Yes, I know, I published an article about this band only a couple of weeks ago, but I just feel that I need to give this band a little more room on the internet. Why? Because they are one of the great bands arriving from England in the late 60s/early 70s, and they should be mentioned in the same breath along bands like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath. Alongside Purple they are the only band of these from that era that still play their music on the road all over the world. Respect!
What a Heep
Rex Anderson talking to that very `umble band Uriah Heep
This is the band they call the Heep. Heep of laughs, heep of money, heep of trouble. Hang ups? Listen! The word was invented by these guys.
Businesswise – fine. Well managed… well organised… went down a storm in the States… great new album… off on a British tour – fantastic. On stage they rock like the Empire State in a high wind – and that`s really rocking babe.
Come and spend a day with them. Mad looking aren`t they? They are. Mick Box is the worst. He smashed two Gibsons on the American tour. “I threw them up and forgot to catch them.” He told the same joke three times – about the nine-year-old gynaecologist (he wanted to be a heart surgeon but he couldn`t reach that high) – we all laughed politely the third time. Lee Kerslake is insane. “I`m only the drummer. I`m not expected to have brains as well.” And David Byron actually encourages him: feeding bits of sausage to him as Lee bounds round the floor barking like an overgrown Spaniel. “I put too much mustard on that bit. That should shut him up.”
Mick is bouncing about on the sofa examining his repaired Gibson and working his way round to telling the gynaecologist joke again. Gary Thain, the bass player, is being unbelievably quiet and Ken Hensley, their keyboards man, is worrying about what he just told the News of the World, in between Monty Python impersonations.
Lee: “Christ Dave. What did you put on that sausage.” Yelps and pads off towards the drinks trolley. In between the interviews, most of the conversation is taken up with planning a set for their next gig and discussing their health.
The band is dying on its feet. You can see that. That`s not to say they are splitting or anything boring like that. In fact they are very happy with each other. The wise cracks bounce back and forth and Lee`s occasional fits are almost ignored.
But they are all so ill. Gary Thain`s voice sounds like a kiwi in a gravel pit. He`s also having trouble with his back. Dave has got back pains as well and Ken says he can`t eat and wakes up with a headache every morning. Lee says he`s the same. “I just want to sleep all day and stay awake all night.”
Dave says he feels fine. How does he know? His doctor told him he felt fine. “It wouldn`t matter if he was a charlatan. As long as he said you were 100 per cent fit you`re on stage feeling great.” Ken has to slip off to see the band`s doctor.
“He`s a wonderful doctor,” says Lee. “He`s got these new pills that completely cleared my sinuses.” Gary has got to break rehearsals the next day to see the same doctor. Dave says he`s sick. “Sick of that Demons and Wizards angle. We`re going to get right away from that on the next album. It`s going to be recorded live on the tour. A double.”
Mick says he likes all that Demons and Magicians bit. Ken has been getting letters from a cat who calls himself a wizard and is designing a space station. “I`ve got all the blue prints.” He also has mail from a witch in Japan who tells him everything he has done the night before. “It`s nothing like.”
There`s a bit of a hustle over rumours that someone has been circulating about the group`s behaviour abroad. They decide to hold a board meeting in camera and drift off into an adjacent bedroom. Ken and Lee get locked in. A flunky has to get a pass key to get them out.
Ken: “We ought to cancel all our tours and take the year off. I need more practice in taking holidays. I get so bored sitting at home looking at the floor boards. I play all me records and the piano and all me guitars one by one. That takes care of about three hours and then I`m back staring at the boards again.”
Fact is, the group enjoy being together and out on the road. Dave admits they are all nervous before a tour, but they love being out on stage triggering things off and playing up to each other.
Lee is making a list of numbers for the Rainbow concert. There`s “Magician`s Birthday” and then, “Sunrise”, “Traveller In Time”, “Sweet Loraine”. From Dave: “No. `Traveller In Time` comes after `Sweet Loraine` and then `Easy Living`.” Lee: “`Easy Living`, `July Morning`, `Gypsy`. How do you spell `Gypsy`?”
Dave: “We can`t really work it out till we`re down there. We`ve got to work out `Magician`s Birthday`. You could try `Blind Eye`.”
Lee: “What`s that one that goes voom pa-da-da?”
Dave: “That`s `Blind Eye`. (to Ken) I`ve suggested that if we have a good piano and it`s miked up we could do `Rain`. I`ve worked out how to do that `Happy Birthday To You` vocal thing.”
Lee: “I can get a kazoo. That`s easy. I can play drums and kazoo.”
Dave: “Ken, I don`t know whether you can do it. That high voice I try to get on `Sweet Loraine`. It sounds like a Moog note.”
Mick: “How can you get that da-da-da?”
Ken: “We can do it two ways. Either with electric guitar, or I can try it on the organ. I can get that rhythm.”
Dave: “Only one thing about it. That `Musician`s Birthday` on stage. We`d have to be very volume conscious.”
Incredible isn`t it. And they can all understand every word they are saying. They are really very bright boys. It`s just the music that`s loud and violent. Perhaps it`s because of that that they have had so many hang-ups. “The authorities think we are violent,” says Mick.
There was the time that Ken`s life was threatened in Detroit and someone fired a bullet through Lee`s hotel window. Then there was the occasion they were all held at gun-point in Rome and the time they were all stranded in a snow-drift in the middle of Canada.
The group seems to spend their whole time trying to avoid death – either natural or accidental. They seem to upset people too. What is it? Do they go round the world smashing up hotels or something. “No. We don`t believe in that sort of thing. After all we have got to go back there,” says Mick.
What an incredibly sane thing to say, we all think.
“Did you hear about the nine-year-old gynaecologist…”.
I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!
This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Fairport Convention, Ronnie Wood, Jon Hiseman, Pentangle, Claire Hamill, Ray Davies, Al Kooper, Procol Harum, Hemlock, Graham Bell, Elton John, Brinsley Schwarz, Martyn Wyndham-Read, John Peel.
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