Years: Dec, 1969 - present
Styles: Classic Rock, Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Progressive Rock, Psychedelic Rock
Alex Napier - Drums (in band: 1969 - 1970)
Paul Newton - Bass Guitar, Vocals (in band: 1969 - 1971)
David Byron - Vocals (in band: 1969 - 1976)
Ken Hensley - Acoustic guitar , Electric piano, Guitar, Hammond organ, Harpsichord, Moog synthesizer, Percussion, Piano, Slide guitar, Synthesizer, Tubular bells, Vibraphone , Vocals (in band: 1969 - 1980)
Mick Box - Acoustic guitar , Backing vocals, Guitar (in band: 1969 - present)
Dave Rimmer - Bass Guitar (in band: (2013–present)
Nigel Olsson - Congas, Drums (in band: 1970)
Keith Baker - Drums (in band: 1970)
Ian Clarke - Drums (in band: 1970 - 1971)
Mark Clarke - Bass Guitar, Vocals (in band: 1971 - 1972)
Lee Kerslake - Drums, Kazoo, Percussion (in band: 1971 - 1979; 1981 - 2007)
Gary Thain - Bass Guitar (in band: 1972 - 1975)
John Wetton - Bass Guitar, Electric piano, Mellotron, Vocals (in band: 1975 - 1976)
John Lawton - Vocals (in band: 1976 - 1979)
Trevor Bolder - Bass Guitar (in band: 1976 - 1981; 1983 - 2013)
Chris Slade - Drums (in band: 1979 - 1981)
John Sloman - Vocals (in band: 1979 -1980)
Peter Goalby - Guitar, Vocals (in band: 1981- 1985)
Bob Daisley - Bass Guitar (in band: 1982 - 1983)
John Sinclair - Backing vocals, Guitar, Keyboards, Synthesizer (in band: 1982 - 1986)
Steff Fontaine - Vocals (in band: 1986)
Phil Lanzon - Keyboards (in band: 1986 - present)
Bernie Shaw - Vocals (in band: 1986 - present)
Russell Gilbrook - Drums (in band: 2007 - present)
Gregg Dechert - Keyboards (in band: Sep, 1980 - Mar, 1981)
Uriah Heep formed in London, England in early 1970 by guitarist Mick Box and vocalist David Byron, who had both cut their proverbial teeth in mid 60’s outfit The Stalkers (Byron had also featured in a cover version hits compilation singing alongside Reg Dwight, er... Elton John!).
In 1968, the pair became Spice, having found musicians Paul Newton (ex-Gods), Roy Sharland and Alex Napier. A solitary 45 was issued on United Artists, "What About The Music" failing to sell in any substantial quantities, although it has since become very rare.
Taking their new moniker Uriah Heep, from a character in Dickens’ "David Coperfield" novel, the band enlisted some seasoned session musicians, Ken Hensley (ex-Gods, ex-Toe Fat) and Nigel Olsson (ex-Spencer Davis Group, ex-Plastic Penny) to replace Roy Sharland and Alex Napier. Now signed to Vertigo and on a hefty diet of hard rock that critics lambasted for allegedly plagiarising Led Zeppelin, Uriah Heep delivered their debut album "Very ‘Eavy, Very ‘Umble", in 1970. Although this did little to change music press opinions, the record contained at least two gems, "Gypsy" and a cover of Tim Rose’s "Come Away Melinda".
Drummer Keith Baker filled in for the Elton John bound Olsson, prior to their follow-up set "Salisbury" (1971), which, like its predecessor sold better in Germany and other parts of Europe. People were beginning to take Byron’s at times high-pitched warblings seriously, the classic track "Bird Of Prey" (which was criminally left off the US version), being a perfect example. Later that year, "Look At Yourself" (on the new Bronze imprint and featuring new drummer Ian Clarke) was released to some decent reviews, the celebrated 10 minute plus epic, "July Morning" (with an outstanding guest synth/keys spot from Manfred Mann), helping it to touch the Uk Top 40, while breaking the US Top 100.
A steadier formation was found while recording their fourth album, "Demons And Wizards" (1972), Gary Thain (ex-Keef Hartley Band) took over from short-stop Mark Clarke (who had replaced Newton in November ’71), while Hensley’s old mate Lee Kerlslake superseded Clarke. The results were outstanding, the disc going Top 30 and gold on both sides of the Atlantic, with tracks such as „The Wizard” and „Easy Livin” (also a Us Top 40 hit), Uriah Heep standards „The Magicians Birthday” (1972) did much of the same, lifted from the record „Sweet Lorraine” and „Blind Eye” both became minor US favourites.
1973 saw another two gold albums released, a live one and their first for Warner Bros in the States, „Sweet Freedom”, while Hensley even found time to releas a solo set, „Proud Words On A Dusty Shelf”. Their live disc contained a live rock’n’roll medley, featuring their interpretations of "Roll Over Beethoven", "Blue Suede Shoes", "Mean Women Blues", "Hound Dog", "At The Hop" and "Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ on", some of their more discerning fans awaiting 1974’s more sombre studio set, „Wonderworld”.
A bad period indeed for Uriah Heep, Thain was near-fatally electrocuted on stage in Dallas, Texas, subsequently resulting in major conflicts with the manager Gerry Bron. His personal problems and drug-taking (while recovering from his injuries) led to Uriah Heep being kept in a state of limbo for some months and after lenghty group discussions, Thain was finally asked to leave in Febrary ’75 (tragically, on the 19th of March, 1976, he died of a drug overdose). Another bloke with considerable talents, John Wetton (ex-King Crimson, ex-Family etc.) was quickly drafted in to record „Return To Fantasy” (1975) and although the record hit the UK Top 10, it barely scratched out a Top 100 US placing. Hensley delivered a second solo set that year, „Eager To Please”, appropriately titled, it failed to get off the starting blocks, a thing that could be said of Heep’s next album „High And Mighty” (1976), which only checked in at No. 55 in the British charts.
