Following the release of his first two successful solo albums, British vocalist-songwriter Gary Hughes was making the preparations to begin recording what was to be his third solo album. It was not long before the idea of an one disc album was dropped since Hughes ended up having written 28 songs, so not long after, it was decided to divide those tracks into two albums – one containing the heavier material, and one that would contain the ballads. Additionally, since the initial idea was to mix the album in the USA, many renowned guitarists were considered for the guitarist position, including Doug Aldrich, Lanny Cordola and Ralph Santolla.
However, when it was decided to lay down the guitar parts in England, the name of the guitarist Vinny Burns was brought up. The name was quite familiar to Hughes, since they both knew each other from quite a few years back. Given the fact that Mike Stone was assigned to mix the albums, the project quickly evolved into a band situation, thus marking the first official incarnation of Ten. During the first year of the band's existence, another ex-Dare member joined the band when Greg Morgan was brought in to fill in for the drummer position.
Early years (1996-2001)
The band's first album 'X' was released in May 1996 and was warmly acclaimed by the fans and the press, especially in the UK and Japan, where they were outselling huge rock bands, reaching sales of 100,000 records only during the first week of release so, in order to support the album for the tour that came soon after, the band recruited bassist Martin "Shelley" Shelton, keyboard player Ged Rylands and guitarist John Halliwell. With the songs already written, the band returned to the studio in order to finish their second album. 'The Name Of The Rose' was released in September of the same year (1996) and was even more successful than 'X', gaining enthusiastic reviews from the critics.
The title track was also voted "Song Of The Year" by the readers of BURRN! magazine in Japan and the band was voted as the "Brightest Hope".
With the success of the first two albums and the growing popularity of the band, the first full-blown tour was arranged for the end of 1996. Before the tour, bassist Martin "Shelley" Shelton left the band and was replaced by Andrew "Drew" Webb. After a successful tour, Ten (minus bassist Andrew "Drew" Webb) returned to the studio in order to record their next studio album. The mixing duties again were appointed to Mike Stone and 'The Robe' was released in September 1997. 'The Robe' marked a change in the overall sound of Ten, combining elements of the instantly recognisable melodic hard rock sound of the two previous albums and of powerful/epic atmospheres and influences.
With the addition of bassist Steve Mckenna, the band toured heavily for a year, in support of their newly released album, while in 1998 the band's Japanese label ZERO Records and the European label Frontiers Records released a double live album named 'Never Say Goodbye'.
Ten's popularity in Europe increased when the band signed to major label Mercury Records for the release of their fourth studio album, 'Spellbound'. The album was released in April 1999, was produced by Rafe Mckenna and was one of the most successful Ten albums in Europe. 'Spellbound' was also the first Ten album for which famous fantasy artist Luis Royo designed the cover.
In 1999, the band returned to the studio in order to begin the recordings of what was to be their fifth studio album. 'Babylon', which was released in August 2000 and featured keyboard player Don Airey, was a concept album which was set in the future and was based around the story of a computer programmer and his tragic love affair. Babylon, once again, proved to be another successful release for Ten and Gary Hughes, even entering the German Rock Album Charts.
Soon after, the band returned to the studio to record the follow-up album to Babylon, named 'Far Beyond The World', the recordings of which took place in Hannover, Germany, with Tommy Newton behind the mixing desk and ex-Hard Rain keyboard player Paul Hodson taking the place of Don Airey. In December 2001, Ten released Far Beyond the World; but just before the promotion of the new album had begun, guitarist Vinny Burns announced his departure from the band, citing creative differences.
Later years (2002-2007)
The band held auditions for the position of the lead guitarist, and in January 2002 announced Chris Francis as Burns’ replacement. During 2002 and 2003, the band took a break since Gary Hughes and the rest of the band had been working on Hughes' two-part rock opera project named 'Once and Future King', so Ten returned in the forefront again with the release of 'Return To Evermore' in 2004, initially through Gary Hughes' own record label Intensity Records, while in 2005 the band announced that they would release a double disk Best Of collection, aptly named 'The Essential Collection', in order to celebrate the band's tenth anniversary. 'The Essential Collection 1995-2005' featured newly recorded versions of the band’s songs, which were divided into two disks – one containing the ballads and one the heavier material.
In addition to The Essential Collection, the band announced the release of a new album in 2006 and so, in August 2006, the band released 'The Twilight Chronicles', which featured another change in the sound of the band, leaning towards a more symphonic sound. By then, the band consisted of Gary Hughes, Chris Francis, John Halliwell, Paul Hodson and session drummer Frank Basile, since bassist Steve Mckenna had left the band in December 2005. By 2007, Ten was put on a hiatus and by May 2008, lead guitarist Chris Francis had announced his departure from the band.
Re-emergence and "Isla De Muerta" (2010-2015)
On July 2010, it was announced that Gary Hughes and the rest of the band had been working on a new Ten album named 'Stormwarning', due to be released in early 2011 marking the band's return after 4 years of silence. The album featured members Hughes, John Halliwell, Paul Hodson, Neil Fraser and Mark Zonder (Fates Warning) and was produced by Dennis Ward. A month later, an unreleased song from the 'Babylon' sessions named "Dawn Star" appeared, as part of the AhORa Rock podcast of the Rocktopia music site. Originally, "Dawn Star" was meant to be the eleventh song on the Babylon album, but was removed from it three weeks prior to its final release.