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Official Programme

Original Liner Notes
David Byron Bio | Ken Hensley Bio | Mick Box Bio | Lee Kerslake Bio | Gary Thain Bio

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In a place not far from here there was once a group called The Stalkers who had a guitarist named Mick Box. He was soon joined in that band by a singer, one David Byron. Those two went on to form a group called Spice.

Spice were not as hot as their name suggested and David and Mick starved. But the two had a guardian angel looking o'er them who guided Mr Gerry Bron into their path and he gave them succour.

Mr Bron also suggested they get an organist, which they did. He was called Ken Hensley and was lured away from Cliff Bennett's Toe Fat with promises of stardom and riches beyond compare. Ken had, in fact, heard such promises before from a succession of men both well-meaning and dishonest and had played guitar and organ in a bewildering diversity of groups from the soully Jimmie Brown Sound to the Gods with Greg Lake and Mick Taylor, who are now both famous and wealthy.

The three hopefuls took the name of Uriah Heep for which Charles Dickens can take no credit for it was the aforementioned Mr Bron's idea.

A variety of drummers and bassists were used until things became silly. I mean here they were. Three albums (Very 'Eavy Very 'Umble, Salisbury and Look At Yourself) and a growing army of club fans but it was, nevertheless, painfully clear that something was missing.

The magic was not there.

Meanwhile other fairy godmothers had been at work... (and this is where the story really starts).

A skin beater named Kerslake, Lee, had crossed paths with Ken many times. After starting out with Dave Anthony's Moods, Lee played with Ken in the Gods (also there was Paul Newton, an early Heep bassist) and in Toe Fat. After a spell with the National Head Band Lee received the clarion call to join the three embryonic stars.

The old saying "A Kerslake will never let you down" once again proved true.

Finally and decisively, Keef Hartley (in Britain) split his band and went to work with John Mayall. At precisely the same time Paul Newton (in the states) quit Heep in the middle of a tour and Keef's unemployed bass player - Gary Thain, suddenly found himself jetting speedily 'cross the wide Atlantic and was playing with U.H. before he could say O.K.

Demons and Wizards and The Magician's Birthday have proved the pudding, as have the packed concert halls throughout Britain, the Continent, the U.S. of A. and Japan.

If like me you've been at the concerts and bought the albums, then this one's a natural.

So take your seats, my friends, and settle down to four sides of live Heep.


There's absolutely no question about it. The guy who's improved beyond all recognition in Uriah Heep is singer David Byron.

His voice hasn't dramatically broadened in range or emotion (although it is undeniably surer and stronger). No, David's improvement is in the key department of presentation. He's become an Entertainer.

David is the focus. The peacockish dresser who struts his stuff for the girls but who guzzles a bottle or two of Mateus Rose and shakes the mikestand hard, coming on heavy to let the lads know he's no effete poseur.

Others have long since taken the role of the rock singer out of the straight stand-up front man who steps up to the mike to deliver a swift verse before slipping back into the shadows.

It's been David's willingness to watch, analyse and adapt that's caused the immense improvement. I once spent an hour or two of a long, potentially tedious transatlantic flight talking with David on just this subject. It soon became apparent that while he'd observed how other singers handled an audience, caught its attention, focused it and manipulated it he had taken great pains to transpose the mannerisms and tricks into something very much his own.

The refined technique David has now reached has been a conscious, deliverate process. But you shouldn't get the idea that Byron's a coldly caldulating man. He seems genuinely awed by his power over a hall full of kids - a power not unlike a dictator's. During the two hours the band is on stage it's absolute.

Like Mick, and for that matter the whole band, David is quick to make friends but his pre-gig nerves often betray his usual warmth. He'll talk but you can tell he's getting keyed up. There's an edge to his voice as he chatters at twice his normal speed - which is considerable in the most relaxed moments. he's hyper-tense, a taut bow-string which the lightest touch will spring. With planning and care the release will come on stage; occasionally an oaf of a photographer will click once too often and receive - at best - a hard, stony stare. At worst he'll get a stream of invective powerful enough to steam over the thickest lenses.

David the dictator will get even better.


In many years from now I've a feeling that Ken will still be deeply involved in music, be it in writing, in arranging, in producing and maybe even in performing as a solo artist.

Much of the writing in Uriah heep has been his - although the load is now more evenly spread - and ten of his songs have formed the basis for a solo album, Proud Words On A Dusty Shelf. Of those deeply personal tracks Rain has been used by the band and David Byron's reading of it is sensitive and sympathetic.

The Biz flows through his veins. Cut him and he'll bleed tapes, acetates, contracts and everything that makes the music go round.

He's been on the road longer than he cares to remember but still has an abundance of energy and vitality just waiting to be burned up. He's a vigorous worker who'll often push himself too far, but nothing will quench his seemingly insatiable thirst for success.

As a musician he is highly self-critical. As a writer for Heep, he is imaginative with a penchant for narrative. For his solo album his writing is honest, self-exploratory and endlessly questing.

Starting on guitar and moving to organ later, Ken has developed a distiinctive style - studious but terrifically powerful. I've often thought that his favourite part of the instrument is the swell pedal.

Seated at the organ, facing across the stage towards the left hand wings he prepares for his grand organ feature in the Heep's programme. His head bows over the keyboard as great clouds of dry-ice conjured steam envelop him. He becomes the Phantom Of The Opera playing anything from chopsticks to Bach. The only real was to climax the solo would be for the stage to open up and slowly swallow the unaware organist.

I've known Ken from his very earliest days in a group which delighted in the name Ken and his Cousins. He's always taken an aggressive role in all the bands he's been with and his definite views on music and business have frequently made him appear difficult to work with.

