Classic Rock Revisited presents an exclusive interview with...


Leo Lyons
of 10 Years After


I'd Love To Change The World... Right Now!
by Ron Bozich


Special thanks for this interview goes out to Dave & Brigitte from


Leo Lyons labored through the early sixties in the heart of the British rock alley between London and Hamburg Germany.  As an original member and founder of Ten Years After he has the illustrious credit of performing at the first Woodstock festival in 1969. He is a producer, engineer, worked as a studio manager, staff writer and song writer.

Within the last year Leo, along with former band mates Ric Lee and Chick Churchill have reformed Ten Years After. Their legacy began back in the late 60's and the group was jettisoned into stardom after their appearance at Woodstock. Minus the legendary guitarist and front man Alvin Lee from the original line-up the remaining members still maintain the spirit the group had back in the early days. Filling some large shoes is a 25 year old guitar player named Joe Gooch who has joined the group in the next generation of TYA. A fine compliment to rock-n-roll in that it lives in the hearts of present day generations long after its arrival. Read on as Leo tells his story about the new TYA, his professional rock career and shares his insight as to what's happening in the ever changing world of rock-n-roll.

--Ron Bozich, January 2003



Ron: Tell my what  you been up to these days.

Leo: I live here in Nashville, I've been here for 5 years and I've been working in country music. About two years ago, I went out on the road with a blues guitar player named Scott Holt. I think it was the male menopause actually, you know, traveling up and down America! (laughs). I enjoyed that and then in April of last year Ric Lee of Ten Years After called me and asked if I'd like to get together with a blues guitar player named Calvin Jones back in Europe and I said yes. We went over to Europe and what actually happened was a lot of Ten Years After fans came to see us play and they were asking us to play Ten Years After songs.

Ron: This sounds like the start of the reformation of TYA.

Leo: Yes we thought long and hard about it and we're always being asked to go play shows. After 27 years of waiting in the wings we decided to go and do it.

Ron: You just got back from England where you were recording the next TYA CD correct?

Leo: Well we just did a short tour of Europe just before Christmas and went in the studio straight after Christmas. We got three tracks finished and Ric unfortunately was ill in the middle of it and we didn't get as much done as we hoped. But everything sounds great!

Ron: Is everything OK with Ric?

Leo: Yes, oh yes he's fine. He had an infection of some sort, he didn't know what it was but he's recovering from it.

Ron: Are you getting back into the studio soon?

Leo: Yeah, people are asking us to do shows all over the place and basically what I like to do is go out and play live and fit the recording in around our show commitments. Initially we were hoping to release the record in May of this year in time for our U.K. tour. But it may be a little later now. What we are going to do is play the new material on stage.

Ron: What is the new TYA line-up now?

Leo: It's the same three guys, Chick, Ric, myself and the new guy, English guy, Joe Gooch.

Ron: I haven't heard of Joe, what caliber of guitar player is he?

Leo: He's phenomenal. He was recommended by my son, funny enough, who's a friend of his. Only not wanting it to sound like nepotism, I asked Joe to send a tape to Ric and let Ric check it out.

Ron: Joe's a youngster then.

Leo: Yeah he's 25!

Ron: How does the new TYA compare to the original line-up?

Leo: The new TYA, I think, has captured the spirit that Ten Years After had in 1969. We got something to prove, we want to go somewhere and we're having one hell of a time doing it. We're not a bunch of old farts who have gotten together to see if we can earn a bit of money. That's never been my intention.

Ron: I wanted to talk to you about your early career, The Jaybirds, did you do any recording with that group?                 

Leo: Yes we did and I couldn't tell you if any of it was released or not. As far as I know they could be sitting in a box somewhere.

Ron: You played in a house band with Tony Sheridan and during that time you crossed paths with The Beatles several times.

