David Byron

ARTICLE ABOUT Uriah Heep FROM SOUNDS, April 13, 1974

I may interpret Mr. Mackies prelude to this article and tell you that he may not be too fond of Heeps certain kind of magic, but luckily this isn`t affecting the rest of this article too much. Yes, it is a good one from the golden days of Heep. And we get some good stories too…


Uriah`s own heep of gold…

Uriah Heep`s David Byron meets SOUNDS` Rob Mackie

You haven`t really seen a proper sulk until you`ve seen a trendy music-loving rock journalist sent off by his paper to see an un-trendy band that he doesn`t like and actually hasn`t heard for quite some time (but he`s not about to admit that of course).
The corners of the mouth droop downwards, the denim jacket fades a shade lighter, the penetrating journalistic questions dry up and shrivel while the mouth`s still in a tight set.
Just about everyone`s first Uriah Heep interview is done with a pretty surly grace. I mean, the only time I saw the Heep en personne, I was driven from the hall from sheer volume and found them virtually unreviewable. They work hard, they sweat like vaselined pigs, they`re competent on their instruments, they deserve their success in terms of entertainment and that`s it.
It`s self-explanatory. It works, and you don`t feel a desperate urge to see them afterwards and ask them the real meaning of those particularly obscure lyrics, or the philosophy behind their lifestyles.
So we troop off to do our first interview like we were going to the dentist, and we live and learn. The lads with the Dickensian nom de plume are in fact splendid company. Interviews with any combination of Heeps is no bad way to spend some time: they`re a fund of questionable jokes, extraordinary anecdotes and unusual honesty.
They all seem to enjoy their situation without taking it very seriously, and accept the lunacies of touring and being lionised – of which they seem to have had more than their share – along with the gold discs – of which ditto.
The Heep pick up gold discs the way you or I pick up bills. It`s become a habit that`s proving very hard to break.

David Byron`s definitely a registered gold album addict. “Actually, the more you get, the more you expect. It`s got to the point now where we`re on the phone saying `Has it gone gold yet?`, every week. And they might say `No, it`s got another 50,000 to go yet`, and you`re not really happy until they say it`s gone gold.” Soon, they`ll be wanting platinums for a million units.
It all means money, but then again, this is England, and you`re not allowed to have money, so the last few Heep albums have been recorded elsewhere – the last one in Paris, the next in Munich.
That`s all going to change, because Heep will quite logically have a studio of their own in the not too distant future, then have their own jet, their own film studios… The thing is you see that if you sit back watching  your bank balance getting pregnant, it all gets hived off in the direction of the Inspector of Taxes.
So what you do is spend it before somebody else does. “We need a plane actually, a little eight-seater, and then when we`re not using it we can rent it out you see. I mean we could all have a stereo system in every room and a colour TV set in the loo but what`s the point?”
The way the money does get used is to enable a band to create the sort of freedom that cuts down on the niggles of working: you get your own recording studios so that you don`t have to go through all the booking hassles, the having to be there at a certain time, and be out at a certain time.
Get your own plane and you don`t have the interminable hanging around at airports. You take off when you want to, do what you want on the plane, land at a convenient time and so on, get someone who can make your own films.


That step was taken after the band had hung around in the dressing rooms for an edition of Don Kirshner`s Rock Concert in the States, waiting on certain West Coast bands to finish tuning up and start playing, and feeling the adrenalin ebbing away. Eventually, they took the unusual step of leaving.
“I said `I`m going to be so drunk in a minute that I can`t guarantee my performance or anyone else`s and I can`t guarantee anyone else`s because nobody`s feeling too happy now, and we`re likely to not do too well. So we blew it, and I said `OK, let`s make our own films, then if someone wants a TV commercial and someone else wants a five-minute documentary, then we`ve got it, and we won`t have people saying `Stand on the spot marked `X` and all that.`”
So Heep hired Shepperton studios, hired their own audience and Tony Palmer to direct, and the half-hour section in America`s “Rock Concert” will be their own film, presented the way they want, with the sound checked out and so on… The Heep are becoming more and more a self-contained all-purpose unit, and they`re fond of doing things in style.
You can`t eradicate all the ills of touring though by shelling out some cash. A band like Heep that puts out albums with titles like “Demons And Wizards” and tours the States is going to run up against a few weirdos as sure as the Titanic isn`t going to float back to the surface.
There hasn`t been a rock `n` roll assassination yet, not actually on stage, but how would you feel if you were up there trying to lay down what we in the trade call a tight set, and you know that one of those pink, blurred faces out there has threatened to shoot the organist? Not awfully well, I suspect.
“I was just chatting to a girl before this date we had in Detroit. She said, `By the way, you`ve heard about the threat on Kenny`s life tonight?`. I said, `You`re kidding`. She told me that some chick`s husband had said he was going to come to the gig and shoot him.”