I believe that the success and co-operative atmosphere in Uriah Heep have proved that Ken can both listen to and take advice and become a truly productive member of a group. Long may he produce.


Mick Box is a short, squat guy. Almost as wide as he is tall. A frame that's reflected in the broad, chunky chords he blasts out.

His solos are simple but theatrically climatic and effective and his use of the deep sonorous riff gives plenty of opportunity to indulge that well-known lumbering gait. He strides towards the front of the stage where he'll stand rocking unsteadily on the verge of the orchestra pit ripping of a fast, searing lick before stomping back to his amp.

Then in a sleeckier, pacier number he'll hurtle across the stage like an enraged bull charging a red drag.

Uncomplicated and warm. That's his approach to the guitar and it's his approach to people.

When you first meet Mick there's no pretence, no wall of silence that betrays the uncertain artist. He's always the first with the friendly handshake and, well, maybe on your second meeting it's a bear hug. It's a natural friendliness, as natural as his ever present Chesire Cat grin and it spills over into his matey stage character.

The scene is the Chicago Auditorium. The stage is in darkness. A disembodied voice booms out: "Evenin' Chicago...'ow are yer!". The cheery Mick Box has arrived.

A churning rocker is being pounded out. Suddenly at the front of the stage there's a commotion. Then another flurry of grabbing, grasping excitement. Finally you'll spot a beer can arching through the air... they're being lobbed at regular intervals by Mick. Like a man trying to feed a mob with loaves and fishes, Box is saying thank you to the faithful. Manna from Mick.

But don't get the idea that he's treating the whole thing as an elaborate game. Despite his lurching and looning on the boards, Mick is putting everything into his playing. One crystal clear memory of Mick which, I think, sums up came immediately after that first show in Chicago on their '72 tour.

The band was just starting the second leg of their schedule and they were super-tense and edgy. They went down a storm (of course) but Mick had put so much nervous engery into the show that he couldn't speak. He was gasping, choking and coughing as he spent a painful 15 minutes retching into a waste-bin.

He slept for 12 hours after that. And he deserved it.


Lee Kerslake is a body drummer. He doesn't play his kit from the wrist or from his strong fore-arms. No, the powerhouse of Uriah Heep puts the full weight of his shoulders - of his whole torso - behind each crushing baet. It means that his playing is simplistic and terse but the all-important drive is monumentally stunning.

Lee's body drumming can best be seen during a number like Circle Of Hands. It's on this album, and it's easy to picture him rocking from side to side. He rolls to the right on the downbeat throwing his whole frame's weight behind the bass drum beat and cymbal crash then he sways back over to the left on the up-beat heaving his weight behind the snare-drums off-beat. It needs that sort of muscular, physical power to work the engine room of a band like Heep.

The rest of the band is only too aware that it was the immediate musical empathy between Lee and bassist Gary Thain that turned Uriah into a compact, weighty unit that's able to sell albums and fill concert halls.

I've always found Lee to be something of a Jekyll and Hyde character. Off-stage on American tours, he's been known to go missing for several days always turning up in time for the next gig with the barest of explanations - often bizarre but somehow believable. The Lost Weekend just isn't in it. It's that his Hyde manifestations, his Jekyll is equally surprising. Lee Keslake - Family Man.

Backstage at a London gig: Lee staggers off after the encores, towels himself down and is immediately engrossed in playing with his young son, jutting out his chin for the toddler that he's cradling in his arms to punch. The little 'un is developing a very fair left hook.

But sit Lee behind a kit - either in a studio or in a concert hall - and he's transformed. He concentrates with an intensity unusual for a drummer who plays fairly simple fills. It's a concentration of power rather than technically flash. Well, you need to be a mite beefy to propel a band as thunderously loud as Heep. And Lee's as beefy as Brovil.


If they ever decided to remake The Thin Man, the casting director need look no further than Uriah Heep's bassist Gary Thain to fill the title role played originally by William Powell.

Gary's fatless frame looks as though it has just survived the ravages of a particullary virulent disease. His shallow complexion, drawn face are topped with a great mound of hair like a Grenadier Guard who's just washed his bearskin and can't do a thing with it.

His spindly legs totter on well heeled boots, pacing the area between Lee's drums and Ken's keyboards. He looks rather like a walking Eiffel Tower, but he's a tower of power.

I don't think the importance of Gary's addition to Heep was fully realised by many people outside the band when he first joined. It was clear that there was a new chemistry in the rhythm section. Lee was working with greater certainty and the band's pulse was steadier, less liable to a sudden flutter at the heart.

The change should've surprised no-one, of course, for Gary is one of the best rock bassists that currently playing in a British band. He has reached that accolade through a thorough and diverse training.

In his native New Zealand, Gary started out by backing visiting stars until he came to Britain via The Big Oz. Before Heep, his most notable gig was a three year stint with Keef Hartley's band. Check out the latter's live album recorded at the Marquee and you'll hear the Thain bass driving the brass section through a series of punchy arrangements.

Heep are more of an Entertainment than Gary's past bands and it's taken him a while to rid himself of the introvered and stationary persona he'd grown into.

In the States he's more able to communicate with the audience; the crowds there didn't put up a stern "go on and impress me" barrier.

Gary is probably the most serious of the Uriahs. In conversation he'll fix you with his eyes and talk slowly, considering each phrase and leaving long, long gaps to let each point hit home or to wait for the right word to come to him. Similary, he has been waiting for the right moment to emerge fully from his shell. On the group's recent tour, fans finally saw and heard Gary at his peak. The time was ripe.

Sleeve Notes: Geoff Brown (Melody Maker)

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