They began as The Jaybirds in 1962 with guitarist Alvin Lee, the magnificently-named bassist Leo Lyons, vocalist Ivan Jay and drummer Dave Quickmire. After several years of local success in the Nottingham-Mansfield area of England, Quickmire was replaced on drums by Ric Lee in August of 1965. The band moved to London in 1966 where they were joined by keyboardist Chick Churchill. Ivan Jay subsequently left the band leaving Alvin Lee as default lead singer. The band changed their name to Blues Trip, then Blues Yard before finally settling on Ten Years After. The group became the first act to be handled by the fledgling Chrysalis Agency, which secured them a residency at The Marquee Club. They were later invited to play at The Windsor Jazz Festival in 1967, and their perfomance there led to them being signed to the Deram Label, a subsidiary of Decca,the first band the company ever signed without a hit single to it's credit . In October of 1967 the band's self-titled debut album was released. In 1968, following a tour of the U.S. and Scandinavia, the band's second album, Undead was released. The album was recorded live, and featured what was to become Ten Years After's signature song and one of the most if not THE most lasting impression of the subsequent Woodstock feature film and soundtrack, "I'm Going Home".
The Woodstock performance raised the band's profile profoundly, making them true superstars. During 1970, the band's fifth album Cricklewood Green was released. The album's name came from a friend living in Cricklewood, London who grew plants at his home that caused hallucinogenic effects. The plant was nicknamed Cricklewood Green. It was also the first record to contain two different playing speeds, 33 and 1/3 on one side and 45 rpm on the other. It also featured the group's only U.K. singles chart hit , "Love Like A Man".
1970 also saw the band appearing at The Strawberry Fields and Isle of Wight Festivals. They switched labels in 1971 to Columbia Records upon which their most commercially successful album A Space In Time was released, featuring the group's biggest hit, "I'd Love To Change The World". This album was followed on Columbia by the releases of
1972's Rock And Roll Music To The World, 1973's double live collection Ten Years After Recorded Live, and their final album for the label 1974's Positive Vibrations. The band broke up soon after.
The band reunited in 1983 to play The Reading Festival and again in 1988 for a few shows and to record the album About Time. In 1994, they performed at The Eurowoodstock Festival in Budapest.
Alvin Lee recorded as a solo artist for many years while the band still continues as Ten Years After with Joe Gooch doing a repectable job in Lee's place on guitar and vocals.
Sadly, on March 6, 2013 Alvin Lee died as a result of complications during a surgical procedure. He was 68.