Now, while you might laugh off such talk in Cheltenham, you can pick up the local paper in Detroit and read a downpage item about the six unsolved murders the day before, and what if another longhair snuffs it? That`s life innit?
“We had police everywhere, all around the stage, but we didn`t tell Ken about it. The rest of us were on stage for 90 minutes waiting for a bang. That sort of thing, you just come off stage at the end of it and throw up.”
Then there was the time some pleasant young lady in San Francisco who had unsuccessfully tried to pull the Heep singer left a couple of notes in reception at the hotel: `Please phone home, terrible personal problems` and `Please call your lawyer re your divorce.`
Fortunately, David knew he didn`t have any personal problems at home and could laugh that one off but things like that could turn a travelling musician slightly spare.
The Heep have done their fair share of hotel molesting, and there was the time drummer Lee Kerslake dived into a pond fishing for goldfish with a penknife.
Another time time out for Mr. Kerslake came when he took rather a lot of valiums under the impression that they were asprins or something, while he was off on a fishing trip. “We literally carried him onstage in Phoenix, and he couldn`t play anything. He played, but he played through all the numbers and all the breaks exactly the same. To stop him you had to take his sticks away. We just turned all the amplifiers up, and looned about hoping no-one would notice.
“But he played the same tempo all night, and he`d be about two bars behind us. At the end of the first song he shouted to me over the P.A. `Ang on, me cymbals are fucked.` Then he got up, unscrewed all the cymbals, turned them all upside down, screwed them all back on again, sat down and shouted `OK`.”
Ah, the stories we could tell. But there isn`t space, so to make for a stunning last paragraph, allow me to reveal that the next Heep album has a track with an orchestra on it. And when you`ve adjusted to that, your lug`oles will have to get re-tuned again, for a David Byron solo album which is likely to be as Un-Heepy as Ken Hensley`s:
“Yes, I`m definitely doing one. It gives you a new lease of life.
“I`ve got about six songs now that I`ve written and they`re totally different. Some of them are rock `n` rollers and some of them are very slow. But you can experiment because you`ve got nothing to live up to, and in a way it doesn`t matter.” Still, I don`t think he`d be averse to a solo gold album, either.


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: Elton John, Sutherland Brothers & Quiver, Refugee, Mott the Hoople, Queen, Sweet, The John Peel Column, Little Feat, Sparks, Strawbs, Ducks Deluxe, Alquin,  Dr. Feelgood, Jimmy DeWar.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.


I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me  or put up a link to my blog. If you really like this sort of thing – follow my blog! Thank you!

A nice little article this one, with a band on a steady rise in fortune. Enjoy!


Uriah Heep with great expectations

By Tony Stewart

Charles Dickens would probably have allowed a slight smile to sneak across his lips if he`d known that a hundred years after his death, one of his literary characters, Uriah Heep, would be resurrected and used as the name of a rock band.
Mr. Dickens would certainly have been surprised to learn that the same band were to become the darlings of America during 1972. Lord, David Copperfield never knew that such a musical wizard hid in Heep.
Do you doubt the band`s success? Certainly many English acts return from the States and insist that they happened there, when half of them bombed. So when Heep came into London last week, evidence of their U.S. achievements had to be given.

We were upstairs in the Star Steak House, Soho Street, London. A journalist was bent double scribbling notes as Heep`s Lee Kerslake shouted a few answers. Mick Box was laughing as he filled the wine glasses. While vocalist David Byron and I found some escape from the hullabaloo in a far corner.
Byron was willing to give undistorted facts. How “Demons and Wizards” made gold, certified by the RIAA at over half a million sales. How their last tour sold out 60 per cent of the gigs, but the largest was only a comparatively small 12,000 seater. How advance orders for their new album, “The Magician`s Birthday” have topped a quarter million.
The band were only in Britain for a few days before returning to America for another tour. They`d sold out New York, Chicago, Toronto…the list is endless. Just on their own name though?