Leo: Alvin was a friend of George Harrison's and I've met them a few times. Every band was doing pretty much the same thing in the 60's, living in the north of England, trying to break into London and traveling up and down. The big thing was, you know, the Star Club opened up in Hamburg and so did the Top Ten and several others. Bands went out there and The Beatles or the Liverpool bands were approximately the first bands to go out there. Alvin and I were playing a show somewhere up north and the piano player from Tony Sheridan's band, Roy Young, was looking for bands to go to Hamburg and that's how we got over there.

Ron: Let's fast forward to 1967, TYA is formed, you release a couple albums, you're invited to perform at Woodstock in 1969 and that performance jettisons TYA into stardom.

Leo: Yes it did. It opened all the minor markets, you know, some town that neither of us has heard of and has a 10,000 seater auditorium and we could do it on a Wednesday night and fill it.

Ron: A few bands got good visibility at Woodstock CSNY..

Leo: Yes and Santana.

Ron: Speaking of Carlos he admitted to taking Acid and tripping during his performance.

Leo: I think Carlos took it voluntarily but I mean there was so much Acid floating around. When we got there, Pete Townshend came up to me and said "don't eat or drink anything unless it's from a sealed can". (laughs)

Ron: Did you guys enhance your performance any?

Leo: I certainly didn't, no. I think if I'd have taken Acid I'd have never come back.

Ron: Leo my favorite Ten Years After album is A Space in Time probably because it was my first but what would you say is your favorite album?

Leo: It's difficult to say; maybe the next one.  I always thought a good representation was the Recorded Live album, because it was the band without the restrictions of the studio. I think an innovative record at the time was the Sssh record where we were doing all kinds of sound effects and weird things, so I'd put that one down too.

Ron: TYA split in 1975, then reunited for the 25 year anniversary of the Marquee Club...

Leo: We did three or four shows...

Ron: And then reunited again in 1988 and then again in 1997...

Leo: It happens every ten years more or less...

Ron: I know you've been asked this before but why won't Alvin stay in the band?

Leo: I have and basically it's because he doesn't want to. He and I have worked together since we were 16 years old. We're like brothers in many respects. But I want to do other things and he doesn't basically. If he works with Ten Years After then I'm sure I'll put the pressure on him to get some new material, lets go here, lets go to Timbuktu, lets go everywhere and he chooses not to do things like that. So when we got back together on those periods it was really because it suited him to do it in that particular moment in time.

Ron: I've always been curious about the marketing of the band name. At one point Ten Years After became Alvin Lee and Ten Years After why was that?

Leo: That was a conscious decision, with Alvin's approval, I'm sure made by our Record Company at the time. One can speculate as to why, I think it was the era of the guitar hero. I have been told from people that worked in the label at the time, "well it's easier to control one guy than four". (laughs). I do know that at that particular period in time, we were told that, Alvin was going to do all of the interviews. He was built up as a figure head. The guy is a talented player and as a singer and guitar player you would expect it to be that way.

Ron: In 1975 your were hired by Chrysalis Records to manage and re-quip the Wessex studios in London. What equipment were you using back then?

Leo: It was the Neve consoles, Ampeg tape machines, Neumann, Tannoy monitoring all the usual stuff. When I was at Wessex some of Queens, "Bohemian Rhapsody" was recorded there. Some of the Sex Pistols stuff was recorded there too.

Ron: How did that equipment compare to the early sixties when you were recording?

Leo: Quite different, I mean, when we started recording it was 4-track recording and it was mono. Bands weren't allowed to go into the control room, the playback was through a speaker in the studio.

Ron: And now the technology changes have really put distance between now and those days...

Leo: Yeah it's ridiculous. The last two records I've worked on have either been on Pro Tools or Radar. I mean now for $8000 you can have an absolutely incredible recording studio.

Ron: Leo you've produced groups such as, UFO, Procol Harum and Motorhead just to name a few, what is the dynamic between you and the bands in the studio?

