About Uriah Heep
Uriah Heep are an English rock band formed in London in 1969. Their current lineup consists of lead and rhythm guitarist Mick Box, keyboardist Phil Lanzon, lead vocalist Bernie Shaw, drummer Russell Gilbrook, and bassist Dave Rimmer. They have experienced numerous lineup changes throughout their 53-year career, leaving Box as the only remaining original member. Notable former members of the band are vocalists David Byron, John Lawton, John Sloman, Peter Goalby, and Steff Fontaine, bassists Gary Thain, Trevor Bolder, John Wetton, Bob Daisley, Paul Newton, and John Jowitt, drummers Nigel Olsson, Lee Kerslake and Chris Slade, and keyboardists Ken Hensley and John Sinclair.
Uriah Heep were part of the early 1970s rock scene, and have been referred to as pioneers of the hard rock, heavy metal and progressive rock genres. The band has sold over 40 million albums worldwide with over four million sales in the U.S, where its best-known songs include "Gypsy", "Easy Livin'", "The Wizard", "Sweet Lorraine", and "Stealin'". They also maintain a significant following and perform at arena-sized venues in the Balkans, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Russia, Finland and Scandinavia.
Uriah Heep have released twenty-four studio albums of original material, twenty live albums and forty-one 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'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 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. 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.
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 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 the band's 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 . 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 . 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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