Albert Lee says that his Everly Brothers gig was a “natural”



By Steve Newton

In the world of music, jolly old England is famous for a number of things. The Beatles for instance. And rock guitar heroes like Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck. But country music is not one of Brittania’s specialties, and it never has been.

Luckily for Albert Lee, who grew up in London, there was just enough country on the radio to keep him interested. Today he’s one of the most sought-after country pickers around.

“You didn’t hear it every day,” says Albert. “But it was there. It was enough to stimulate you so that you’d run out and try and find records.”

Country artists like George Jones and Buck Owens were the first people to really influence Lee, who started out playing piano but switched to guitar at the age of 15. Today, the 43-year-old is playing lead with a couple of his other childhood heroes, the Everly Brothers.

Lee will be in action this Sunday (July 13) at the Expo Theatre, where the Everly’s will be performing two shows (at 3 and 7 pm), as part of the Legends of Rock ‘N’ Roll series.

Since moving from London to Los Angeles in 1974, Albert Lee has recorded or toured with the likes of Bo Diddley, Jerry Lee Lewis Joe Cocker, Jackson Browne, and Joan Armatrading. He really proved himself when he took the job of former Elvis guitarist James Burton in the Emmylou Harris band.

“That was a little daunting” he admits. “But I managed it. There was no way that I was going to replace him, but I did bring something of my own to the gig.”

Although he has played a lot more than just country in his career, that is basically what Lee is noted for. He wrote the song “Country Boy”, which was a number-one hit for Ricky Scaggs.

And he was voted Best Country Guitarist every year for the past five years by the readers of Guitar Player magazine.

“Well country rock is my favourite music,” he says. “I like the blues, but I don’t think I play it as well.”

Maybe not, but Lee was handy enough with the blues for Eric Clapton to hire him on as second guitarist in 1979. Lee toured extensively with Clapton, and sparked him into playing some of his finest guitar ever. The interaction between Lee and Clapton was captured for posterity on the double live Just One Night album, which they recorded in Japan.

Lee says there’s quite a difference between touring with Clapton and touring with the Everly Brothers, giving up the private plane and playing two gigs a night instead of one.

“It’s a little tiring sometimes.”

As well as playing on the latest Everly Brothers album, Born Yesterday, and the upcoming trio album by Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris, and Dolly Parton, Albert Lee has his own album out as well. Titled Speechless, it’s one of the first releases on the high-quality MCA Masters Series.

As well as hot guitar, Lee plays mandolin and piano on the LP. He wrote five of his own songs for Speechless, arranged two traditional fiddle tunes (“Salt Creek” and “Arkansas Traveler”), and pulled an Art of Noise trick by covering Duane Eddy’s “Cannonball”.

“That was just something that came up on the spur of the moment. Someone said, ‘Well have you ever thought of doing this?’ So we messed around with it for five minutes, and I think that was the first take.”

Although his solo career is going well, thanks to Speechless, the Everly Brothers tour is Lee’s main concern these days. He’s been playing with the two of them for three years now, and used to play with Don Everly during the ’70s when the brothers were apart.

“It was natural that I should want to do the gig if they ever got back together again,” says Lee. “I’ve always liked them. They had big hits when I was in school.”

To hear the full audio of my 1986 interview with Albert Lee subscribe to my Patreon page, where you can also eavesdrop on my uncut, one-on-one interviews with:

Don Wilson of the Ventures, 1997
Gordie Johnson of Big Sugar, 1998
Trevor Rabin of Yes, 1984
Yngwie Malmsteen, 1985
Robert Cray, 1996
Tony Carey, 1984
Ian Hunter, 1988
Kate Bush, 1985
Jeff Healey, 1988
Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi, 1993
Colin Linden, 1993
Kenny Wayne Shepherd, 1995
Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues, 1986
Elliot Easton from the Cars, 1996
Wayne Kramer from the MC5, 2004
Bob Rock, 1992
Nick Gilder, 1985
Roy Buchanan, 1988
Klaus Meine of Scorpions, 1988
Jason Bonham, 1989
Tom Johnston of the Doobie Brothers, 1991
Joey Spampinato of NRBQ, 1985
Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers, 2003
Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash, 2003
Steve Kilbey of the Church, 1990
Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde, 1990
Dan McCafferty of Nazareth, 1984
Davy Knowles of Back Door Slam, 2007
Jimmy Barnes from Cold Chisel, 1986
Steve Stevens of Atomic Playboys, 1989
Billy Idol, 1984
Stuart Adamson of Big Country, 1993
Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, 1992
Warren Haynes of Gov’t Mule, 1998
John Bell of Widespread Panic, 1992
Robben Ford, 1993
Barry Hay of Golden Earring, 1984
Jason Isbell, 2007
Joe Satriani, 1990
Brad Delp of Boston, 1988
John Sykes of Blue Murder, 1989
Dave Mustaine of Megadeth, 1998
Alice Cooper, 1986
Lars Ulrich of Metallica, 1985
Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon, 1992
Myles Goodwyn of April Wine, 2001
John Mellencamp, 1999
Mike Campbell of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1999
Kenny Aronoff, 1999
Jon Bon Jovi, 1986
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1992
Little Steven, 1987
Stevie Salas, 1990
J.J. Cale, 2009
Joe Bonamassa, 2011
Rob Baker of the Tragically Hip, 1997
Tommy Emmanuel, 1994
John Petrucci of Dream Theater, 2010
Eric Johnson, 2001
Stu Hamm, 1991
Gene Simmons of Kiss, 1992
Ace Frehley from Kiss, 2008
David Lee Roth, 1994
Allan Holdsworth, 1983
John Mayall of the Bluesbreakers, 1988
Steve Vai, 1990
Tony Iommi of Heaven and Hell, 2007
Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, 1996
Geoff Tate of Queensryche, 1991
James Hetfield of Metallica, 1986
Rick Richards of the Georgia Satellites, 1988
Andy McCoy and Sam Yaffa of Hanoi Rocks, 1984
Steve Morse, 1991
Slash of Guns N’ Roses, 1994
Brian May from Queen, 1993
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1991
Jake E. Lee of Badlands, 1992
Rickey Medlocke of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1997
John Fogerty, 1997
Joe Perry of Aerosmith, 1987
Rick Derringer, 1999
Robin Trower, 1990
Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, 1994
Geddy Lee of Rush, 2002
Buck Dharma of Blue Oyster Cult, 1997
Michael Schenker, 1992
Vince Neil of Motley Crue, 1991
Vinnie Paul of Pantera, 1992
Steve Harris of Iron Maiden, 1988
Sebastian Bach of Skid Row, 1989
Rob Halford of Judas Priest, 1984
Bill Henderson of Chilliwack, 1999
Paul Rodgers, 1997
R.L. Burnside, 1999
Guthrie Govan of the Aristocrats, 2015
Mick Mars of Mötley Crüe, 1985
Carlos Santana, 2011
Walter Trout, 2003
Rudy Sarzo of Quiet Riot, 1983
Tommy Aldridge, 2001
Donald “Duck” Dunn, 1985
Mark Farner of Grand Funk, 1991
Chris Robinson of Black Crowes, 1990
Jennifer Batten, 2002
Mike Fraser, 2014
Leo Kottke, 2002
Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead, 2002
David Gogo, 1991
Booker T. Jones, 2016
Link Wray, 1997
James Reyne from Australian Crawl, 1988
Mike Rutherford of Genesis, 1983
Buddy Guy, 1991
Country Dick Montana of the Beat Farmers, 1990
Mike Cooley of the Drive-By Truckers, 2016
Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1986
Lindsay Mitchell of Prism, 1988
Buddy Miles, 2001
Eddie Money, 1988
Tom Hamilton of Aerosmith, 1983
Gaye Delorme, 1990
Dave Murray of Iron Maiden, 1984
Graham Bonnet of Alcatrazz, 1984
Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac, 2016
Doc Neeson of Angel City, 1985
Rik Emmett of Triumph, 1985
Sonny Landreth, 2016
Tosin Abasi of Animals as Leaders, 2016
Jeff Beck, 2001
Albert King, 1990
Johnny Ramone of the Ramones, 1992
Peter Frampton, 1987
Otis Rush, 1997
Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip, 1989
Leslie West of Mountain, 2002
Steve Howe of Yes, 2017
Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden, 1983
Uli Jon Roth, 2016
Poison Ivy of the Cramps, 1990
Greg Lake of ELP, 1992
Malcolm Young and Brian Johnson of AC/DC, 1983
Warren Zevon, 1992
Tal Wilkenfeld, 2016
Steve Clark of Def Leppard, 1988
Roy Buchanan, 1986
Gary Moore, 1984
Ronnie Montrose, 1994
Danny Gatton, 1993
Alex Lifeson of Rush, 1992
Ann Wilson of Heart, 1985
J.J. Cale, 1990
Yngwie Malmsteen, 2014
Chris Cornell, 2008
Long John Baldry, 1985
Allan Holdsworth, 1983
Kim Mitchell, 1984
Warren Haynes of the Allman Brothers, 1994
Derek Trucks, 1998
Susan Tedeschi, 1998
Joe Satriani, 2018
B.B. King, 1984
Albert Collins, 1985
Ronnie James Dio, 1985
Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath, 1984
Dick Dale, 2000
Greg Allman, 1998
Dickey Betts, 2001

….with hundreds more to come


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