Tag Archives: Ten Years After

Bassist Leo Lyons

Bassist Leo Lyons

Leo Lyons

Happy birthday
November 30, 1943
I am (and most of you are) certainly aware of and love Ten Years After's "I'm Goin' Home" performance at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair (I didn't hear it as I had already gone home). And we know that it was Alvin Lee up front on guitar, but how many of us know and could name the other band members: Ric Lee on drums, Chick Churchill on keyoards, and Leo Lyons on bass.

I should. We should.

Bassist Leo Lyons

David William "Leo" Lyons was born in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. grew up in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire England, a mining town where most of his male relatives worked in those mines. 

An uncle and aunt had a wind up gramophone and he played all their collection.  He loved country music legend Jimmy Rogers and blues legend Leadbelly.

His first instrument was his grandfather's old banjo. He did take guitar lessons later and played with friends with his guitar's four bottom strings. He became a bassist.

When he was 16, the manager of a local band called the Atomites (it was the dawning of the nuclear age remember) asked Lyons to join the band. His first gig was a local dance hall and the experience hooked him.

Alvin Lee replaced the Atomite's guitar player and later the band changed its name to the Jaybirds. In 1961 the Jaybirds went to London seeking success. They didn't find it and most of the band members left. 

Later drummer Ric Lee joined, then Chick Churchill.  

From 1963 to 1966 Leo did it all. He played and managed the Jaybirds, worked as a session musician, toured as a sideman with pop acts, appeared in a play in London's West End, and played a residency with British jazz guitarist Denny Wright.

Ten Years After

In 1967 the Jaybirds became Ten Years After and began a residency at London's Marquee Club. Their debut album followed. 

Bill Graham heard that album and invited them to play at his venues. They were also one of the first rock groups to be part of the Newport Jazz Festival.  That experience led them to play with such luminaries as Nina Simone, Roland Kirk, and Miles Davis.
Woodstock Music and Art Fair
It is likely that Ten Years After would have had its great  success even without its performance at Woodstock and its inclusion on both the album and movie, but those inclusions supercharged that likelihood. 

The band broke up (temporarily) after their final recording,  Positive Vibrations, in 1974.

Post After

In 1975 Chrysalis Records hired Lyons as studio manager to re-equip and run Wessex Studios in London. He was later to go on and build two commercial studios of his own. He has produced dozens of records. 

Other projects include stage musicals, cartoon soundtracks, film and music videos. 

Aside from writing and producing, Leo has been guest bassist on CDs by Savoy Brown. Leslie West, Fred Koller, Danny Johnson and has toured extensively with former Buddy Guy guitarist Scott Holt.

He played with Ten Years After when that band occasionally reformed but left again in 2013 to remain full time with the band he'd helped form in  2010: Hundred Seventy Split.

Lyons now lives in Nashville, Tennessee. Lyon's site

Bassist Leo Lyons, Bassist Leo Lyons, Bassist Leo Lyons


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Keyboardist Chick Churchill

Keyboardist Chick Churchill

Keyboardist Chick Churchill


Keyboardist Chick Churchill

Ten Years After

Michael George “Chick” Churchill was born on January 2, 1946 in Ilkeston, Derbyshire.

Chick  began playing piano when he was six and was doing classical studies until he met the blues in 1961.

While part of the Sons of Adam, he met Alvin Lee whose band then was called the Jaybirds.

Churchill joined first as a road manager and then as a keyboardist.

The band evolved into Ten Years After and concert promoter Bill Graham invited the band to tour America for the first time in the summer of 1968. Ten Years After would ultimately tour the USA 28 times in 7 years, more than any other U.K. band.

Keyboardist Chick Churchill
Ten Years After

Keyboardist Chick Churchill

Summer of 1969

During the summer of 1969, they performed at  6 major festivals, including  the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. Of course their performance of “Goin’ Home” at Woodstock and the song’s inclusion in both the film and on the album established their fame. (I wonder how many times the band performed that song that summer?)

