Joey Alves, founding rhythm guitarist with veteran hard-rock group Y&T, died Sunday (March 12) after a struggle with ulcerative colitis and other complications. He was 63.
Y&T frontman Dave Meniketti, who established the group in the early ’70s with Alves, bassist Phil Kennemore, and drummer Leonard Haze, paid tribute to his late bandmate as “a rhythm guitar monster and fun guy.”
In a social media post, Meniketti recalled Alves as “one of the finest rock rhythm guitarists, and I’ll always remember playing next to him chunking out those monster chords with his classic red double cutaway ‘59 Les Paul Jr. As Ronnie Montrose once said about Joey, ‘There are rhythm players, then there’s Joey. A class of his own…”
He also described his friend as “a fun guy who always played with attitude and conviction, and was responsible for writing some memorable riffs for Y&T over the years. His friendship and presence will be missed. This is a great loss for all the Y&T family and faithful.”
Meniketti also posted a clip from the forthcoming documentary On With the Show, in which Alves speaks of the kinsmanship of being in a rock band. “You can’t break that kind of bond. I mean, you’re closer to those people than you are to your own family,” says Alves in the video, which can be seen below.
“Seeing Joey on the screen while knowing he was not long for this earth was a shock to me at first, but hearing what he said in this clip really touched me. What he said is so right and I wanted to share this,” writes Meniketti.
Y&T, formerly known as Yesterday and Today, formed in Oakland in 1972 and released their self-titled debut album in 1976. The group found new popularity in the ‘80s with singles “Mean Streak” and “Summertime Girls” (the latter reaching No. 55 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1985) and toured with artists like AC/DC, Ozzy Osbourne and Aerosmith. Y&T landed three albums on the Billboard 200: Mean Streak (No. 103 in 1983), Open Fire (No. 70 in 1985) and Down For The Count (No. 91 also in 1985).
Meniketti is the only surviving member of the original incarnation of Y&T. Kennemore died in 2011 after a battle with lung cancer and Haze passed away in 2016 after a years-long battle with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.