Though singer/guitarist Alvin Lee is the most famous member of the veteran blues-rock
band Ten Years After and the only one to tour steadily as a solo act, the band's other
three original members always came back to the fold when the British group reunited
periodically through the decades.
Besides Lee, Ten Years After is bassist Leo Lyons, drummer Ric Lee (no relation to
Alvin) and keyboardist Chick Churchill, who was born 50 years ago today in Mold,
Lyons and Alvin Lee were both young musicians in Nottingham, England, in the late '50s
and early '60s. Lee was proficient enough to play with blues legend John Lee Hooker,
and Lyons performed at the Windsor Jazz Festival. The two began touring Europe
together in a band in 1964 and, three years later, Ric Lee and Churchill joined them to
form Ten Years After.
Though Ten Years After was not a hit-making group, Alvin Lee's lightning-fast guitar
playing made the band a popular live attraction. In 1968, Ten Years After were a regular
act at the New York City club the Scene and San Francisco's Fillmore West, often
playing with Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin.
The band became most famous in the U.S. for Lee's extended guitar solo during the
song "I'm Going Home" at 1969's historic Woodstock festival in Bethel, N.Y. Lee's
wizardry was also a highlight of the "Woodstock" film. Ten Years After then enjoyed their
most commercial period with such hit LPs as 1969's Ssssh and 1970's
Cricklewood Green and Watt.
Ten Years After's biggest album was 1971's platinum-certified A Space in Time,
featuring their FM-radio favorite, "I'd Love to Change the World." The song was spacier
and more pop-oriented than the group's previous efforts and was a hit on both sides of
the Atlantic. Ten Years After then had minor hits with 1972's "Baby Won't You Let Me
Rock 'n' Roll You" and the following year's "Choo Choo Mama."
When the group took a break around this time, Churchill issued the solo album You
and Me. Lee began playing with a new band, making Ten Years After's Positive
Vibrations (1974) their last album for a decade and a half. Though Ten Years After
toured one more time, Lee spent the next years in groups such as Ten Years Later and
the Alvin Lee Band.
Churchill became a manager for Chrysalis Publishing. But in 1989, the four original
members of Ten Years After regrouped for About Time. The band then went into
limbo again, with only Lee issuing solo albums.
In 1998, Ten Years After's original roster reunited for "A Day in the Garden," the series of
concerts (also featuring other original Woodstock performers and additional acts, such
as Joni Mitchell and Goo Goo Dolls) held in Bethel, N.Y., to commemorate the 1969
concert at which Ten Years After, Jimi Hendrix and so many others made such a big