I Can’t Keep From Crying, Sometimes

Yesterday, I lost one of my heroes.

Alvin Lee was the dynamic personality fronting Ten Years After, one of the most underrated and forgotten bands of the Sixties. They started off as a blues/jazz fusion band (very similar to a joke in Spinal Tap) and then were pretty much 100% pure blues until 1969. That’s when they rocketed into world consciousness due to their amazingly intense performance of Alvin’s song I’m Going Home at Woodstock:

Alvin always ended his concerts with that song, and that night, it brought down the house. I know, because I was there in the fifth row, stage center, and it took 3 or 4 people to hold me down (I was seriously bopping to the music). When the Woodstock movie came out, it cemented his reputation as a superstar, but eventually that ego stuff got to his head, I think. But he never lost his blues roots.

In any case, those were the days. The days when even late in 1968, you could get a good seat for a Ten Years After concert for a whopping $1.50. The days when people really cared about guitar players. Everyone knew that “the best” was either Jimi Hendrix or Eric Clapton (it was kind of a religious issue, like Macs vs. PCs today), but there was a serious dispute over “fastest”, and for me that was a three-way tie between Alvin Lee, Johnny Winter, and Danny Kalb. Throw in some soulful players like Leslie West and Mike Bloomfield, and the best of the psychedelic/hard rock guitarists like Jorma Kaukonen, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, and James Gurley, and you’ve pretty much got the Top Ten of the 60s.

As a struggling guitarist myself, I was happy to play along with Alvin while blasting Ten Years After records in my bedroom. If I hit 20% of the notes Alvin did, it was a good day. And I did see them more than any other band in history (including their mind-boggling four encores at the Fillmore East in 1970). So I can’t properly tell you how much they meant to me, but yesterday, I couldn’t even write this, and toking wasn’t enough, so I actually drank three full shots of hard liquor, and that finally put me in the right frame of mind to get through it all.

Here’s a rarely-seen performance of Alvin singing, playing guitar, and blues harp in their real tour de force, Help Me:

And just for completion…here’s a 20 minute live performance of the song referred to in the headline (which was originally written by The Blues Project):

Rest In Peace, Alvin. And enjoy your all-star jam in heaven with Jimi and Mike Bloomfield and Duane Allman and Stevie Ray Vaughan!


Old Hippie is a father of two boys and thankfully living in California where all this kind of thing is legal. He started smoking marijuana in 1967 in high school, experimented with mind-expanding drugs of all kinds, and then straightened out 15 or so years later to become an airplane pilot. After being diagnosed with depression in 2000, he lost his job and most of the following decade to prescription medications (such as antidepressants) which sapped his energy and will. Finally, a chance conversation with a friend led to a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana (MMJ). This changed his entire life, health, and outlook for the better. BeyondChronic.com is his continuing story. It’s also his way to provide experienced advice on using medical marijuana effectively and responsibly, as well as advocacy, activism, and support for others. Old Hippie teaches about safe use of cannabis edibles, Canna Caps, vaporizers, dosing, and even microdosing.


Thanks for sharing OH. Woodstock must have been a trip! I wish, but I was only 11 at the time. I was paying attention though, even then. It’s only Rock ‘n Roll…

RIP Alvin


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