Alvin Lee was born in Nottingham, England and played with the Jaybirds in the early Sixties. He helped form a new band in the mid-Sixties, and in 1966, the group took on the Ten Years After moniker. The band played the Newport Jazz Festival in 1969, which was the first time the event had featured rock artists. They played the inaugural Woodstock festival that year, and left a lasting impression as Lee led the band in "I'm Going Home."
Woodstock brought the band to a wider audience, spurring hits such as 1970's "Love Like a Man" and 1971's "I'd Love to Change the World,"
Lee's performance at the Woodstock Festival was captured on film in the documentary of the event, and his 'lightning-fast' playing helped catapult him to stardom. Soon the band was playing arenas and stadiums around the globe. The film brought Lee's music to a worldwide audience, although he later lamented that he missed the lost freedom and spiritual dedication with his earlier public.
Lee was named "the Fastest guitarist in the West", and considered a precursor to shred-style playing that would develop in the 1980s.
Ten Years After had success, releasing ten albums together, but by 1973, Lee was feeling limited by the band's style. Moving to Columbia Records had resulted in a radio hit song, "I'd Love To Change the World", but Lee preferred blues-rock to the pop to which the label steered them. He left the group after their second Columbia LP. With American Christian rock pioneer Mylon LeFevre, along with guests George Harrison, Steve Winwood, Ronnie Wood and Mick Fleetwood, he recorded and released On the Road to Freedom, an acclaimed album that was at the forefront of country rock.
Lee's trademark guitar is the famous red Gibson ES-335.