Disillusioned by their lack of success and the sacking of Byron (he had formed Rough Diamond), Wetton too decided to jump ship. Their places were filled by vocalist, John Lawton and bassist more famous to Bowie fans, Trevor Bolder; the ‘Heep that the band had become more soldiered on while punk rock in ’77 became yet another stumbling block. Subsezuent albums (with various comings and goings) „Firefly” (1977), „Innocent Victim” (1977), „Fallen Angel” (1978) and „Conquest” (1980) all failed both commercially and critically.
After a break from music in the early 80’s, Uriah Heep returned with a new line-up, Box inlisting the services of Lee Kerslake, Pete Goalby (vocals), John Sinclair (keyboards) and Bob Daisley (bass) to complete a comeback album of sorts, „Abominog”, a record that returned them to the charts on both sides of the Atlantic in 1982. Another „Head First” (1983), showed the rock world they had not given up yet, in fact, Uriah Heep are still going strong a decade and a half later, although their output has led to derision from all circles except that of loyal fanbase in Kerrang!.
They even became the first ever heavy-rock act to play in the U.S.S.R. A few years later, the band plucked up some degree of courage in covering a heavy rock version of Argent’s „Hold Your Head Up”, which became a track on the 1989 set, „The Raging SIlence”. Uriah Heep will be best remembered for their „very ‘eavy, very ‘ard” 70’s sound and style, much mimicked by a plethora of 80’s rock acts too numerous and risky to mention (apart from Spinal Tap, maybe).
Produced by Trevor Bolder and released early in 1991, "Different World" got a mixed reception from the press (put down in Kerrang!, hailed in Metal Hammer) and sold poorly. "Yet another technically sound but artistically bland recording from Uriah Heep failed to chart and marked the end of the band's contract with Legacy Records. Touring incessantly, the band issued some compilations of which Rarities from the Bronze Age and The Lansdowne Tapes (featuring previously unreleased material from the early 1970s) are considered most noteworthy. Still the first half of the 1990s is regarded even by the Heep fans as "the wilderness years."
"The Sea of Light album" (1995) produced by the band along with Kalle Trapp was well received and in retrospect is seen as the band's return to form, the key to success being (according to critic Donald A. Guarisco) the way it "forsook the ill-judged pop metal stylings of albums like "Equator" for a return to the gothic-tinged old-school metal style that highlighted classic Uriah Heep albums like "Look at Yourself". Produced by Pip Williams, Sonic Origami, originally issued in Japan in 1998, then, a year later, in the U.S., had "a grand, epic tone throughout" that, according to rock critic Steve Huey, "doesn't always match Uriah Heep's journeyman-sounding prog-tinged hard rock," still being "a solid entry in its chosen genre.
The release was followed by a successful European tour, which continued through 1999. The band released "The Legend Continues" DVD and then toured the UK. A reunion gig with Ken Hensley & John Lawton took place in London on 7 December 2001 in the course of the Magicians Birthday Party, which since then became a tradition, even though Hensley never actually joined again. For most of the years that followed Uriah Heep have returned to Britain for a tour or just this annual showcase concert, which in 2003 was held at the now demolished London Astoria. All the while Mick Box acted as a manager for the band until, on 5 April 2005, they retained Simon Porter as their manager.
In early 2007, drummer Lee Kerslake had to leave the group due to ill health. In March of that year the band recruited Russell Gilbrook as their new drummer and immediately started recording a new studio album entitled "Wake the Sleeper", where they used double drums in the songs "Wake the Sleeper" and "War Child". Originally slated for a summer 2007 release, Universal Music finally released "Wake the Sleeper" on 2 June 2008.
In October 2009 Uriah Heep released their 40th Anniversary "Celebration" album, containing new studio recordings of twelve of their best known tracks, plus two brand new songs. "This collection underlines again that Uriah Heep are deserving great respect for their past achievements but far more importantly it makes it crystal clear that this is a band with a bright future as well as a glorious history," wrote Chris Kee in his 9/10 review in Powerplay magazine’s February 2010 issue.
A United States tour for June/July 2010 was delayed due to immigration problems; the first two dates had to be rescheduled. This resulted in an appearance at B.B. King's in New York City as being the first date of the tour. Then Uriah Heep performed live on the Progressive Rock stage at the inaugural High Voltage Festival in London's Victoria Park on 25 July 2010. They played their 1972 album "Demons and Wizards" in its entirety, being joined by ex-Whitesnake man Micky Moody on slide guitar. Uriah Heep released their 23rd studio album "Into the Wild" on 15 April 2011 in Europe (3 May in North America) via Frontiers Records.
Bassist Trevor Bolder died on 21 May 2013 after suffering from pancreatic cancer. He was 62 years old.
Uriah Heep entered the studio in January 2014 to begin recording their 24th studio album "Outsider", which was released in June 2014. The album features new bass player Davey Rimmer who had been a substitute for Trevor Bolder previously.
In March 2015 they went on the "Down Unda Tour" visiting Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane and Auckland. On 25 September, they announced the release of their 25th studio album Totally Driven, a collection of re-recordings of classic Heep songs made in 2001, which was released on 12 November. On 15 October that year, the group played alongside Ken Hensley and Lee Kerslake at a special two-hour concert at Crocus City Hall in Moscow.
1. The Great Rock Discography - Martin C.Strong, 1st Edition, Publisher: Crown Publishers, ISBN-10: 0812931114, p. 874
2. This biography is from Wikipedia, the free collaborative encyclopedia. Used under licence and subject to disclaimers.
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