Albert Lee: Happy in the Background

Bruce Eder’s profile of Albert Lee at AllMusic sums it up pretty well. Lee, he writes, is “one of those vaguely recognizable names” who people don’t remember as easily as some of the higher profile players. Indeed, he often gets confused with the late Alvin Lee. He may not have the image of other great guitarists of his era, but he certainly has the skills and the pedigree.

Lee got his feet wet with Deep Purple and joined the Crickets through his friendship with Blind Faith bass player Rick Grech. Lee has played with everybody – including a stint with Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Aces and Eric Clapton, for whom he worked for five years. He has played with Jerry Lee Lewis, Joe Cocker, Emmylou Harris, Eddie Van Halen and many others.

Lee’s list of achievements is long and deep. He was the music director for the Everly Brothers 1983 reunion concert and, according to Wikipedia, was “responsible.” He was Guitar Player’s “Best Country Guitarist” five years in a row. Not bad for a Brit.

The biography says that his lack of commercial success is attributed to his quiet demeanor and that he is considered “a complete gentleman” without an ego. He is a technical virtuoso with the ability to play with great feeling.

Above is “Sweet Little Lisa.” Below is “My Baby Thinks He’s a Train.” The video features the impossible-to-not-love vocalist (and violinist) Nicole Yarling as much as it does Lee. He no doubt was happy to share the spotlight. He takes a great solo near the end.

Wikipedia and AllMusic were used to prepare this post.