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Leo Lyons
Leo Lyons   
Profile:
Born in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire in November 1943, Leo became a professional musician at the age of 16 and as a founder member of the band Ten Years After has been an on-stage eyewitness to some of the most pivotal moments in Rock and Roll history.

In 1962 with his band The Jaybirds along with guitarist Alvin Lee he performed at The Star Club, Hamburg, Germany where only a week earlier The Beatles had polished up their act. Leo was hired to play in the club's house band with Tony Sheridan and yet still found time to guest at the Top Ten Club with guitarist Albert Lee.

Like The Beatles, The Jaybirds returned home to England, made the move from their hometown to London and secured their first recording contract with legendary record producer Joe Meek.

From 1963 to 1966, as well as playing and managing The Jaybirds, Leo worked as a session musician, toured as a sideman with pop acts of the day, appeared in a play in London's West End and played a residency with poll winning British Jazz Guitarist Denny Wright.

In 1967 with a name change to Ten Years After, a residency at London's famous Marquee Club and a debut album out on Deram Records, the band were soon to build up a huge following in Europe. Fillmore West and Fillmore East founder Bill Graham heard a copy of the band's first album and immediately sent a letter offering to book Ten Years After into his historic venues in San Francisco and New York. They were also one of the first rock groups to be part of the Newport Jazz Festival. At Newport and on tour TYA performed with Nina Simone, Roland Kirk, Miles Davis and other jazz legends barnstorming across the US.

In August of the same year their now legendary encore I'm Goin' Home was captured on film at The Woodstock Music and Arts Festival, exposing their jazz blues rock amalgam to an even larger audience of movie goers who were blown away by the intensity of the band's performance when the academy award winning documentary was released. Their ten-minute appearance in the film is an acknowledged highlight and established Ten Years After a place in rock history. Constant touring, playing important musical events like The Newport Jazz Festival, The Miami Pop Festival, The 1970 Isle of Wight Festival, The Toronto Peace Festival and venues like Madison Square Gardens NY, The Albert Hall London, The Forum LA and The Budokan, Tokyo, exposed the band's music to a Global Audience. Leo estimates that the band performed to in excess of 75,000 new fans a week. Almost four million people a year not counting those who saw the band in the film 'Woodstock'. Between 1967 and 1974, Ten Years After recorded and released ten multi-million selling albums. Sadly, Alvin Lee quit the band to go solo in 1975 and the group disappeared from the scene. However over the years, there's always been a demand for Ten Years After and there were three short-lived attempts at reformation and one new studio record, 'About Time'. But each time, Alvin quit to return to his solo career.

Leo's passion for the recording process led him into record production. In 1975 Chrysalis Records hired him 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 records for UFO, Magnum, Waysted, Procol Harem, Frankie Miller, Richard and Linda Thompson, Brigette St John, John Martin, Kevin Coyne, Sassafras, MotorHead, Hatfield and The North, The Bogie Boys, The Winkies, Chris Farlowe, Chevy and many more. Other projects include stage musicals, cartoon soundtracks, film and music videos. He also released two CDs with his own band Kick and his songs have been used in television and film.

After years of being of a workaholic Leo turned down all work offers, retired, bought a farm in the Cotswolds and settled down to enjoy a quiet life. Music was too much in his blood for him to be completely inactive and he continued song writing and recording in his home studio on the farm. His songs came to the attention of Nashville publishers Hayes Street Music who signed him as a staff writer and in 1998 after several years of commuting from the United Kingdom he moved to Nashville where he is active as a songwriter, musician and record producer/engineer.

In 1997 Ten Years After reformed after an invitation to play in Brazil. The reception from the Brazilian audiences was incredible and the band carried on performing for enthusiastic crowds on major festivals across Europe. On August 14th 1998, Ten Years After made a triumphant return to play the Woodstock Festival at Bethel, New York on the original sight of the first Woodstock Festival some 29 years earlier. The concert 'A Day in the Garden' was broadcast live to the World on the Internet. Info Seek reported that 57 million people logged on during the festival. Alvin Lee left the band again for the third and final time in 2000.

Leo continued writing and producing. He has been guest bassist on CDs by Savoy Brown and Leslie West and toured extensively in the United States with former Buddy Guy guitarist Scott Holt.

In 2001, to take advantage in the growing interest in legendary bands like Ten Years After, EMI and Decca Records digitally re-mastered and re-released the whole Ten Years After catalogue, most with bonus tracks, including a previously unreleased performance - the 1970 recording of the band live at the Fillmore East in New York. Ric and Chick approached Alvin with a view to touring to support the releases, but Alvin declined. It was a frustrating situation and once again it seemed that fans would be denied hearing the music played live.

A chance opportunity early in 2002 for the three founder members of Ten Years After - Leo Lyons (bass), Chick Churchill (keyboards) and Ric Lee (Drums) to work together gave them an insight into the intense, re-awakened interest in the band. With the addition of new member, sensational twenty-six year old guitarist/vocalist Joe Gooch the band reformed and are recreating the music, energy and excitement they've been known for over the past four decades. A live CD One Night Jammed was released to introduce the new line-up.

In May 2003 Ten Years After played an eighteen-date UK tour, the first in 25 years and this summer have barnstormed across Europe playing concerts and festivals in Germany, Italy, Holland, Belgium, Portugal, Austria and the Czech Republic. In 2004 a new studio cd NOW was released, followed by a live cd from the 2004 tour - Roadworks - and extensive touring has continued during 2005 and 2006, including many sold-out shows such as the one at the legendary BB King's in New York amongst others.

Leo's interests outside music include the paranormal, alternative medicine, martial arts and all new technology. He is a vegetarian, married with two grown up sons.


Website:
www.leolyons.org/index.html




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