Ten Years After Biography
Last updated: 11/08/2011 11:00:00 AM
Formed in Nottingham, England, as the Jaybirds in 1965, they abandoned their pedestrian title for a name that slotted in with the booming underground progressive music scene. The quartet of Alvin Lee (b. 19 December 1944, Nottingham, England; guitar, vocals), Chick Churchill (b. 2 January 1949, Mold, Flint/Clywd, Wales; keyboards), Ric Lee (b. 20 October 1945, Cannock, Staffordshire, England; drums) and Leo Lyons (b. 30 November 1943, Bedford, England; bass) played a mixture of rock 'n' roll and blues that distinguished them from the mainstream blues cognoscenti of Fleetwood Mac, Chicken Shack and Savoy Brown.
Their debut album was largely ignored and it took months of gruelling club work to establish their claim. The superb live Undead, recorded at Klooks Kleek club, spread the word that Lee was not only an outstanding guitarist, but he was the fastest by a mile. Unfortunately for the other three members, Lee overshadowed them to the extent that they became merely backing musicians in what was described as the Alvin Lee show. The band began a series of US tours that gave them the record of more US tours than any other UK band. Lee's furious performance of 'Goin' Home' at the Woodstock Festival was one of the highlights, although that song became a millstone for them.
Over the next two years they delivered four solid albums, which all charted in the UK and the USA. Ssssh, with its Graham Nash cover photography, was the strongest. 'Stoned Woman' epitomized their sound and style, although it was 'Love Like A Man' from Cricklewood Green that gave them their only UK hit. A Space In Time saw them briefly relinquish guitar-based pieces in favour of electronics. By the time of Rock 'N' Roll To The World the band were jaded and they rested from touring to work on solo projects. This resulted in Lee's On The Road To Freedom with gospel singer Mylon Le Fevre and a dull album from Chick Churchill, You And Me.
When they reconvened, their spark and will had all but gone and remaining albums were poor. After months of rumour, Lee admitted that the band had broken up. In 1978 Lee formed the trio Ten Years Later, with little reaction, and in 1989 the original band re-formed and released About Time, but only their most loyal fans were interested. The band was still active in the early 90s.