Tag Archives: Lee Kerslake

URIAH HEEP – A Look At High and Mighty

Among the Heep faithful there are 3 albums that tend to stir up the most controversy and conversation, and often one of them is cited as the band’s ‘worst’ album by many fans or rock historians. I’ve already written previously my support for Conquest and for Equator, both albums that land at the bottom of any Heep album ranking, and the 3rd in that trilogy would be 1976’s High and Mighty – the last to feature original singer & founding member David Byron. Frankly, none of these 3 land in the bottom 3 for me, in particular High and Mighty, an album I rank in the top half of the band’s catalogue.

High and Mighty came at the end of a very busy period for the band. In ’75 – the band had changed bass players, adding John Wetton in place of Gary Thain, who had been fired, and the band got down to releasing Return To Fantasy in the summer of ’75. Ken Hensley also had his 2nd solo album Eager To Please released not too far off from that. A huge world tour followed the release of that Heep album, followed by David Byron’s solo album Take No Prisoners, and a Best of Uriah Heep issued in most markets (except for North America). So, to say High and Mighty might’ve been rushed soon after is more than likely. Despite Return To Fantasy being a huge success in the UK, the band’s last few albums were selling less in North America, and with this perhaps was the motivation to ‘fire’ Gerry Bron as the new album’s producer and produce it themselves. But, where as RTF had many more band co-writes and member contributions, High and Mighty would consist of entirely Ken Hensley penned tracks, with Wetton getting 2 co-writes. Ken has stated in the past the album felt more like a solo album, and both he and Wetton noted that not much of the band were around at the time, leaving the 2 of them to take on most of the production, aided by engineer Ashley Howe.

John Wetton’s presence is felt immediately on the opening track “One Way Or Another”, in which he takes the lead vocal. A fantastic beginning to this album with the opening guitar riff coming in with a fresh new strong sound, before Wetton’s bass, then drums and organ join in. This is a standout track, and a shame it never got a proper single release. There would be no global single from this album, with this song being issued in the UK (limited), and nothing in North America. David Byron was apparently off with chicken pox at the time of recording this track, so that was the reason given for Wetton’s lead vocal. John recalled in an interview that when David did come back he went in to sing the song, part way through stopped, saying that it was fine the way it was. “Weep In Silence”, a heavy guitar driven ballad, with Hensley’s distinct guitar sound throughout and a great vocal from Byron remains a fan favorite from this album, though it was never played live. “Misty Eyes” starts out gently with Byron singing the opening lines alone before the band comes in softly with acoustic guitar, organ and drums. A good lighter pop song that would’ve made a catchy single, IMO. The first side ends with “Midnight”, the longest track on the album, and most progressive,. An often overlooked epic in the band’s catalogue, and although Wetton didn’t get a co-write on this Or on “One Way Or Another”, his performances (bass, guitar, keyboards, vocals or backing vocals) make these 2 tracks his greatest contributions to his time with the band.

Side 2 opens with the anthem “Can’t Keep A Good Band Down”, a response and dig at the band’s critics. A good upbeat rocker that would’ve (again) made for a fine single. A shame the song would never feature in the band’s live show back then or ever. Next up was the pop-rock of “Woman Of The World”; a good tune, tho’ a bit on the lighter side. Might’ve made a decent single, but like a number of tracks here it lacks an extended solo or something unique as the song merely fades out quickly after the last chorus. “Woman Of The World” would include the band’s message to Bron in the harmonies – You can stick this contract up your flue “Footprints In The Snow” is a favorite of mine on this album, co-credited to Wetton. Love the mix of acoustic and electric guitars organ, and harmonies. An underrated classic from the Byron era, IMO. From here, despite how much I love this album, I can see how critics might disagree with my enthusiasm, as the next 3 tracks drop off a bit, especially the funky keyboardy “I Can’t Stop Singing”. I never ‘got’ this song, and listening to it now, I still don’t. . tho’ it’s not bad, and David sounds convincing on the verses, but the chorus… meh…. “Make A Little Love” is a guitar blues n boogie number, featuring slide guitar. Sounds like it could’ve been a good old school jam rocker, but it ends too early, like a few tracks here, sounding rushed . This one did make it in to the live set on the High & Mighty tour, but like the rest of the album was never played again (aside from Ken resurrecting a track live with John Wetton). The album ends on a high note, but a sad one with “Confession”, with David delivering an apologetic lyric on Ken’s piano ballad. It’s an excellent, moving ballad that sits behind the band’s previous ballads “Rain” and “The Easy Road”. A shame it ends so soon.