“Yeah,” Byron replies, concerned in case I doubted his sincerity. “Because as yet the promoters don`t really know who the other acts on the bill are.
That`s still being established. So the only act being advertised is Uriah Heep. And it`s selling on that.”
It seems that our Stateside brothers and sisters dig it `eavy. Heep are that, as well as being showy. Lights, clothes, impact. Americans seem to have an insatiable curiosity about such outfits, as though they`re finding replacements for Grand Funk and Sabbath.
Byron, with gold and silver rings on his fingers, adjusts a thick gold watch and argues that Grand Funk Railroad are on the way back.
“They do like heavy rock bands,” he agrees. “In America it`s down to two things. Either a softer country sound like Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young or the Eagles. Or it`s down to rock – Heavy exciting, FUN music.”


People who don`t dig riff-rock and the Purple`s and Sabbaths still dig Heep. Byron finds an explanation difficult and tells of young chicks filling the front rows. But later he just about summed it up:
“We`re a lot more melodic than Purple and Sabbath, after all. We play more variety of songs.”
American music journals have described part of the band`s material and appearance as psychedelic.
“I don`t really know what they meant by that,” Byron replies vaguely, “because I thought those days were over.”
Perhaps. The reason could be down to the colours and effect of the last two album sleeves. And an instrumental passage in “The Spell” – reminiscent of Pink Floyd`s “Atom Heart Mother.”
“Maybe. Yeah, we dig the Floyd,” says Byron.
“They say,” he elaborates, “that listening and watching us is overwhelming. You feel as though you`re going to hit the ceiling any minute, because it`s so colourful, visual and dramatic – we`re called arrogant and we`re called dramatic. And we`re also loud, but there`s a lot of dynamics in the music.
“We take it from right down here,” he continues lowering his head to beneath the table level to busting the walls apart.
“We aim to make everybody go out of that hall saying `Christ. What was that?` So your ears are still ringing a day later. That way, people don`t just remember the band – they remember the experience. We want to make it a total experience.”

So going to see Uriah Heep can be a frightening thing. He says: “People describe us as frightening to watch because they think somebody is going to drop dead.
“It`s like organised chaos on stage. It looks chaotic, then all of a sudden it`s very organised. They say, `wait a minute, they do know what they`re doing`. It falls apart again, and then you bring it together. We`ve always got their attention.
“I look around and see how many cigarettes are being lit. Because if people light up they`re not watching us. I`ve never seen many cigarettes being lit.”

Audience acclaim aside, the band have at last made it with the music on “The Magician`s Birthday.” “Look At Yourself” and “Demons” in part were blatantly conceived with the influence of Zepp, Floyd, Vanilla Fudge and pop-rock. But their talent is more a re-examination of their own originality.
“Now, all those bands you mentioned are bands we all like,” says Byron.
“Everybody`s influenced by hearing things they like. If I hear another singer, from Ray Charles to Robert Plant, and there`s a certain line to make me stop and listen, it goes in the back of my mind. Somewhere along the line it`s going to come out.”

Of Heep as a unit, he says: “If we split and formed different bands, we`d probably fail. The fact is it works in this band. You never question why it works. Once you do, it might lose the very thing which makes it work. So don`t question it, just dig it and carry on.
Undoubtedly. Part of which is the British, Japanese and German tours, resulting, we hope, in a live double set. Great Expectations.


In this number I also found the original ad for that all-time classic from John Lennon. This is how it looked like when it happened!

This number of the NME also contains articles/interviews with these people: Phil Spector, Esmond Edwards, Steeleye Span, Bob Harris, Elkie Brooks, David Bowie, The Osmonds, Johnny Nash, Shag, Kim Fowley, Mac Davis, John Peel and “Top Gear”, Slade.

The NME this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

  1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
  2. The offer should be around or upwards of 10 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
  3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.


I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog. If you really like this sort of thing – follow my blog! Thank you!

A relatively short interview today, but telling a strange story I din`t know about the relation between T. Rex and Uriah Heep at that time.
Have a nice read!


