One-Hit Wonders In Memoriam – Uriah Heep’s Drummer Lee Kerslake - Goldmine Magazine: Record Collector & Music Memorabilia

One-Hit Wonders In Memoriam – Uriah Heep’s Drummer Lee Kerslake

Uriah Heep’s “Easy Livin” brought drummer Lee Kerslake to the Top 40 in the 1970s and, as a member of Ozzy Osbourne’s Blizzard of Ozz band, he was heard on FM rock radio in the 1980s on “Crazy Train.” Ken Hensley and Eric Singer share their memories.
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Lee Kerslake with Uriah Heep, 1970s, photo Fin Costello/Redferns, Getty Images

Lee Kerslake with Uriah Heep, 1970s, photo Fin Costello/Redferns, Getty Images

In England, in the late 1960s, drummer Lee Kerslake joined the band called The Gods where he met keyboardist Ken Hensley. In the early 1970s, Lee joined Ken again in Uriah Heep, beginning with their album Demons and Wizards.

Lee Kerslake Demons

Uriah Heep received strong FM rock radio airplay and toured extensively in support of their albums. In the mid-1970s, the quintet released a live double album which allowed Lee to showcase his drumming on popular early songs including “Gyspy” and “July Morning.” John Lawton, from the group, has performed this song in Bulgaria annually for many years. In his 2019 Goldmine interview John said, “’July Morning’ has become a kind of tradition in Bulgaria because on the first of July they celebrate their freedom from communism. They celebrate at 5:30 in the morning when the sun comes up with ‘July Morning.’ I only have to really sing the first line and the audience sings the rest.”

Lee remained with Uriah Heep through the late 1970s. Of all the songs on U.S. FM radio in the 1970s, the group’s sole Top 40 AM hit was the fast paced “Easy Livin,” which Ken Hensley wrote.

Lee Kerslake Easy

Ken told Goldmine, “Lee and I were friends for over fifty years, and we worked together for much of that time in The Gods and in Uriah Heep. Our relationship was rooted in our hearts and in our joint desire to achieve everything possible in our musical lives, and we did that. We traveled the world, selling millions of albums and concert tickets. We created music that will live far longer than any of us. All of our dreams came true and we re-lived a lot of them before Lee finally lost his battle with cancer on September 19th at the age of 73. I miss him now and I will miss him more with the passing of time, but we will have the joy he created in his songs and music for as long as we live.”

Late 1970s Uriah Heep: Mick Box, Trevor Bolder, John Lawton, Ken Hensley and Lee Kerslake, photo Fin Costello/Redferns, Getty Images

Late 1970s Uriah Heep: Mick Box, Trevor Bolder, John Lawton, Ken Hensley and Lee Kerslake, photo Fin Costello/Redferns, Getty Images

In the late 1970s, as Lee left Uriah Heep, Ozzy Osbourne ended his tenure with Black Sabbath. As the new decade began, the group Blizzard of Ozz was formed with Ozzy and Lee, along with Randy Rhoads on guitar and Bob Daisley on bass. They achieved successful FM rock airplay especially with “Crazy Train,” from the album Blizzard of Ozz, and again with “Flying High Again” from their next album Diary of a Madman.

Blizzard of Ozz, early 1980s: Randy Rhoads, Lee Kerslake, Ozzy Osbourne, and Bob Daisley, photo Fin Costello/Redferns, Getty Images

Blizzard of Ozz, early 1980s: Randy Rhoads, Lee Kerslake, Ozzy Osbourne, and Bob Daisley, photo Fin Costello/Redferns, Getty Images

By the mid-1980s, for Black Sabbath’s Seventh Star album, guitarist Toni Iommi was the sole original member. Eric Singer joined the group for the album, before his years with Alice Cooper and KISS. Eric reflected on the life of Lee Kerslake with Goldmine, “Lee was a charming and sweet man, but his best work was behind the drum kit. He was a very powerful drummer and leaves a legacy of iconic drumming on the many Uriah Heep and especially the two Blizzard of Ozz albums that he performed on. He was like a wild man behind that kit when I saw him in 1975 at the World Series of Rock concert at Cleveland Municipal Stadium. Wow! I felt honored to become friends with Lee over the years. It was always a pleasure to speak with him and be in his presence. I know for sure that he will be missed by many. All hail another drum god gone much too soon. R.I.P.”

Related link:

Goldmine 2017 article Uriah Heep reunion CD/DVD

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