In 1995 I interviewed John Wetton and he recalled no leftover tracks being recorded, but sure enough 2 outtakes would eventually be released. “Sunshine”, a good upbeat number; love Lee Kerslake’s intro and playing here. The other cut is the guitar heavy “Name Of The Game”. This song appeared in another version on Ken Hensley’s From Time To Time album in ’94 (an album of solo outtakes and demos), as Ken had recorded the track in the late ’70s with members of Bad Company. A great heavy riff to open this song, fantastic delivery from David and slide guitar from Ken. To me, this sounds like it wasn’t totally completed or mixed well enough, hence it’s lack of inclusion on the album, but a crying shame this wasn’t totally finished and cleaned up and included – could’ve made for a very different outcome of an album that is often brushed off as “lightweight”.

High and Mighty received a huge press bash at the time in Switzerland, where James Bond was filmed. But after that the album dropped – with no worldwide single, and little push. As the band toured the US before it’s release – with no single on the radio or record in the shops, High and Mighty was kinda doomed. The tour saw Ken Hensley leave the band and return, and David Byron fired at the end of the European tour. John Wetton had already made up his mind due to the internal conflict, and and left as well. Many fans wrote the band off after David Byron was dismissed, and the band’s profile and album sales would continue to sink in North America.

But really, I kinda love this album. I realize it may be seen as lightweight or too much of a Ken Hensley solo project by many old Heep fans, but to me it had a new fresh approach and sound following Return To Fantasy and Wonderworld. The band experimented, did something new, and High and Mighty offered up a number of tracks that would’ve made fine singles. With John Wetton having a major hand in it, it sounded much more modern in tune with UK nd Asia, and a forward step from the band’s previous albums. Heck, I even think the album cover art is pretty cool!

KJ, 02/’22

A Pair Of Classic Albums: Blizzard Of Ozz & Diary Of A Madman

You know, those albums that go together as a set, if you have one – you got to have the other[?] They are linked in some way, be it – cover art, band line-up / personnel, success, sound, lyrical themes and song titles, etc…

So, I’ll start with one of the easiest pairs of albums for me, and that is the first 2 Ozzy Osbourne albums [aka the Blizzard Of Ozz band]. 1980’s Blizzard Of Ozz and 1981’s Diary Of A Madman – the same band, written & recorded less than a year apart, for the same label. These 2 go together as a set, more than anything else in Ozzy’s career, and for me it was all downhill after these 2 albums. Both were major successes, and gave Ozzy’s post-Black Sabbath career a huge lift-off. (I’ve also added in some detail & recall).

“I went to a gig in London, and there was a band called ‘Girl’ playing, and they were a Jet Records band; Widowmaker had also been on Jet Records (as you probably know). I was looking for work myself, and I thought ‘well, it’s always good to put yourself around and see who’s about!’ I met Arthur Sharpe – who had been working for Jet Records, and it was Arthur who introduced me to Ozzy. Ozzy told me he was about to form a band and would I like to go up to his house in Stafford, and have a play, and he’d get a couple of local musicians in, and I said ‘Yes’. So I went up there, and he knew I’d just come from Rainbow; he said he liked my playing and would I be interested [?]. And I said ‘yes, I’d be interested in getting a band together with Him, but I wasn’t so sure about the local drummer and guitar player that he’d got in. And he said ‘OK, leave it to me, hang on a minute.’ And he walked out of the room and in to the studio that was in his house and said ‘OK guys – it’s not working out – Now pack up your stuff and go!’ [laughs]. And that was how he told them, which I thought was quite funny. Then he got on the phone to Arthur Sharpe and said ‘Bob and I get on like a house on fire, and the fire-brigade’s just left!’ And we went from there. He said he knew a guitar player that he’d met in LA called Randy Rhoads, so Jet Records flew Randy over and we started auditioning drummers…. He [Lee] was the last drummer we auditioned, and we must’ve auditioned 30-40 drummers at that time. We almost decided on 1 or 2, but they didn’t work out, and we had one more to audition and that was Lee Kerslake…. We auditioned down at The Who’s rehearsal place at Shepperton in London, and he perfect within the first number! I think the first song we did was ‘I Don’t Know’, and as soon as Lee started playing he just went for it ‘big time’, broke sticks, bits of sticks were flying everywhere, and Randy and I looked at each other and thought ‘this is the guy!’. He was like a bull in a China shop – he was perfect!” – Bob Daisley, 1999

