin’s first venture away from TYA and I played on
most of the tracks. After tthose sessions played music
together a lot, forming a close musical relationship and
it has never stopped. I’ve played on nearly all of his
solo albums including the live recording of the Rainbow
concerts, “In Flight” which I consider to be one of
the best examples of Alvin’s enormous talent.
Alvin is steeped in the blues and jazz. His wonderful
Dad, Sam who I had the pleasure of meeting a number of
times was an avid music fan and introduced Alvin to
blues and jazz at an early age.
Alvin has a great knowledge of music and we have become
close friends over the years. We will continue to play
music together for the rest of our lives.
Now resident in southern Spain, Alvin continues to make
great music. His latest recording on which I played B3
organ, was recorded here in Nashville with his hero,
Scotty Moore, the architect and guitarist of the early
“Alvin Lee In Tennessee” is a superb example of
Alvin’s great talent for playing Rock ‘n Roll.
Whilst I was working with George Harrison he once said
to me in that Liverpool drawl, “ya know, Alvin plays
Chuck Berry bedder than Chuck Berry”. Maybe he’ll do
a “Chuck” album next !
2004 Tim Hinkley