Uriah Heep: Ken Hensley Staying With It (1974)
Two years ago, Ken Hensley, Uriah Heep’s organist and informal leader, told a Melody Maker reporter that he would probably never play in any band other than the Heep. More importantly, he said that even that association would not last for more than two and a half years.
Of course, that interview took place before Uriah Heep arrived as a full-fledged headlining rock band. It came after the release of four albums. The first two had been slammed unmercifully by critics and did not win a multitude of fans. The third, Look At Yourself, fared a little better. It even earned a silver disk for international record sales. The fourth had just been released, and its fate was uncertain.
Today, half a year short of his predicted departure from Uriah Heep, Hensley has made quite a turnaround. He states flatly: “…(we) all decided that we were going to accept the slight differences there are between us personally… and just get on with what we’re doing as a band. The band’s still together, and probably will be for quite some time.”
Thinking back to the earlier statement, Ken simply admits that he made a mistake. “I made a guess and I was wrong. It happens to everybody from time to time.”
Such a mistake is easily understood, however. Shortly after this statement was printed, that fourth lp, Demons and Wizards, brought both critical and public acclaim to the often maligned Heep.
This album marked a major turnaround in the band’s career. “I’ve always marked that down as a critical point because that was when Gary and Lee first started to work with us.” (Gary Thain and Lee Kerslake, at that time, replaced Uriah Heep’s original bassist and drummer.) “(That was) when it first seemed like there were five people who wanted to go in the same musical direction. That was really important. That was what was missing from those early albums. We had no combined, unified musical aims. We were all just kind of thrashing about trying to find a common direction.”
“As soon as we got Lee and Gary, that happened. Then we started to move along at the correct pace. That was the beginning of a run of successful albums, which was what we were looking for at that particular time. I even think now that it is reasonable to say, at this stage in our career, that Demons and Wizards was probably our first album.”
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© David Fandray, 1974
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