To start you had a new band [for any doubters, look up earliest band photos] that featured the line up of Ozzy Osbourne [fired from Black Sabbath, but who had a distinctive voice and was a major character], along with Bob Daisley – ex of Rainbow, Widowmaker, and whom would pen most of the lyrics on the 2 BOZ albums], Lee Kerslake – the last to join, had been a huge part of Uriah Heep’s classic line-up having played on their biggest albums, And a young American guitarist named Randy Rhoads – Rhoads was a guitar teacher, and previously played with LA glam rock act Quiet Riot; he could play classical guitar, as well as contributed huge riffs and solos. He had a sound of his own, and as far as ’80s guitarists go, he was #1 for me – NO one sounded like him, or was as creative.

“He [Randy] was admittedly influenced by Ritchie Blackmore, Jimi Hendrix, and certainly Eddie Van Halen, you can hear a bit of the Van Halen thing in his playing. But he had his own interpretation, and he had a great musical background, having come from a musical family – his mom ran a music store and Randy had been a teacher for quite a few years himself. It really fell together right, the chemistry was right, we got on well as personalities.” – BD

Although the band would co-produce both albums, Max Norman engineered Blizzard, while serving as co-producer on Diary [while Lee & Bob were cut out of the credits on this album]. You had Don Airey playing keyboards on the first album, while Johnny Cook played on the 2nd [uncredited]. And even though the album covers aren’t very similar, they do feature what would become Ozzy’s classic logo, as well as a photo of Ozzy in some scary setting [with upside down crosses], taken by legendary rock photographer Fin Costello.

(5) Ozzy Osbourne – Mr. Crowley Live EP (with Lyrics) – YouTube

“That was the idea – to make it a sort of comic book image. It took on legs with ‘Diary Of A Madman’ and with ‘Bark At The Moon’… It worked in establishing Ozzy after the Sabbath imagery. It’s the same stuffed cat on the first two. The cover for Japan’s Tin Drum cover was shot on the Diary set on the first day of construction.” – Fin Costello

I can put on either of these albums any days, both feature 8 classic songs [OK, Diary features a short guitar piece by Rhoads titled “Dee” for his mom, and “No Bones Movies” may have been a later add on that isn’t quite as outstanding]. But, both featured killer intro songs [“I Don’t Know” vs “Over The Mountain”], followed by a classic rocker that would be the major hit single off the album [“Crazy Train” vs “Flyin’ High Again” and become one of Ozzy’s trademark tunes, followed by a ballad [or lighter track\ featuring Randy Rhoads on acoustic guitar [“Goodbye To Romance” vs “You Can’t Kill Rock n Roll”]. Each featured another killer rock song with lyrics based on dark subjects to kick off side 2 [“Mr Crowley” vs “Little Dolls”.] “Little Dolls” would feature 1 of 2 big intros from the drummer.

It was just on the spur of the moment. And as we were writing it, and I went ‘I’ve got an idea for this’, and I did, as simple as that!”  – Lee Kerslake, 2014

(5) Little Dolls – YouTube

Also included would also be a fast paced rocker [one that is under appreciated IMO – “Steal Away” vs “S.A.T.O.”] , as well as an epic track featuring classical guitar and strings [or synths resembling strings] [“Revelation (Mother Earth)” vs “Diary Of A Madman”] – both have the band coming off like an metal orchestra! And not to be forgotten were 2 other fan favorite / classics [“Suicide Solution” vs “Believer”].

