Ten Years After MORE THAN 50 YEARS LATER
GOLDMINE|April 2021
DRUMMER RIC LEE TALKS TO GOLDMINE ABOUT A TEN YEARS AFTER DELUXE EDITION OF THE A STING IN THE TALE ALBUM AND HIS RECENTLY RELEASED MEMOIR, FROM HEADSTOCKS TO WOODSTOCK.
MIKE GREENBLATT

When Ten Years After plugged in at Wood-stock, the Sunday monsoon had come and gone. We were all wet, tired, hungry, freezing and had to go to the bathroom. Plus, we sorta wanted to go home. It had been four days. But from the first notes of Howlin’ Wolf ’s 1960 “Spoonful” to the final cadenza of guitarist Alvin Lee’s iconic “I’m Going Home,” there are those who say it was the best set of the weekend.

Original TYA drummer Ric Lee has a new book out, From Headstocks to Woodstock. Ten Years After — with two original members in Lee and keyboardist Chick Churchill — have put out a deluxe edition of 2017’s A Sting in the Tale, complete with live tracks.

Quick timeline: Alvin Lee died at 68 in 2013. He had left the band to go solo in ’73, rejoining in ’89 to ’03, when he was replaced by Joe Gooch, who lasted until ’14. Enter Marcus Bonfanti, who sings and stings that guitar as frontman to this day. Bassist Colin Hodgkinson replaced original bassist Leo Lyons in ’14 and still holds down the bottom.

GOLDMINE: I don’t think I’ve ever seen Ten Years After when I wasn’t tripping.

RIC LEE: Really?

GM: Be it at the Fillmore East or The Singer Bowl in Queens, New York, on the site of the ’64 World’s Fair or at Woodstock, yeah. RL: Amazing. Well, you were young then.

GM: There was this one time I’ ll never forget. Alvin Lee’s hair turned into a lion’s mane as actual electric bolts of lightning emanated from his guitar all around me, and your drumming! Man, your drumming was like a locomotive breath of diesel steam. I saw the smoke come out of your snare! I couldn’t believe how fast you could drum. It must’ve been that version of Woody Herman’s “Woodchopper’s Ball” from your Undead album. Maybe it was “I’m Going Home.”

RL: It sounds like the Woody Herman cover we used to do because we used to play “I’m Going Home” much slower. I can’t play that fast anymore these days.

GM: You were like a runaway train, going out on a limb, but always returning to the beat. You blew me away and here we are talking about it 53 years later.

RL: Have you heard our Live at the Fillmore 1970 album?

GM: I don’t think so.

RL: You have got to get a copy of that! To my mind, that’s the band at its peak. I love the way Alvin and I were interacting. I never really realized how in sync I was with Alvin for all those years until 2001, when I found that album in the EMI vaults. I was getting fed up with them regurgitating all the old albums with nothing new for the fans. So we had a search. Found some tracks that were never before released. Found a whole live album, recorded at the Fillmore on February 27 and 28, 1970, just sitting there collecting dust. The reason it was never released is because we were plugging the Cricklewood Green studio album in 1970, so it got lost. (Producer) Eddie Kramer recorded it. He did a fantastic job. Chrysalis finally released it in 2018 on vinyl only. Pretty rare set, eh?

GM: Funny, but when I was a teenager, Ten Years After was MY band, but then when you guys got super-famous and had your biggest hit, “I’d Love to Change the World,” everybody loved it but me.

RL: That was Clive Davis. He signed us to Columbia after we had been on London Records at the time. Clive sits us down in his office and says, “I’m going to give you boys a gold record for the first time. But to do that we need a single.” So we do our sixth album, A Space in Time, in 1971, with that song and he turned it into a hit single making the album go gold just like he said. How about that?

I put the drums on that track after they already laid the tune down. I was ill. While I was away, they decided to lay down “I’d Love to Change the World.” Alvin strummed it on his acoustic. Dubbed his electric in later. We were in the same London studio where the Stones recorded. Studio #1 was huge because they did film soundtracks and needed to get whole orchestras in there. We were in Studio #2. I loved the sound there because of its natural ambiance. So it was just Chick, Alvin and Leo. Now, you have to realize, there were no click tracks in those days. Nowadays, they want everything to a click track so you only have to play one bar and then they use Pro Tools to cut and paste. Metallica does that. Lars Ulrich is a fine drummer, but all he ever plays on the records is one bar and it’s lifted for the duration of whatever track they’re doing. It’s just easier that way. We’ve done it ourselves on occasion.

Anyway, I show up and they tell me to play drums on this track they’ve already finished. I said, “Sure, I’ll have a go.” So I’m listening to the song’s fluctuation of tempo. I thought it quite nice, actually. But to put drums on something like that afterwards? I couldn’t figure out what the time signature was as it’s different on that song from the verse to the chorus. But all it took me was three takes! The drum kit was set up by the control room window, which was four steps down. I’ll never forget the sight of Alvin on the other side of that window egging me on and giving me the thumbs up. I can see him now. He had the biggest smile on his face. And I could barely hear him through the window yelling, “Yeah! You’ve got it!” I was always really proud of that.