I recently contact Chick and he generously responded with the following:  Woodstock seems so long ago now but I remember the huge audience and the helicopter journey. I think we went on after the rain storm. Everything was wet and I don’t think health and safety would allow it now but we survived. 

Keyboardist Chick Churchill

In 1971, Chick released a solo album,  You and Me. 

Post Ten Years After

When  Ten Years After disbanded in 1976 Chick Churchill became professional manager at Chrysalis Music.

In 1977 he began a partnership with Tim Whitsett as Whitsett Churchill Music Publishing. The company specialized in promoting American artists from southern states.

Neither Alvin Lee nor Ten Years After are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The band has a Facebook page (FB page) and had this December 17, 2016 post: A great sold out show to end the year last night in Belgium. Fantastic audience, thanks so much to everyone who came down and enjoyed the night with us what a great way to send off 2016. We don’t get long to relax though, we are back out on the road on January 5th to start a year of shows celebrating the 50th anniversary of our first album and the release of our new studio album later in the year. See you in the new year…

Keyboardist Chick Churchill

Bio from TYA site >>> Churchill bio

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Remembering Alvin Lee

Remembering Alvin Lee

December 19, 1944 — March 6, 2013

Happy Birthday Alvin Lee

And if you say Alvin Lee or Ten Years After, most music fans will say, “I’m Goin’ Home” and think of his Woodstock Music and Art Fair performance.

Happy birthday Alvin Lee

It likely surprised Lee that he garnered so much fame from that song’s particular performance.  An albatross laying a golden egg. He was already a great guitarist when he began his trek along 1969’s festival trail. How many times did he play “I’m Going Home” before Woodstock that summer?  Likely dozens of times.

Busy Band

Here’s there North American tour list just for June and July:

  • July 4, Newport Jazz Festival
  • July 5, Action House, Island Park, NY
  • July 12, Laurel Pop Festival, Maryland
  • July 13, Singer Bowl, NYC
  • July 16, Schaefer Music Festival, Wollman Skating Rink  NYC
  • July 22 – 24, Fillmore West, San Francisco
  • July 25,   Seattle Pop Festival
  • July, 17, Balboa Stadium, San Diego
  • August 2, Tea Party, Boston
  • August 16, St Louis

The Pinnacle 

Their Woodstock performance was Sunday evening on August 17. Following that they went to:

  • Aug 20, The Catacombs, Houston
  • Aug 24, The Rose Palace, Pasadena, CA
  • Aug 26 > 28, Fillmore West, San Francisco
  • Sept 1,  Texas International Pop Festival
  • Sept 12 – 13, Fillmore East, NYC

The music never stopped

After the Fillmore East dates, they flew back to do a European tour and did 20 more concerts! By the way, they’d already had done 40 European and American before returning for the summer of 1969. (complete list)

And while they may not have played “I’m Goin’ Home” at every gig, surely many heard it again and long before the album cut or the movie scene appeared in 1970.

But its filming at Woodstock preserved it and sent it worldwide. His name was and will forever be associated with that song and that performance.

Remembering Alvin Lee

Some  facts about Lee:

  • he was originally influenced by his parent’s collection of jazz and blues records
  • began playing guitar age 13
  • by aged 15 his Jaybirds band formed the core of Ten Years After
  • moved to London and changed the band’s name to Ten Years After in 1966
  • the band’s performance at the Windsor Jazz & Blues Festival in 1967 led to their first recording contract.
  • October 1967. Release of Ten Years After, the band’s first album.
  • concert promoter Bill Graham who invited the band to tour America for the first time in the summer of 1968. Ten Years After would ultimately tour the USA 28 times in 7 years, more than any other U.K. band.
  • Ten Years After had great success, releasing ten albums together between 1967 and 1973.
  • after the breakup of Ten Years After, Lee continue to form bands and record music.
  • Lee’s overall musical output includes more than 20 albums.
  • neither Alvin Lee nor Ten Years After are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Alvin Lee website

Lee died on March 6, 2013. (NYT Obit)

Remembering Alvin Lee

Remembering Alvin Lee
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