(5) Revelation (Mother Earth) – YouTube

Unfortunately, the band would be split with Daisley & Kerslake being fired before the release of Diary Of A Madman [hence, no credits and a photo of the ‘new’ Ozzy solo band on it]. A shame there are no official live releases from the one UK tour this band did, though there was a 12″ Live EP released between albums featuring live versions of “Mr Crowley”, “Suicide Solution”, and the non-album track “You Said It All”. The BOZ albums stand above and apart from anything else Ozzy did in the years [and decades] to come, and I eventually lost interest.

(5) Ozzy Osbourne – S.A.T.O. – YouTube

Over the Mountain, Flyin’ High …- They’re great tracks, they’re so different. And I was the first to ever put triplets in to an introduction of a song, also a single on Over The Mountain.”  – Lee K.

Randy Rhoads was tragically killed in a plane crash on March 19, 1982. A live ‘tribute’ album w/ Randy was eventually released, featuring much of these 2 albums, but with Ozzy’s US touring band.

“He was a very dedicated musician; he practiced a lot, he was really in to music. He was a very young up and coming guy. I think he got an award as one the ‘best new talents’. He certainly was and still is an influential guitarist for that sort of music, and he certainly had a lot to do with the success of Ozzy’s career as well!” – Bob D.

Bob and Lee went on to join a reformed Uriah Heep after their departure from BOZ, and .bring some of that ‘heaviness’ and energy to the albums Abominog & Head First. Bob would return to work with Ozzy, while Lee stayed with Heep for the remainder of his career. The pair reunited for 2004’s Living Loud project [along with Don Airey, Steve Morse, and singer Jimmy Barnes] where they did an album which included a number of remakes from Blizzard Of Ozz & Diary Of A Madman. In 2007 Lee was forced to retire, due to health issues, and sadly passed away September 19, last year. He made record a solo album in his last few years [recently released] titled Eleventeen.

Following the loss of Randy Rhoads, Ozzy carried on – first with a live album of Black Sabbath tracks [guitarist Brad Gillis doing an excellent job], followed by 1983’s Bark At The Moon. By this time Bob Daisley had left Heep and returned to write [uncredited for a few more Ozzy albums]. Max Norman was also back for Bark At The Moon, and the live albums, as was Don Airey. I liked that album [Bark] at the time, to me it tried to keep to the pattern of the 2 BOZ albums, and Jake E Lee [who would also get hosed, as well as not credited for his writing] did a great job. But the album was less heavy and less consistent, as well as including the ridiculous sappy ballad “So Tired”. Bob would go on to work on Ozzy albums The Ultimate Sin and No More Tears, as well as record with Black Sabbath, Gary Moore, and The Hoochie Coochie Men. He also wrote his book “For Fact’s Sake”, published in 2013, which detailed his career, with plenty of insight and stories into his time writing and recording Blizzard Of Ozz & Diary Of A Madman, and generally setting the record straight about his years working with Ozzy – a must read, really. Don Airey would eventually join Deep Purple, and Ozzy would carry on recording solo albums [with one released last year]. and with much of his live repertoire reliant on classics from the albums the original band created. I haven’t bought an Ozzy album in years, [mainly, but] not just for it being that last few I heard sounded forgettable, but the treatment of former band members [Sharon once referring to Lee & Bob as ‘session players’], the re-writing of Ozzy’s early history by Sharon, and Ozzy’s overall rise to fame as a TV star / celebrity, with his ‘metal’ persona and music taking a laughable back seat were about it for me. I was happy to see him with Black Sabbath 4 or 5 years ago, but I’m done with adding to my Ozzy collection in this lifetime – unless I come across something already out there of the original BOZ band I haven’t heard or have.

RIP Lee and Randy.