GM: Is it true that you started in ’66 and named the band Ten Years After from its original name, The Jaybirds, because it was, indeed, 10 years after Elvis’s greatest year?

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM GOLDMINEView All

THE GRAND POOBAH!

SINCE THEIR INCARNATION in the early 1970s, the band Poobah have recorded over a dozen albums with various lineups, while openi ng for some of rock and roll’s biggest names.

9 mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021

THE MAKING OF PEARL

JANIS JOPLIN IN 1970: A NEW B AND AND THE MAKING OF HER CLASSIC ALBUM, PEARL.

9 mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021

There Must Have Been Something in the Water

If The Beatles never happened, if the British invasion never occurred, then music fans around the world would more than likely never have been exposed to some of the finest white blues singers that the U.K. produced between 1964 and 1970.

8 mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021

The SAGA Continues

SAGA WERE NOT THE ONLY band to make an album during the pandemic — far from it.

9 mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021

Ten Years After MORE THAN 50 YEARS LATER

DRUMMER RIC LEE TALKS TO GOLDMINE ABOUT A TEN YEARS AFTER DELUXE EDITION OF THE A STING IN THE TALE ALBUM AND HIS RECENTLY RELEASED MEMOIR, FROM HEADSTOCKS TO WOODSTOCK.

10+ mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021

SUZI QUATRO IS BACK!

WITH A NEW ALBUM, THE DEVIL IN ME, THIS PIONEERING FEMALE ROCKER REMAINS AS DRIVEN AND DETERMINED AS EVER

8 mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021

RE-SHAKE & RE-MAKE

WITH THE RERELEASE OF THEIR DEBUT ALBUM, SHAKE YOUR MONEY MAKER, THE BLACK CROWES FLY HIGH BY REFLECTING ON THEIR ROOTS.

10+ mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021

LOVE FOR PEARL

2021 will be a big year for fans of Janis Joplin. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland is curating a special exhibit devoted to her that is scheduled to open in May.

7 mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021

Q&A WITH JANIS' SIBLINGS, LAURA AND MICHAEL JOPLIN

Q&A WITH JANIS’ SIBLINGS, LAURA AND MICHAEL JOPLIN

4 mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021

CHERISHING CITY TO CITY A timeless classic by GERRY RAFFERTY

It’s early 1978 and the new single by Scottish singer-songwriter Gerry Rafferty, “Baker Street,” is blasting out on the airwaves on my small transistor radio.

10+ mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021
RELATED STORIES

Saving Youngstown. Again

One U.S. president after another has promised to turn this Rust Belt city around. Now Joe Biden is planning to steer millions of dollars in federal funding to revive manufacturing. So where are the jobs?

10+ mins read
Bloomberg Markets
June - July 2021

BIG POWER, BIG LUXURY, JUST PLAIN BIG

2024 GMC HUMMER EV SUV

4 mins read
Motor Trend
July 2021

Clearaudio Concept Active Wood

TURNTABLE

10+ mins read
Stereophile
June 2021

WALMART INVESTS IN GM'S CRUISE AUTONOMOUS VEHICLE SUBSIDIARY

Walmart and some institutional investors have joined the latest investment in Cruise, bumping the capital influx into the General Motors autonomous vehicle subsidiary from over $2 billion to $2.75 billion.

1 min read
Techlife News
Techlife News #494

AS CHIP SHORTAGE GOES ON, CARS ARE SCARCE AND PRICES ARE UP

For the next few months, Charlie Gilchrist figures his 11 car dealerships in the DallasFort Worth area will sell just about every new vehicle they can get from the factories — and at increased prices.

5 mins read
AppleMagazine
AppleMagazine #498

MINORS- SURVEY SAYS

Our annual survey of minor league operators highlights the ways in which things will never be the same

10+ mins read
Baseball America
May 2021

GM: SOFTWARE, NEW BATTERY PARTS WILL SOLVE BOLT FIRE ISSUES

Engineers at General Motors have figured out how to fix a battery problem with the Chevrolet Bolt electric hatchback that caused five of them to catch fire.

2 mins read
Techlife News
Techlife News #496

UNION, AUTOMAKERS HEADED FOR FIGHT OVER BATTERY PLANT WAGES

The United Auto Workers union is calling on General Motors to pay full union wages at electric vehicle battery factories, thrusting what had been a festering conflict into the spotlight.

4 mins read
AppleMagazine
AppleMagazine #495 *Special Edition

GOOGLE EARTH ADDS TIME LAPSE VIDEO TO DEPICT CLIMATE CHANGE

The Google Earth app is adding a new video feature that draws upon nearly four decades of satellite imagery to vividly illustrate how climate change has affected glaciers, beaches, forests and other places around the world.

2 mins read
Techlife News
Techlife News #494

ELECTRIC CHEVY PICKUP TO GET ESTIMATED 400 MILES PER CHARGE

An electric version of the Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck will get an estimated 400 miles of range per charge, General Motors says.

2 mins read
Techlife News
Techlife News #493