50 years in the Spotlight and over 40 million albums sold is a testament to Uriah Heep who are counted alongside Led Zeppelin, Sabbath, and Deep Purple as the original Hard Rock Monsters.
Unfortunately, we lost Mr. Ken Hensley in 2020 but his music with URIAH HEEP and otherwise lives on. He was a special Human and very very kind to me. More on that as we go…
The Band was formed in London in 1969..under the name of Spice. Then the name was changed to that of the well-known character from Charles Dickens’s “David Copperfield”, Uriah Heep.
According to Dave Ling’s 2001 autobiography of the band, Wizards and Demons, The Uriah Heep Story, though the “Uriah Heep” moniker was chosen in December 1969, the band continued to play gigs as “Spice” until Ken Hensley joined in February 1970. Uriah Heep then decided to widen the sound. “We’d actually recorded half the first album when we decided that keyboards would be good for our sound.”
“ I was a big Vanilla Fudge fan, with their Hammond organ and searing guitar on top, and we had David Byron’s high vibrato vocals anyway so that’s how we decided to shape it,”Guitarist Mick Box recalled. Gerry Bron brought in session player Colin Wood, followed by Ken Hensley, a former colleague of Bassist Paul Newton.
“I saw a lot of potential in the group to do something very different,” remembered Hensley David Garrick was now Heep’s second Drummer and The lineup would release Their 1970 debut album, …Very ‘Eavy …Very ‘Umble (released as Uriah Heep in the United States).
The albums “Salisbury” and “Take a look at Yourself” followed. The First three were Praised by some and cut to Ribbons by others but the combo of Box, Byron, and Hensley was about to unleash some music that is a must-have for anyone who has ears.
Lineup changes as with so many bands occurred but “Demon’s and Wizards” with Lee Kerslake and Gary Thain in the Mix, set a new bar in Rock music.
No. 20 in the UK and No. 23 in the US in June 1972., Demons and Wizards was THE album spawning the single’s “Wizard” and “Easy Livin’ “ and the World was opening up to The Heep.
November 1972, Uriah Heep’s fifth studio album “The Magician’s Birthday” saw its release, with “Sweet Lorraine” released as an American single and the title track (a multi-part fantasy epic featuring Hensley–Byron vocal duel and Box’s extensive guitar solo in the middle) being the album’s highlight.
“Uriah Heep used to have an image, now they have personality,” wrote Melody Maker in 1973. .Hensley too developed into a sophisticated instrumentalist and stage persona, whose writing and keyboard Mastery pushed the rest of the band to excellence.
Personally “The Magician’s Birthday” is my Favorite Heep album. It stands up next to anyone’s work to this day.
Ṳr̤i̤a̤h̤ ̤H̤e̤e̤p̤–1972 — T̤h̤e̤ ̤M̤a̤g̤i̤c̤i̤a̤n s Birthday Full Album Deluxe Edition
Mick Box is one of the most underrated guitarists ever. He Can deliver Magnificent pieces of Power on tracks Like “Sunrise”, intricate and soulful lines as those in “Blind Eye” and take on slides in songs like “Spider-Woman” which are much like the works of The Doors Legend Robbie Krieger. Following up with his very own color of slide-in “ Echoes in the Dark”.
Uriah Heep – Sunrise 1973 “Tokyo” LIve Video HQ
Roger Dean’s Artwork is also stunning and becomes in some respects as vital as if he were Part of the Band itself. A Double Live Album followed. Shortly after the Album “Sweet Freedom” brought “Stealin’ “and success kept building
Uriah Heep Live at Shepperton 1974 (Remastered)
Success comes in time to lead to excess and Burnout. By 1974 member’s disappointment
In the result of the “Wonderworld” album as well as substance abuse and general exhaustion brought disasters. Matters came to a head while on tour during September,” when the bassist received a serious electric shock on stage in Dallas during a gig at Southern Methodist University’s Moody Coliseum on 15 September 1974. The rest of the US tour was then canceled and their UK dates were rescheduled to October.
Soon after going out of the hospital, Thain, in Sounds, openly accused manager Gerry Bron of having turned Uriah Heep into a mere “financial thing” and was fired two months after the group’s final gig of 1974 at New Theatre in Oxford, England on 14 December. A year later, on 8 December 1975, Gary Thain was found dead in his Norwood Green home, having overdosed on
8 more albums followed and some were Progressing and some not so much. By 1980 due to Managerial conspiracies and band member turnovers Galore, Ken Hensley Quit. This Left Founding Guitarist Mick Box with the Name of the band and contractual Obligations.
To their Credit be it musicians from King Crimson, The Spiders from Mars Bassist Trevor Bolder, others in and out the band has stayed Consistently working throughout every High Point and Roadblock right to Present Day.
The world additionally lost Lee Kerslake to cancer in the last year.
The Band recently released their 50-year celebratory box set “Every Day Rocks”.
Take a look inside the Uriah Heep ‘Every Day Rocks’ boxset
Roughly 25 studio albums and another 20 Live recordings Have Kept Uriah Heep in the Living Legend category. They are Touring even now with the last reported lineup.
In the early 1990s, Our Local Music store somehow put together a daytime seminar with Autograph Guitarist Steve Lynch and Ken Hensley. Ken was working as a Rep for St. Louis Music and he was extremely Genuine and Humble.
I was a nobody at that time but after the sessions were done I approached him for advice on dealing with the industry and how I could gain contact that would matter.
This man was a Rock N Roll Legend, yet he said “Let’s go sit a while.” The place cleared out and to my surprise, he and I had close to 90 mins of conversation to ourselves.
Before all was said and done he found a pen and gave me The Doors Ray Manzarek and Doors Rep Danny Sugarman’s home phone numbers, as well as His own.
He additionally reached in his briefcase and handed me a typed list of about 100 record label A&R numbers as well. I eventually tracked him down again through email years later and we had a few more talks. I have met and spent time with a few “Rock Stars” and been treated well, But Ken has a special place in my heart. He had zero reasons to do that.
He just was that sort of man. I do think he had the Biggest smile I’ve ever seen. Funny side note..our Local Newspaper claimed this event being held was “Not Newsworthy”.
Regardless of who is or was in the band Uriah Heep’s music is a treasure and if you haven’t explored their work There’s much to be found in almost any album. I’m just a super enthusiast of the “Demons and Wizards/ Magician’s Birthday “ Period of their work. It’s a great starting point to move on from to anything before or after.
What a Band. Hail Hail Rock N’ Roll!