KEN HENSLEY Of URIAH HEEP, dies aged 75

Posted: November 6, 2020 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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Ken Hensley, the songwriter and multi-instrumentalist best known for his work with 70s rock band Uriah Heep, has died aged 75. His press representative said he had died “peacefully following a very short illness”. Ken Hensley, co-founding former keyboardist with Uriah Heep, died at the age of 75 at home in Spain on November. 4th, his brother confirmed.

Hensley wrote many of the band’s songs during his tenure from 1970 to 1980, performing guitar and lead vocals on a number of occasions. He later also worked with W.A.S.P., Cinderella, Blackfoot and others following his departure and led his own band, Live Fire. In a statement, Uriah Heep said Hensley’s death took place after a “very short illness,” adding that he “was one of the most important musicians of the past half-century. His work with Uriah Heep in the 1970s helped to make the band hugely influential. … A very spiritual person, Hensley became an inspiration to many and known for encouraging talented artists.”

In an interview with last month, Hensley explained why he had no writing credits on Uriah Heep’s debut album, “Very ‘Easy, Very ‘Umble”.“When I joined the band, I had a publishing contract with another publisher, which meant they had to hide my name,” he explained. “I did, in fact, write songs for the first album, but we just weren’t allowed to publicize it, and so it was disguised under Paul Newton’s name.”

He noted that the “reason I became the dominant writer was because I always wrote a lot of songs. In the days of vinyl, you could only put eight or nine tracks on an album, and I would go in with 10, 12, 15 songs, and the other guys would bring maybe one or two, so naturally, that’s the way it came out.”

Hensley left Uriah Heep after becoming disillusioned with their line-up changes, and said, despite a reunion show in Russia in 2015, he had no desire to return. “But to think about what we achieved together and the things that we did and everything else, it still puts a smile on my face,” he said.

The cause of Hensley’s death was not revealed. He had recently finished writing a memoir titled My Book of Answers, which is set for publication in February.

His Uriah Heep bandmate Mick Box said he was in “deep shock … Ken wrote some amazing songs in his tenure with the band, and they will remain a musical legacy that will be in people’s hearts forever.” As well as playing guitar and keyboards with the band – and helping popularise the latter instrument as part of an emerging harder rock sound – Hensley penned and sang lead vocals for one of the band’s key tracks, the stirring folk-rock song “Lady in Black” . He also wrote “Easy Livin”’, which was a hit across Europe in 1972, as well as a large number of the band’s other songs.

Born in London in 1945 and raised in Stevenage, Hensley came of age amid the British blues-rock explosion of the 1960s, playing in his early band the Gods with Mick Taylor, who would go on to join the Rolling Stones and John Mayall’s band; Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & Palmer also passed through their ranks.

In 1969, Hensley joined Spice, who soon renamed themselves Uriah Heep. He spent a decade with the band, recording 13 albums with them that straddled prog, blues, heavy metal and more, before leaving in 1980. Their biggest chart hit came with Return to Fantasy, which reached No 7 in the UK album chart in 1975; four of their albums from this period also reached the US Top 30.

After he left, unhappy with the band’s musical direction, the 80s featured spells with hard rock bands he had influenced, As well as occasional one-off live reunions with Uriah Heep, he sporadically released solo material, including the ambitious Blood on the Highway (2007), an autobiographical rock opera featuring the Alicante Symphony Orchestra, hard rock vocalist Glenn Hughes, and more.

Comments
  1. Oh Man. Rest in Peace Ken

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