Uriah Heep can easily qualify as the best English rock band of all times in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. The band’s story began in the late 1960’s when two upcoming bands in London at the time namely; The Gods and Spice came together. The Gods band was composed of Lee Kerslake, Ken Hensley and Paul Newton at the time. Spice was composed of Mick Box, Alex Napier, David Byron and Paul Newton
Renowned band manager and English record producer Gerry Bron was responsible for merging the two bands together given the fact that he offered Spice studio recording time after seeing the band play live in the late 1969’s in The Blues Loft, High Wycombe. Bron was interested in seeing how the band would sound in a studio environment.
After getting the Spice band to the studio, Bron was impressed by their ability and signed them immediately. He however felt the band needed an added dimension i.e. keyboards. Bron’s friend Colin Wood was the first choice. The band was however in need of a permanent keyboard player. Paul Newton suggested Ken Hensley who he knew from the Gods band.
This marked the birth of Uriah Heep. Bron suggested the name change when the band started recording their first album. A number of line up changes occurred a few months after Uriah Heep was formed. For instance, Alex Napier left the band after recording a few tracks in the band’s debut album. He was replaced by drummer Nigel Olssen who also left after a short time to join Elton John’s Band.
Olssen was replaced by Keith Baker who remained in Uriah Heep until the band finished recording their second album. He left shortly after that. Keith Baker was replaced by Ian Clarke (an ex-Cressida drummer) who stayed with Uriah Heep until the band finished recording their third album; Look At Yourself.
Ian Clarke and Paul Newton left the band in November 1971 making the end of their high profile music careers. At this point Uriah Heep almost spiralled into disarray. The band’s third album was however doing well in the US indicating that all wasn’t lost. The band had to regain stability to transition without its key members.
With Lee Kerslake handling the drums, Uriah Heep needed a good bass player. Ex-colosseum bassist; Mark Clarke joined the band. He was however unsuitable which prompted his quick exit 3 months later. Gary Thain; a New Zealander joined Uriah Heep in February 1972 to replace Clarke. He had a weath of touring and recording experience from his former band; Keef Hartley.
The new line-up survived the next 27 months. The band recorded 5 albums and numerous release tracks. The studio albums included; ”Demons And Wizards”, ”The Magician’s Birthday’’, ”Sweet Freedom”, ”Wonderworld”, and a double album; ”Uriah Heep Live”. February 1975 marked the end of Gary Thain’s career as a Uriah Heep member. He was removed from the band because of his unreliability and drug problems. He died in December 1975 from a drug overdose.
John Wetton replaced Thain. By 1976, Uriah Heep was already showing serious signs of stress that were characteristic of many internationally successful bands before the end of a fruitful era. The band’s next album Fallen Angel didn’t do well marking the beginning of a downwards spiral. Many Uriah Heep fans felt the band was diverting from the original musical direction. When keyboardist Ken Hensley left Uriah Heep, Mick Box contemplated forming his own band despite being extremely resilient over the years. The band never really reclaimed its victory despite releasing many other albums and performing in many shows thereafter.