Music to lay chicks by –
Uriah Heep`s David Byron Talking

By Julie Webb

Informants at Kensington Market reported last week the almost unbelievable spectacle of Marc Bolan and wife catching sight of David Byron, lead singer with Uriah Heep, and then hurriedly scampering off in the opposite direction. To say that T. Rex and Uriah Heep are not the best of friends would be the understatement of the month.

Conflicting reports after a Chicago gig reached us here and it ended up as a rather hysterical bitch. That scene has now cooled a bit and I was able to ask Byron the Uriah Heep side of the distorted story.
“Briefly,” said Byron, “at about 4.00 in the afternoon we got a phone call from the promoter, or manager of T. Rex, asking if we`d close the show. Originally you see we were appearing as the middle group.
“We said `no`, and thought it funny they should ask at all. Then we got another phone call asking us to go on first, and again, we refused.
“Then, 10 minutes before we were due to go on stage we were asked to cut our 50 minute act to 35 minutes. We went on and did 40 minutes – got a standing ovation but were told we couldn`t do an encore.
“I think the crowd got pissed off about it simply because an audience can sense if there`s any aggro around.
“Now, looking back on the whole thing I think it`s just funny – the best publicity we`ve ever had.”

Heep may not be rated with the best progressive bands in Britain, but abroad – certainly in Germany – they are. Recently in a conglomeration of European magazines they were voted No. 1 underground band and No. 2 band for the future. And last year they sold more albums in Germany than any other band. But one would assume they would prefer more attention here.

“We`re not bitter,” Byron says, referring to rather mediocre response in Britain as opposed to abroad, “but it just makes us wonder why. `Look At Yourself` (Heep`s last album) didn`t leap into the album charts or anything here but it did have steady sales.
“We seem to be a group who sell albums when we`re on the road – people will come and see us and then go out and buy the album, rather than do it the other way around.”


Heep have now toured America twice – losing money on a first tour and breaking even on the last visit. The next trip, scheduled for June, will see the start of the profit, and all indications are that they could make quite a lot of bread.
“Look At Yourself” re-entered the U.S. album charts during their visit earlier this year and they found a situation arising where people were asking for tickets for the Uriah Heep tour while they were in fact the supporting band on the Deep Purple or Cactus tour.

“Before we went on the last tour we realised we weren`t going to make money”, Byron says, “but it`s an investment just going there because it makes it better the next time you go – and I think now we are beginning to make a name for ourselves there, simply because we have toured.”

The last tour saw a change in personnel – Mark Clarke leaving after the first leg, and being replaced by Gary Thain.
Byron: “The change in line-up didn`t severely change the band in that we didn`t have weeks of sorting things out musically with Gary. He joined us in L.A. We rehearsed for two afternoons and that was it. It`s worked out incredibly well really, and I feel sure we now have the five right members in the band.
“Three are temperamental, two are easy going. I`m not positive what Mark is doing now but I gather he is supposed to be getting something together with Bob Fripp and Jon Hiseman.”

May should see the release of the next Heep album, entitled “Demons And Wizards.”
“The Wizard,” the group`s current single, is a taster from the set, which Byron describes as being “Six light years ahead of the last album.
“We`re about half-way through it now and when I say it`s about six light years ahead I mean that the songs are much better – it`s the first album with real continuity and it`s far more melodic than anything else we`ve done. It`s also the first album we`ve written in the studio and then recorded straight off.”

While Heep undeniably fall into the progressive band tag – unlike other groups who are tagged with that label they don`t just go on stage and rely on a lead guitarist or a sweaty drummer, grimace at the audience and look miserable.
They work hard at getting their audiences at it – and even bother to wear brightly coloured clothes so that in large halls people at the back can see them. And generally they make sure the audience are full of bon hommie. Byron sums it up rather crudely, but perhaps aptly.
“If the chicks and guys can go out after one of our gigs and feel they want to get laid, then we know we`ve succeeded.” Ob la di life goes on…


Look at this amazing poster I found in this number! Would be nice if framed on a wall! 🙂

This number of the NME also contains articles/interviews with these people: Gene Pitney, Ginger Baker, Grateful Dead, Steve Took (T. Rex), Tony Visconti, The Who, Sandy Denny, Steamhammer, John Mayall, Vinegar Joe, Neil Reid, Jeff Beck.

The NME this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

  1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
  2. The offer should be around or upwards of 10 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
  3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.