Uriah Heep is an English rock band formed in London in 1969. Their current lineup includes lead and rhythm guitarist Mick Box, keyboardist Phil Lanzon, lead vocalist Bernie Shaw, drummer Russell Gilbrook, and bassist Davey Rimmer. They have experienced numerous lineup changes throughout their 51-year career, leaving Box as the only remaining original member. Notable former members of the band include 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 have released twenty-four studio albums (of original material), twenty live albums and forty-one compilation albums (including two greatest hits albums composed of re-recorded material: Celebration – Forty Years of Rock and Totally Driven). Twelve of the band's studio albums have made it to the UK Albums Chart (Return to Fantasy reached No. 7 in 1975) while of the fifteen Billboard 200 Uriah Heep albums Demons and Wizards was the most successful (#23, 1972). 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 (who knew the band) 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 (born 1947 in Glasgow, Strathclyde, Scotland) 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 (the Hit Record Productions Ltd.'s boss) 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 (for, according to biographer Kirk Blows, "Dickens' name being everywhere around Christmas '69 due to it being the hundredth anniversary of his death"). 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.
In a July 2020 interview with Sea of Tranquility, guitarist Mick Box and bassist Davey Rimmer confirmed that Uriah Heep are scheduled to begin recording their 26th studio album in early 2021. When asked about a possible release date, Box said, "I think release is all down to the record company, I've gotta be honest. We never get a shout on that. They always seem to have some reason to release it at this time, that time, whatever time."
Uriah Heep's music has predominantly been described by critics and journalists as progressive rock and heavy metal, with influences from acid rock, blues, and folk. Uriah Heep's distinctive features have always included a massive keyboard sound, strong vocal harmonies and (in the early years) David Byron's quasi-operatic vocals. Read more on Last.fm
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