Event: Albert Lee at Regent Sounds
Tuesday 22nd September, and a rather special thing happened at Regent Sounds: a personal appearance by legendary British guitarist Albert Lee.
The wait in the queue outside before the doors opened was lightened by some lively conversation.
Shortly after 7pm we were let in and Crispin of Regent Sounds introduced Albert to the expectant crowd, letting slip that Lee had once recorded in the very room we were standing in.
Albert told his life story and also about his long relationship with event sponsors Ernie Ball Music Man, who make a model of guitar named after Albert Lee. Spread throughout the course of the evening, Albert played a few numbers on his guitar to prerecorded backing tracks, including his most famous song, Country Boy.
Now 71, his career began in 1959 and has seen him play regularly with the likes of Eric Clapton, The Everly Brothers, Emmylou Harris and Bill Wyman. He has seen success with his own bands, Head Hands and Feet and Hogan’s Heroes. As a Brit, since the 1970s he has carved out an unlikely niche as one of the most respected guitarists in the US country music scene.
Of particular relevance to this blog, Albert told us that he went to the Selmer’s shop on the Charing Cross Road to trade his first guitar, a Hofner President for a Czech-made Grazioso. Albert mistakenly believed that it was the same guitar used by Buddy Holly – the Fender headstock of Holly’s Stratocaster wasn’t visible on the cover of The Crickets’ debut album, The Chirping Crickets.
The Grazioso went with him on his first tour in 1960 with Dickie Pride, played through a single 10 watt Selmer amplifier shared with the bass player!
After restrictions on imports from the US to the UK were lifted in 1961, a return to Selmer on Charing Cross Road provided some better amplification, an American Supro, along with a Gibson Les Paul Custom. Jimmy Page liked what he heard Albert playing and went to Selmer to buy an identical rig – that same Supro amp was later used on the first Led Zeppelin album.