Albert Lee’s 70th Birthday January 9, 2014 @ The Canyon Club
By Andy Goldfinger
We are backstage at the Canyon Club in Agoura Hills California, and I have the good fortune of interviewing one of the all-time great guitarists in Albert Lee, at his birthday bash no less. I must give you some background first on my introduction to Albert Lee. The first time I saw Albert play was in 1981, and he was part of Eric Clapton’s band. The beautiful thing about EC is that he always loved to showcase his band and Albert got to play a few of his songs, with CLAPTON backing him up. Holy crap, I was hooked. Went out the next day and bought as many Albert Lee albums as I could find, and then started buying the albums he played on. Of which there are soooooooo many. Let’s see, Emmylou Harris, Eric Clapton, Willie Nelson, Dave Edmonds, Dolly Parton, Jackson Browne, The Everly Brothers (responsible for getting them back together), to name a smattering.
My first personal encounter with Albert was in 2009 for a benefit to raise money for departed Little Feat drummer Richie Hayward, coincidentally also at the canyon Club, and Albert was one of the performers that day. I’ll never forget how he introduced himself, and imagine this now in your best English accent, and he says “hi I’m Albert lee, not Alvin, Albert”, hysterical. You will never meet a more humble, giving person. On this particular day he showed up at the venue around noon, and was essentially everyone else’s roadie, the whole day, and night. Then he finally played his set and blew the place apart.
Now here we are in 2014 and Albert has amazingly turned 70, and the people that have come out to pay homage to this gentlemen’s gentlemen are unbelievable. Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, Don Peake (Legendary wrecking crew member), Rosie Flores, Ramblin Jack Elliot, Denny Laine, Peter Asher, Laurence Juber, the whole Desert Rose Band and so many more. It was a tremendous evening with Albert taking the stage with everyone and just so masterful and eloquent with his guitar as always. The performances by Emmylou and Rodney doing such classics as Poncho and Lefty and Luxury Liner, and the entire Desert Rose Band (Chris Hillman, Herb Pederson, etc.) doing Love Reunited, He’s Back and more. Seeing Don Peake (if you don’t know look him up) of the Wrecking Crew playing with Peter Asher on World Without Love and others. That man has played on just so many songs. Talking to him was unbelievable, the songs he has played on, holy moly. He would sit , well actually stand backstage just playing all these riffs from the Jackson 5, Ray Charles, The Temptations, the Monkees, and you realize the breadth of work.
Now backstage and talking with Albert we discuss his longevity and he is really taken aback by all the attention he is getting from his peers. He also reluctantly actually does take credit for bringing the Everly brothers back together in the 1980s. The number of songs and people Albert has played with is quite remarkable. Here is the short list of people he has played with: Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings, Jimmy Page, Rosanne Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Joe Cocker, Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, Linda Ronstadt, Rosie Flores, Michelle Shocked, The Everly Brothers, Earl Scruggs, Jackson Browne, You can listen to the interview (http://flyingeyeradionetwork.com/includes/stream_interviews.cfm?filename=AlbertLee01-09-14.mp3) in all its glory. That same evening I was lucky enough to sit down with Rosie Flores as well and that interview is available as well on our website (http://flyingeyeradionetwork.com/includes/stream_interviews.cfm?filename=RosieFlores01-09-14.mp3).