About Uriah Heep
Uriah Heep are an English rock band formed in London in 1969. Its current lineup since 2013 has been lead and rhythm guitarist Mick Box, keyboardist Phil Lanzon, lead vocalist Bernie Shaw, drummer Russell Gilbrook, and bassist Davey Rimmer. Of this lineup, Box is the only remaining original member. Throughout many lineup changes, the band has included many notable musicians, such as vocalists David Byron, John Lawton, John Sloman, Peter Goalby and Steff Fontaine, bassists Gary Thain, Trevor Bolder, John Wetton, Bob Daisley and John Jowitt, drummers Nigel Olsson, Lee Kerslake and Chris Slade, and keyboardists Ken Hensley and John Sinclair.
Over the course of their 50-year career, Uriah Heep have released twenty-five studio albums, two albums composed of re-recorded material, eighteen live albums and thirty-nine compilation albums. Twelve of the band's studio albums have made it to the UK Albums Chart while of the fifteen Billboard 200 Uriah Heep albums Demons and Wizards was the most successful . In the late 1970s the band had massive success in Germany, where the "Lady in Black" single was a big hit.
The band maintains a significant following and performs at arena-sized venues in the Balkans, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Russia and Scandinavia. They have sold over 45 million albums worldwide with over 4 million sales in the U.S, where its best-known songs include "Easy Livin'", "The Wizard", "Sweet Lorraine", and "Stealin'".
The band's origins go back to 1967 when 19-year-old guitarist Mick Box formed a band in Brentwood called Hogwash, which began playing in local clubs and pubs. When the band's singer left, drummer Roger Penlington suggested his cousin David Garrick as a replacement. Box and Garrick instantly formed a songwriting partnership and, having higher musical aspirations than their colleagues, decided to give up their day jobs and go professional. They set up a new band called Spice; it was then that David Garrick changed his surname to Byron. Drummer Alex Napier joined, having answered a music paper ad; bassist Paul Newton of the Gods completed the line-up.
From the very beginning, Spice avoided playing covers and, according to Box, always strove "...to do something original." Managed initially by Newton's father, the band climbed their way up to The Marquee level, then got signed by Gerry Bron who saw the band at the Blues Loft club in High Wycombe. "I thought they were a band I could develop and I took them on that basis," remembered Bron later. He became the band's manager and signed them to Vertigo Records, the newly formed Philips label. The four-piece found themselves booked into the Lansdowne Studios in London, still under the name of Spice. Then the name was changed to that of the well-known character from 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's high vibrato vocals anyway so that's how we decided to shape it," Box recalled. Gerry Bron brought in session player Colin Wood, followed by Ken Hensley, a former colleague of Newton in the Gods, who was then playing guitar in Toe Fat. "I saw a lot of potential in the group to do something very different," remembered Hensley.
Their 1970 debut album, …Very 'Eavy …Very 'Umble , introduced Hensley's 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 . Hensley had little to contribute to the debut: Box and Byron wrote most of the material, including "Gypsy", in many ways "...a marriage of contrasts" that, in time, became their trademark. In a 1989 interview, Mick Box recalled, "The funny thing was we wrote it at the Hanwell Community Centre, and Deep Purple were rehearsing in the room next door to us. You can imagine the kind of racket we were both making between us." During the winter of 1970, three quarters into the recording of the album, drummer Alex Napier was replaced by Nigel Olsson, recommended to Byron by Elton John. The debut was not popular with rock critics but in retrospect the attitude towards it changed. "Those unfamiliar with Uriah Heep may want to try out Demons and Wizards or a compilation first, but anyone with a serious interest in Uriah Heep or the roots of heavy metal will find plenty to like on ...Very 'eavy ...Very 'umble," advised critic Donald A. Guarisco. In the course of the album's making the writing relationship between Box, Byron and Hensley was beginning to develop. "It was very quick, because we were all into the same things. It was like it was meant to be, there was that kind of chemistry," Mick Box recalled.
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