[Around Prog #12] Uriah Heep pt. II

The Post-Byron

Uriah Heep 1976

With the release of the two elements Wetton and Byron, it was necessary to find substitutes, in the role of bassist Trevor Bolder is inserted, while at the voice John lawton. With this new lineup in 1977 they published “Firefly,” different from the previous ones and a sign of change. The band performs together with Kiss on an American tour, Paul Stanley remembers the experience like this. In the same year he is the following “Innocent victim,” made of shorter and less elaborate songs, and the band seemed to want to woo the American AOR market. Still with the same lineup in 1978 they recorded “Fallen Angel,” too light for the old fans, and too eccentric for the AOR ones, he was still well received. The band seemed to have found some stability, but it was apparent, as colleagues complained about Hensley‘s earnings, superior to those of others. This break had its climax at the end of a concert in Belgium in 1979, when Lawton left the band replaced by John Sloman, singer, guitarist and keyboardist. With this line-up in 1980 they published “Conquest” which marked another split, with Hensley opposing the inclusion of Sloman. He considered him a good artist, but not suited to the texts he wrote, so after a heated discussion with the director I left the band in 1980. To replace such a fundamental member, Gregg Dechert was selected, the band went on tour UK, at the end Sloman left. These constant dropouts and Hensley‘s in particular leaves the band in a very bad state, and it got to the point that everyone took his own way, except Box, which remained with name and contract, but without band.

The 80s and the Peter Goalby-Era

Uriah Heep 1982

The band with the new lineup and Trapeze‘s Peter Goalby on vocals, publishes abominog, with the production of Ashley Howe. Released in 1982, it was preceded by “Abominog junior EP,” obtaining a good response from the critics. The album also entered the charts, not top-level impositions, but it was still a good result. This good feedback allows you to play different live dates, including in the “Castle Donington Monsters of Rock” event, achieving great success. The next album, “Head First” released in May 1983, a product from Howe again. Goalby comments as follows: “Howe became the sixth member of the band.” The album followed the sound line of its predecessor, a mix of power, Metal and AOR, shortly before the release Daisley left to return with Ozzy Osbourne, replaced by Trevor Bolder, a former member previously. With these two albums, the band regained interest, especially from the young Heavy Metal fans, given their change in sound. Following the album, a tour in the States in support of bands such as Rush, Judas Priest, and Def Leppard highlights them. Just Joe Elliot, singer of Def Leppard remembers the tour like this: “They were the best band that we’ve ever toured with either as a headline or support, because there was no ego, no pretentious kind of stuff. They were good in as much that we learnt a lot from them.” The manager Gerry Bron, was no longer working with the band, whose interests were handled by Neil Warnock in Europe and by the Blue Oyster Cult team in the USA Bronze Records found itself buried in debt and costs a fortune to Uriah Heep, who in that period they organize a series of tours in Asia and South America. Being without a label, they joined the CBS team, under the leadership of manager Harry Maloney. On February 28, 1985, David Byron died of a heart attack at the age of 38 on February 28th. In the same year they published “Ecuator,” which however marked a drop in sales, due above all to a bad job by the label.

Uriah Heep’s lineup on “Equator”

Goalby, exhausted and with serious voice problems, leaves the band and John Sinclair decides to join Ozzy Osbourne. Thus it was that in July 1986 the former metal band singer Joshua Steff Fontaine joined Heep. Due to the missed presence at a live in San Francisco, he is fired for lack of professionalism and the role of singer is therefore entrusted to Bernie Shaw.

The new lineup and the early 90s

Uriah Heep in 1986

The lineup thus built therefore remains unchanged from 1986 to 2007, with Box directing, Trevor Bolder on bass, Lee Kerslake on drums, Bernie Shaw on vocals and Phil Lanzon on keyboards. In 1987 they were the first western band to play in the USSR, with a concert in Moscow in front of 180,000 people, recording “Live in Moscow.” At that time the live activity of the band was at its peak with tours all incontinent, often sold out. In 1989 comes out rising silence, produced by Richard Dodd and followed by a series of concerts throughout Eastern Europe including the USSR. It is a good time for the band, which also records a mini film for British TV which was broadcast on the Bedrock TV series and later on Che Music. “Different world” therefore comes out in 1991, again bankrupt, sold badly and technically a bit bland. This failure marks the end of the relationship with Legacy Records, while the incessant touring instead received due success. The first half of the 90s has always been considered as “the years of the desert.”

