Uriah Heep

Uriah Heep are an English rock band, formed in December 1969 when record producer Gerry Bron invited keyboardist Ken Hensley (previously a member of The Gods and Toe Fat) to join Spice, a band signed to his own Bronze Records label.


They were sometimes jokingly referred to as "The Beach Boys of heavy metal" for their melodic songs, and trademark multi-part harmony backing vocals, although their music draws on diverse influences including progressive rock, hard rock, heavy metal, jazz, and even country on occasion.


In spite of their huge popularity in Britain and continental Europe, Uriah Heep were never able to break into the American market in a big way, with the exception of three hit songs, "Easy Livin' " from the 1972 album Demons and Wizards, "Sweet Lorraine" from the 1972 album The Magician's Birthday (a top ten album in Australia), and "Stealin' " from the 1973 release Sweet Freedom. The band released several commercially successful albums in the 1970s, including the seminal Uriah Heep Live (1973), but their audience declined by the 1980s, to the point where they became essentially a cult band in the US and UK. Uriah Heep maintain a significant following in Germany, the Netherlands, the Scandinavian Peninsula, the Balkan Peninsula, Japan and Russia, where they still perform at stadium-sized venues.


Graphic artist Roger Dean painted several of their album covers, most notably Demons and Wizards (1972), The Magician's Birthday (1972), and Sea of Light (1994). They have sold over 30 million albums worldwide .


History


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 single "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 twice) frequently exploring fantasy-oriented lyrical themes, often in lengthy, multi-part compositions, largely penned by 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 fit 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. In their Email newsletter of November 22, 2007, Mick Box announced that songs from the upcoming album would be performed on their European tour beginning November 24th.


In 16 October 2009 Uriah Heep have a live concert in Yerevan, Armenia.


Lineups


1969???1970
David Byron ??? vocals
Mick Box ??? guitar
Ken Hensley ??? keyboards
Paul Newton ??? bass guitar
Alex Napier ??? drums
1970
David Byron ??? vocals
Mick Box ??? guitar
Ken Hensley ??? keyboards
Paul Newton ??? bass guitar
Nigel Olsson ??? drums
1970
David Byron ??? vocals
Mick Box ??? guitar
Ken Hensley ??? keyboards
Paul Newton ??? bass guitar
Keith Baker ??? drums
1970???1971
David Byron ??? vocals
Mick Box ??? guitar
Ken Hensley ??? keyboards
Paul Newton ??? bass guitar
Iain Clarke ??? drums
1971???1972
David Byron ??? vocals
Mick Box ??? guitar
Ken Hensley ??? keyboards
Mark Clarke ??? bass guitar
Lee Kerslake ??? drums
1972???1975
David Byron ??? vocals
Mick Box ??? guitar
Ken Hensley ??? keyboards
Gary Thain ??? bass guitar
Lee Kerslake ??? drums
1975???1976
David Byron ??? vocals
Mick Box ??? guitar
Ken Hensley ??? keyboards
John Wetton ??? bass guitar
Lee Kerslake ??? drums
1976???1979
John Lawton ??? vocals
Mick Box ??? guitar
Ken Hensley ??? keyboards
Trevor Bolder ??? bass guitar
Lee Kerslake ??? drums
1979???1980
John Sloman ??? vocals
Mick Box ??? guitar
Ken Hensley ??? keyboards
Trevor Bolder ??? bass guitar
Chris Slade ??? drums
1980???1981
John Sloman ??? vocals
Mick Box ??? guitar
Greg Dechert ??? keyboards
Trevor Bolder ??? bass guitar
Chris Slade ??? drums
1981???1983
Peter Goalby ??? vocals
Mick Box ??? guitar
John Sinclair ??? keyboards
Bob Daisley ??? bass guitar
Lee Kerslake ??? drums
1983???1985
Peter Goalby ??? vocals
Mick Box ??? guitar
John Sinclair ??? keyboards
Trevor Bolder ??? bass guitar
Lee Kerslake ??? drums
1986
Steff Fontaine ??? vocals
Mick Box ??? guitar
Phil Lanzon ??? keyboards
Trevor Bolder ??? bass guitar
Lee Kerslake ??? drums
1986???2007
Bernie Shaw ??? vocals
Mick Box ??? guitar
Phil Lanzon ??? keyboards
Trevor Bolder ??? bass guitar
Lee Kerslake ??? drums
2007???Present
Bernie Shaw ??? vocals
Mick Box ??? guitar
Phil Lanzon ??? keyboards
Trevor Bolder ??? bass guitar
Russell Gilbrook ??? drums

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Original Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uriah Heep