Albert Lee: ‘Don’t Expect To Make A Fortune In Music Business’

AA legendary country rock guitarist Albert Lee, once called by Eric Clapton as “the greatest guitarist in the world”, is now 66 years old, but hasn’t slowed down in his musical career. During his tour of Australia, Ultimate Guitar’s Joe Matera caught up with Lee for an interview to discuss his solo career and to see if there is some money for musicians in this business.

Read an excerpt below.

You first started playing guitar in 1957, during the birth of rock and roll in Britain. What was it like being around guitarists at that time many of whom went onto to become icons; Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page to name a few?

Albert Lee

It was a wonderful time. We used to always meet up with each other around over in the west end of London. At the time, the music scene was relatively small, so you would run into everybody. And because we would also play the same number of clubs, word would get around where people would go, ‘wow this band has got a great guitar player’. So from that we would all end up knowing each other. I first knew Eric [Clapton] in the mid Sixties, while I had known Jimmy Page since 1961 when I was seventeen and Jimmy was sixteen. We would kind of just hang out together and play music.

Even after all these years, you continue to play countless shows, how important is the performing aspect to your success?

I think it is very important because one needs to play. I know it is a poor excuse, but I feel fortunate that I didn’t become a superstar where I could have a year off and not play which happened to so many guys. And because of that, I don’t think they have progressed.

But I have had to play constantly and I think it has paid off. I generally get my ideas and practice on the road and if I am off the road for a week or so, I’d probably play a local bar or local gig in Los Angeles [where Lee resides today] with friends of mine and so I get my practice on my feet. I am on the road more now than I have ever been so I cherish any moments I get to stay home and do domestic things and spend time with the family.

And when it comes to the amount of years you’ve been in this business, what advice could you offer?

Certainly don’t expect to make a fortune in this business. You have to do it for the love of it, though there have been people who have been totally dedicated to making money in this business and it works for them, I never was one of those.

I was always motivated by the music. And subsequently I never really made a lot of money but I have always worked quite comfortably.

Read more in the original UG article.