The 90s and the new millennium

Uriah Heep in the ’90s

In 1995, after a successful tour that touched various countries of the world, they published “Sea of ​​light,” well received by the public and critics, marking the abandonment of the AOR style of the previous ones. Also the next “Sonic origami,” shows a return to a Hard Rock “with epic tones, followed by a European tour that lasted until the end of 1999. A DVD is released” The legend continues” and in December 2001 a reunion is organized with Ken Hensley and John Lawton, who became a tradition, even though Hensley did not participate anymore, in the same year, 7 years after the previous one, an American tour that sees them as protagonists also in 2002 with Asia, Mostly Autumn, Karnataka, Focus and Nektar, playing an electric and an acoustic session the first and the second evening In the following years little or nothing happens, if not for the annual appointment in December in England and the change manager with Simon Porter who takes the place of Box.

Wake the sleeper and Into the wild

Uriah Heep 2008

Due to health problems drummer Lee Kerslake leaves the group, replaced by Russel Gilbrook, and with the new setup they start recording the new album. The drum uses the double drum in the songs “Wake the sleeper” and “War child.” The release initially scheduled for 2007 only comes in June 2008. 2009 the band celebrates the 40th year of activity with an album of recordings of 12 historical tracks plus 2 unreleased tracks. In 2010 due to problems with immigration some dates in the USA are delayed, playing the 1972 album “Demons and wizard” with Whitesnake’s Micky Moody on slide guitar. In April 2011 they released their thirteenth studio album “Into the wild” via Frontiers Music srl. Trevor Mulder, due to suffering pancreatic cancer, died on May 21, 2013, at the age of 62, he was replaced by John Jowitt (Ark, IQ, Arena).

The last years from 2013 to today

Uriah Heep today

In May 2013 the band begins a tour of the main European countries in which Lawton participates in the formation of the 70s. The twenty-fourth studio album “Outsider” is released in June 2014 and sees the presence of new bassist Davey Rimmer. A tour that departed from Sydney and touched several Australian cities saw them protagonists in 2015. Also in the same year an album was released containing re-recordings of classic songs entitled “Totally driven,” and they played a special concert with Ken Hensley and Lee Kerslake. The live activity always sees them as protagonists in Europe and in the world, and at the same time the one in the studio continues with constancy. A demonstration in November 2017 begins the recording of the twenty-fifth album entitled “Living the dream” which is released in 2018, followed by a tour that commits them until 2019.

A band that made music history, riding five decades and playing various genres and musical styles over the years. In addition to being a pivotal band of Progressive in its Heavy version, their sound sees them among the pioneers of Metal, which had its genesis with bands like this. Touching the highest expressive levels in the early 70s, with masterpieces that made history, their entire discography is still worthy of note. As described in this long editorial, even their live activity is top-level, in addition to never having stopped throughout their career, it has always been performed with stratospheric level performance. A fundamental band, which is a great listening for those who want to get closer to the Prog genre, a listening instead always welcome for those who are already a lover of it. The most beautiful pages of Prog and Heavy have certainly also been written by Uriah Heep.

The first parte of the editorial is available here: [Around Prog #11] Uriah Heep pt. I

Discography (1986-Today)

(1977) Firefly [Bronze Records]
(1977) Innocent Victim [Bronze Records]
(1978) Fallen Angel [Bronze Records]
(1980) Conquest [Bronze Records]
(1982) Abominog [Bronze Records]
(1983) Head First [Bronze Records]
(1985) Equator [Portrait Records]
(1989) Raging Silence [Legacy Records]
(1991) Different World [Legacy Records]
(1995) Sea of Light [Steamhammer]
(1998) Sonic Origami [Eagle Records]
(2008) Wake the Sleeper [Sanctuary Records]
(2009) Celebration – Forty Years of Rock [Ear Music]
(2011) Into the Wild [Frontiers Records]
(2014) Outsider [Frontiers Records]
(2018) Living the Dream [Frontiers Records]

Pasta Members

Ken Hensley / Keyboards, Synthesisers, Guitars, Vocals (1969–1980)
Lee Kerslake / Drums, Percussion, Vocals (1971–1979, 1981–2007)
Trevor Bolder / Base, Vocals (1976–1981, 1983–2013) (Until his death)
John Lawton / Vocals (1976–1979) (Live substitute in 1995 and 2013)
John Sloman / Vocals, Keyboards, Piano, Percussion (1979–1981)
Gregg Dechert / Keyboards (1980–1981)
John Sinclair / Keyboards, Backing Vocals (1981–1986)
Peter Goalby / Vocals (1981–1985)
Bob Daisley / Bass (1981–1983)

Current Lineup

Mick Box / Guitars, Backing Vocals (1969–present)
Phil Lanzon / Keyboards, Co-lead Vocals (1986–present)
Bernie Shaw / Lead Vocals (1986–present)
Russell Gilbrook / Drums, Percussion (2007–present)
Davey Rimmer / Bass, Backing Vocals (2013–present)

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Author: Jacopo Vigezzi

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