Uriah Heep – Top Of The Pops – May 5, 1970 – BBC Radio 1
Uriah Heep, in session for Top Of The Pops, recorded on May 5, 1970 just a month before the band’s debut album “Very ‘Umble” was released in the UK.
I was very saddened to hear of the passing of Uriah Heep co-founder and keyboard player Ken Hensley, who died in November of 2020. Cause of death was listed as a “short illness”, but one suspects it may have been COVID. Hard to tell. I had the privilege of interviewing him during one of their first U.S. tours and always thought the band was several cuts above the bands who were considered part of the initial Hard Rock/Heavy Metal genre at the time. He hadn’t been with the band since 1980 when he left over the direction change the band was undergoing and went solo, recording and performing all the way until his passing last year. A great musician and a good person and he will be missed.
Uriah Heep were initially formed in 1969 and were part of the cross-over Hard Rock/Prog scene of the late 1960s. Still together and still performing, they have experienced numerous lineup changes throughout their 52-year career, leaving Mick 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 24 studio albums (of original material), 20 live albums and 41 compilation albums (including two greatest hits albums). 12 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 15 Billboard 200 Uriah Heep albums, Demons and Wizards was the most successful (No. 23, 1972). In the late 1970s the band had massive success in Germany, where the “Lady in Black” single was a big hit.
Uriah Heep are notable for being part of the early 1970s rock scene (along with other British bands like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple), and have been referred to as pioneers of the hard rock and heavy metal genres. The band has sold over 45 million albums worldwide with over four million sales in the U.S, where its best-known songs include “Easy Livin'”, “The Wizard”, “Sweet Lorraine”, and “Stealin'”. They also maintain a significant following and performs at arena-sized venues in the Balkans, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Russia and Scandinavia.
For a reminder of the band during their initial phase, just before the release of the debut album, here is that Top Of The Pops session, as it was broadcast on May 5, 1970.