Uriah Heep's by-the-books progressive heavy metal made the British band one of the most popular hard rock groups of the early '70s. Formed by vocalist David Byron and guitarist Mick Box in the late '60s.
Latest Activity: Mar 13, 2015
Uriah Heep are an English hard rock band that was one of the most popular groups of the early 70s.
Uriah Heep were the first Western band to play in Soviet Russia, under Gorbachev's policy of glasnost. They have sold over 30 million albums worldwide. Their debut album, Very 'eavy... Very 'umble (which was self-titled in the United States), introduced a heavy organ and guitar-driven sound, with David Byron's theatrical, dynamic vocals soaring above thunderous sonic backgrounds, although acoustic and jazz elements also featured in the mix. The album's title references the signature phrase of the Dickens character Uriah Heep ("very 'umble") from the novel David Copperfield from which the band took its name . Their second album, Salisbury, was more squarely in the progressive rock genre, with its 16-minute title track featuring a 24-piece orchestra. Their third album, Look at Yourself, released at the end of 1971, included the song "July Morning". Subsequent releases would find the group's ever-shifting lineup (between 1969 and 1980, the band changed drummers five times, bassists four times, and lead singers five times) frequently exploring fantasy-oriented lyrical themes, often in lengthy, multi-part compositions, largely penned by Ken Hensley, who would eventually come to dominate the band during his tenure. On December 8, 1975, New Zealand-born former bassist, Gary Thain, was found dead in his Norwood Green home, aged 27, having overdosed on heroin. Following the 1976 replacement of vocalist David Byron (with John Lawton — formerly of bands Lucifer's Friend and The Les Humphries Singers), Uriah Heep turned away from fantasy-oriented lyrics and multi-part compositions back toward a more straightforward hard rock sound typical of the era. In 1977 they scored a top 40 chart hit in Australia with "Free Me" which went all the way to #1 in New Zealand. The replacement of Lawton with vocalist John Sloman for the 1980 album Conquest was not well received by most fans, and Ken Hensley's acrimonious departure in September of that year left the group in a state of collapse. It fell to guitarist Mick Box to pick up the pieces and soldier on with a new singer Pete Goalby of Trapeze fame. Two early 1980s releases, Abominog and Head First, updated the band's sound and generated a brief, newfound interest in Uriah Heep among younger heavy metal fans. Mick Box and Bernie Shaw performing live in London
David Byron died of an epileptic seizure and liver disease on February 28, 1985, at the age of 38. Uriah Heep continued to tour and release both (occasional) studio and (frequent) live albums. The lineup was unchanged from 1986 until early 2007, being veteran Mick Box at the helm, Trevor Bolder on bass, Lee Kerslake on drums, vocalist Bernie Shaw and Phil Lanzon on keyboards. Their principal tour circuit is in Germany, the Netherlands, the Scandinavian Peninsula, Japan, and Russia, although they returned to Britain for a tour or a showcase concert most years. For several years this was The Magician's Birthday Party (named for one of their most popular albums), in London. Mick Box also acted as manager until, on April 5, 2005, the band retained Simon Porter as their manager. In early 2007 drummer Lee Kerslake had to leave the group due to ill health. In March 2007, the band recruited Russell Gilbrook as their new drummer, and immediately started recording a new studio album entitled Wake the Sleeper. Originally slated for a Summer 2007 release, Universal Music finally released Wake the Sleeper on June 2, 2008.
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