The Woodstock Music Festival in the summer of 1969 burnished the reputation of all its participants through association alone, but what truly launched the players into legend was the release of Woodstock: The Movie the following year. Not everyone who performed made it into the film, but those who did became stars (or bigger stars in some cases). It proved a huge boon to newcomers like Santana and Joe Cocker, non-mainstream acts like Richie Havens and Country Joe and The Fish, and bands more well known in the UK than in the US like The Who and Ten Years After.
Guitarist Alvin Lee formed Ten Years After in 1966 (the name stems from the fact that Elvis Presley released his first album in 1956, ten years prior). The band released a couple of solid blues-rock albums but truly began to build a following by establishing themselves as an energetic live band. This is evident in the film when they absolutely torch “I’m Going Home,” hurtling non-stop through the song and stretching it out to 10 minutes. Lee continually reels off lightning licks while bassist Leo Lyons transforms into a machine and ferociously thumps the hell out of his instrument. It’s a high water mark for the band, and one of the defining performances of the festival.
In 1971, Ten Years After released A Space In Time, their best-selling album. It contains their only US Top 40 hit, “I’d Love To Change The World,” still a mainstay on classic rock radio. Unfortunately, the band could never duplicate this success and broke up a few years later. Alvin Lee had a decades-long solo career and did guest spots for many other artists. He died unexpectedly four days ago from “unforeseen complications following a routine surgical procedure.”
But that’s one beautiful thing about film and records — in a way, he’ll always be 25 — and he can shred that guitar until the end of time.
It’s a bit long for modern audiences—especially when seen outside of the context of the film—but here’s “I’m Going Home” in all its glory. And to any budding rock historians, I command you to go watch the entire movie immediately.