Early days and first UK hit
Blues-rock band Ten Years After is an English rock band, formed in Nottingham in the mid-1960s. The band comprised of guitarist/singer Alvin Lee (b. 1944 – d. 2013), keyboardist Chick Churchill, bassist Leon Lyons and drummer Ric Lee (no relation to Alvin).
Alvin Lee, Lyons and Ric Lee had played in a band under the name of The Jaybirds. In 1966, Churchill joined them and the new quartet named themselves Blues Trip. Honoring Elvis Presley, who was Alvin Lee’s idol, they changed their name Ten Years After for the reason that they were formed ten years after Elvis’ breakthrough year, 1956.
With a new manager in tow, the group then signed to Decca Records’ subsidiary imprint Deram. Ten Years After released their eponymous debut album in 1967 to little attention, but their follow-up LP two years later Stonedhenge (1969) became a UK Top 10 hit. It featured the six-minute track “I’m Going Home.”
US breakthrough success through Woodstock Festival
The band’s breakthrough moment in the US occurred when they performed at the Woodstock festival, performing a nine-minute version of “I’m Going Home.” Their Woodstock performance became quite legendary, leading to the American success of their next album Ssssh which reached the top 20 albums on the Billboard 200.
The follow-up LP Cricklewood Green (1970) was even more successful on the US Billboard 200, reaching #14. Its single “Love like a Man” barely trumped into the Hot 100 chart. It is interesting to note, too, that it was their only hit on the UK singles chart. 1971’s Watt became Ten Years After’s final Decca LP, registering at #21 on the Billboard 200.
The band had continued to appear in a variety of music festivals, including the Isle of Wight Festival and the Strawberry Fields Festival in Canada. Prior to their breakthrough gig in Woodstock, Ten Years After had played at the Seattle Pop Festival in 1969.
Subsequent records, and eventual split
The band signed a contract with Columbia Records and released their first album there, A Space in Time in 1971. It peaked at #17 on the Billboard 200, thanks to the Top 40 pop hit “I’d Love to Change the World.”
Their subsequent records — Rock & Roll Music to the World, Alvin Lee & Company, and Positive Vibrations — were less successful, and in 1974 they disbanded.
Reunion and Alvin Lee’s passing
Over a decade later, Ten Years After reunited for a series of tours around Europe and released the album About Time in 1989. In 1994, they took part in Eurowoodstock festival held in Budapest. A double live album Live at the Fillmore East 1970 was issued in 2001. When Alvin Lee refused to work with his former band mates, Ten Years After hired Joe Gooch as Lee’s replacement. With Gooch, the band recorded and released the album Now. Another live double album Roadworkswas released in 2005.
Alvin Lee still had continued to perform since his split from the band until his death in March 2013 due to “complications from a routine surgery,” according to Wikipedia.org. He was 68 years old.
In late 2013 or early 2014, Gooch and Lyons had left the band “to pursue other musical activities”, as it was announced on their official website.