Alcatraz Line up: 2019
A cat has nine lives but Uriah Heep has more. Fifty years into their career, founder guitarist Mick Box is still alive and kicking. In 1996 he stated he’d be a musician for life and he has kept his word. Formed in 1969 in London, their first LP ‘Very ‘Eavy Very ‘Umble’ is blasted by leading music magazine Rolling Stone but history was to prove them wrong. Just a handful of years later they rank among the biggest crowd draws on the international rock scene. The compositions of keyboardist Ken Hensley really hit home as Uriah Heep surfs the wave of success. Unfortunately, success begets excess and halfway through the seventies, booze, drugs and megalomania break the band’s momentum. When singer David Byron is given the boot in 1976, the worldwide success wanes although the new line-up with singer John Lawton and bassist Trevor Bolder (ex-David Bowie) puts out several brilliant records that are very successful in Germany, for instance. When Ken Hensley throws the towel in 1980 and the other band members walk out, Mick Box is effectively the only band member left but the critically acclaimed ‘Abominog’ (1982) reboots their career; the subsequent albums and memorable appearances at Castle Donington and Reading consolidate their success. When vocalist Pete Goalby and keyboardist John Sinclair jump ship in 1986, Box hires singer Bernie Shaw and keyboardist Phil Lanzon. The new line-up is instantly successful in Russia. Meanwhile Trevor Bolder has also returned to the fold and this line-up is stable until 2007, when health issues force drummer Lee Kerslake to quit the band. In 2013 Trevor Bolder dies of cancer but Box refuses to throw the towel and a new rhythm section (drummer Russell Gilbrook and bassist Dave Rimmer) brings fresh energy to the band. Box’s enthusiasm after all these years is truly astounding and the new ‘Living the Dream’ confirms Uriah Heep’s narrative is far from over. Look out for classics like ‘Gypsy’, ‘Lady in Black’, ‘Easy Livin’’ and ‘July Morning’, served up by Mick & Co with that eternal smile of his.