Leo: A producer has to get the best out of the artist, make it as comfortable as possible and help them with the material. It really depends what you have to do. I do whatever I have to do. Some producers say these are my songs, this is how you're going to play them and play this. I don't do that.

Ron: CRR's Shelly Harris did an interview with Pete Way not too long ago and you've worked with Pete...

Leo: Oh yes many times!

Ron: What was the dynamic in the studio between two bass players like you and Pete?

Leo: When you're the producer you are the sounding board. I mean people are going to take guidance from you or it's a waist of time being in the studio. I like to hear what people are going to do before I tell them what to do. And hopefully I've picked the right project to work on and the artist picked the right producer. You're going to be somewhere along the lines of asking and encouraging and getting the best performance. You're not going to be fighting for every point.

Ron: Your solo album Tough Trip Through Paradise 1996, how'd you come up with that title? I'm speculating, was it the rock-n-roll lifestyle or the TYA experience?

Leo: I just heard so many rich people bitching about insuring their paintings! (laughs) You know, I heard someone saying, "I have to keep my paintings in a vault because the insurance is too high".

Ron: L.A. Guns and Slade covered "I'd Love To Change The World" and "Here Me Calling" respectively, how does it feel to have groups of that caliber cover your songs?

Leo: Of course the Slade thing was years and years ago. Umm... I don't know I mean... I guess that's great. I think it's flattering.

Ron: What's the tour schedule for TYA this year?

Leo: Jan. 29th I start another run of dates starting in Italy and going through Belgium, Germany and Holland.

Ron: How about the U.S.?

Leo: Working on it. Obviously I'd like to do the U.S. because I live here. We've talked to a few people about it.

Ron: You know the tribute band issue comes a lot these days and in my personal opinion if a band is out there playing then good for them...

Leo: That's right. We're not a tribute band, we're Ten Years After.

Ron: Yeah you have 75% of the original guys, I guess when it gets down to 1 member of four then it becomes an issue of debate. But I still say I don't care if you're out there playing with one guy, good for you, you have my support...

Leo: Best thing that I found going out in April was people didn't really care. I mean up to a point, unless you were trying to delude them, which obviously is not the interest of who's in the band, they want to hear those songs. They want to hear those songs that they remember. But that's not enough for us, we want to do something new because that's the spirit in which we started out initially.

Ron: You're doing that right now seeing how you're in the studio recording new material...

Leo: That's right. When we go out at the end of this month there will be three songs that we've never played live before.

Ron: Where do you think rock music is headed?

Leo: It's difficult to say. When you think about the sixties it was underground music until the FM radio stations started you never heard it on radio. Yet there were all these bands happening. I mean, if you look at Woodstock for example; who was the pop act at Woodstock?  I guess it was The Who and that's no disrespect to them but they were the only band at that time that was on AM radio. I don't think any of the other bands that were there were on AM and that changed. So it could change again. From what I see when I'm out on the road and talking to young people, the guitar is back. Your getting a lot of guitar bands now if you look at the alternative rock scene, there are a lot guitar players it's not synthesizers. Bands like Nickelback for example. And of course Aerosmith, you know, the figure head of it all they're still up there aren't they?

Ron: Leo that about wraps it up for me is there anything else that you'd like to add?

Leo: I'd like to say thank you to you and to everybody out there that's supported us over the years. And I hope that they are going to come out and check out the new band.

Ron: Thank you Leo. Everyone at CRR wishes you, Ric, Chick and Joe the most success with the new CD and the current tour schedule. Please send us a copy of the CD when its done so we can give it a review when it's ready...

Leo: Will do.

Pictures of Leo Lyons by Brigitte and Dave a fan page dedicated to Ten Years After.

Visit Leo on line at and drop him an email!


    Classic Rock Revisited


Thanks to Ron Bozich  for supporting  Ten Years After - Leo Lyons, Chick Churchill, Ric Lee and Joe Gooch
Thanks to Jeb and Patty Wright for their support of Ten Years After and our website (Dave and Brigitte)

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