Albert Lee’s scene is cars. He tells me “I like to mess around with cars. They can be really frustrating, but really rewarding if you can get it running yourself without spending a fortune.”
Lee’s speaking to me from Southern Germany, on the Danube. He says “It’s beautiful here. I’ve got a view out of my window looking down the river. It’s quite amazing, the sun’s shining.”
His next stop is Australia. He’s on his way to appear at the Melbourne, Sydney & Adelaide Guitar Festivals, as well as the Gympie Muster.
He spends a lot of time on the road these days, more than ever before. He tells me “I’m away from home more and more each year. It just gets to be a bit much sometimes. This is what I opted to do in my career, and I’m thankful in a way that the work is still here at my age. People still want to come out and see the show, see the gigs.”
In terms of a band “I’m bringing over a couple of guys from L.A. and one from England. In fact my U.S. drummer couldn’t make it because he works in another band as well, and they are going to be busy in August, so I brought my drummer from England that I work with, and it’s gonna be fun.
I’ve done a couple of live albums recently, actually. A friend of mine, he’s a videographer. He said, “Yeah, yeah, I think we should record the show again. My son is playing piano with me. And he doesn’t work with me that often because he’s got a real job.”
Lee has been endorsed by Ernie Ball for many years. He’ll be playing his Ernie Ball signature model guitar on this tour.
He states, “I’ve been involved with the company since the early 70s when I first went to America. And in the 80s they started making electric guitars. I’ve got one that they designed and then not long afterwards they put my name on it. So, I’ve had a signature guitar now for a few years. Which is an honour because they’re such good guitars. I’ve had offers over the years about putting my name on a guitar, but I’d always held off. I’d say, “Well, I think Ernie Ball might do one pretty soon for me, and I’d rather wait for that, really because of being involved with them for so many years.”
What started you playing?
“I always loved music and bashed away at the piano when I was eight or nine. And then my folks had me take piano lessons and I did quite well, considering I didn’t practice. I was learning some classical pieces and whatever, but the teacher eventually gave up on me. She went to my parents and said, “Well, he’s not practising, I think you’re wasting your money.” But I think it was money well spent, because I do have a great appreciation of the piano. When I picked up a guitar two years later, I had an understanding of music and the structure of it. So I actually played guitar for about 18 months without actually owning one. I used to borrow them from school friends.
My folks realised that I was really loving to play, so for my 15th birthday I got a pretty decent German guitar. An arch top guitar. And all of a sudden it’s strange for me, because prior to that all the guitars I’d played, or tried to play, weren’t very good at all. But this was actually playable.”
Lee has toured with many big names over the years, notably Eric Clapton and Emmylou Harris, but his favourite group to tour with were the Everly Brothers.
“I was with the Everly Brothers for 26 years. Not only was the band really good but working with the Everly Brothers was just fantastic. And they’re really great friends for all those years. In fact when they weren’t speaking to each other, I was working with Don Everley and actually singing with him, so I was an Everly Brother.
I’ve been with some really good outfits, but looking back on the Everly Brothers was a really important part of my life.”
We talk about songs and songwriters.
“I’m a big fan of Jimmy Webb. In fact, he’s playing Melbourne the night I’m playing so I’m going to miss it. I’ve known him for quite a few years. I did send a message to him saying that I was going to be down there but there’s no way I can see him play, but maybe he can get to one of my gigs. You never know.”
Albert Lee will be on tour in Australia throughout August.
ALBERT LEE & BAND – LIVE IN AUSTRALIA, AUGUST 2018
Sat 4 (day) – Melbourne – Melbourne Guitar show
Sat 4 (evening) – Melbourne – Caravan Club
Sun 5 – Melbourne – The Skylark Room, Upwey
Wed 8– Melbourne – Flem-Ken Bowling Club, Flemington
Thur 9 – Melbourne – Thornbury Theatre
Fri 10 – Meeniyan – Meeniyan Hall
Sat 11 – Adelaide – Adelaide Guitar Festival
Sun 12 – Perth – The Charles Hotel
Wed 15 – Blue Mountains NSW – Blue Mountains Theatre
Thur 16 – Canberra – The Basement
Fri 17– Sydney – Brass Monkey
Sat 18 – Sydney – Sydney Guitar Festival
Sun 19 – Sydney – Sydney Guitar Festival
Tues 21 – Newcastle – Lizotte’s
Wed 22 – Central Coast – The Art House in Wyong
Thur 23 – Brisbane – The Zoo
Fri 24 – Gold Coast – Sound Lounge
Sat 25 – Gympie – Gympie Muster