Additional links:

(5) Ozzy discusses the Blizzard of Ozz band BBC Aug 1980 – YouTube

(5) Over the Mountain featuring Randy Rhoads, Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake only – YouTube

The Official Bob Daisley Website

Randy Rhoads: “I started tuning up and Ozzy said, ‘You’ve got the gig.’ I didn’t even get to play!” | Guitar World

CRR Interview – Bob Daisley: Diaries of a Madman! (classicrockrevisited.com)

Lee Kerslake: the last interview | Louder (loudersound.com)

KJJ, 03/21

Lee Kerslake – The Gods / Uriah Heep / Blizzard Of Ozz – RIP

Lee Kerslake was the drummer and important member in the success of the bands Uriah Heep, and Ozzy Osbourne’s Blizzard of Ozz . He would also write and contribute backing vocals & melodies to a number of huge classic albums. His passed on Saturday having lived beyond the short period doctors had given him in 2018 when diagnosed with cancer. The man was determined to make the most of his last few years – including a documentary on his life & career, a solo album [both yet to be released], and generally trying to stay positive and productive, despite knowing the end was near.

As a pre-teen when I first heard the 2 Blizzard Of Ozz albums, and owning them soon after, I loved them – played them repeatedly, and still take them out regularly. Back then I was a fan of these albums [and followed Ozzy during the 80s], I hadn’t yet discovered Uriah Heep, but I knew Lee Kerslake’s name – it was on 2 of my favorite albums! I didn’t discover Heep for a few years, or understand why Lee [and Bob] were no longer in Ozzy’s band, aside from one mention in an interview where Ozzy claimed Lee went back to rejoin Heep. Discovering Lee’s work with Heep and all his related recordings was a game changer for me.

Live 73

From Bournemouth, England, Lee’s first break came when he became the drummer for London based The Gods, a band perhaps better known for the bandmembers that passed through it than the 2 albums, and numerous singles they’d released in the latter half of the 60s. At the time of recording the band also consisted of Ken Hensley, Joe Konas, John Glascock, with former members including Paul Newton, Mick Taylor, Brian Glascock, and Greg Lake. Lee played, wrote, and sang back-up on both of the band’s albums – 1968’s Genesis and 1969’s To Samuel A Son. From the first album [the better of the pair, IMO] he co-wrote 3 songs with guitarist / singer Joe Konas – “Misleading Colors”, “You’re My Life” and “Time And Eternity” – with the first one being one of the heavier songs the band did. On the band’s second album, Lee wrote 2 tracks – “Lovely Anita” and “Eight O’Clock In The Morning”, the latter being a favorite, and reminds me of Heep’s “Circle Of Hands”.
The Gods joined Cliff Bennett and became Toe Fat, with Lee playing on the first Toe Fat album, as well as joining Ken Hensley for the recording of Head Machine’s Orgasm LP. He then joined The Business, who became National Head Band, and issued their lone LP Albert 1 in 1971. This also included keyboard player Jan Schelhaas [pre Caravan, Camel], guitarist Neil Ford, and bass player Dave Paull [who would later join Lee on Ken Hensley’s first solo album]. The album would be a fine blend of pop, folk & country rock, progressive… but it didn’t go anywhere and the band split up, with Lee joining Uriah Heep in late ’71.
Lee joined Uriah Heep for the band’s most successful album – Demons And Wizards. The album was the band’s 4th, and it would be the one that featured such radio hits and classics – “Easy Livin” and “The Wizard”. Lee’s would jump right in co-writing on 3 tracks. The album’s success is often put down to the new line-up with Kerslake, Hensley, David Byron, Mick Box, and then-new bass player Gary Thain all jelling so well. This would become what is known as the “classic” line up of Heep for the next few years, and include the albums The Magician’s Birthday, Live January 1973, Sweet Freedom, and Wonderworld. The epic title track to The Magician’s Birthday, would feature a lengthy guitar & drum section, perhaps Lee’s most famous contribution to Heep’s legacy as a co-writer and for his performance.
Following the departure [and passing] of Gary Thain following Wonderworld, it was Lee who would help bring in bassist John Wetton for the next few albums, as a friend from the same region in England. The band would see further changes, with a another bass player [Trevor Bolder] and new frontman [John Lawton], within a couple of years. Lee would continue to write and shine on the band’s albums in the latter half of the 70s, contributing the songs “Who Needs Me”, from Firefly [which featured in the band’s live set during the era] and “Come Back To Me”, a ballad and single from Fallen Angel. Lee had also played on the debut solo albums by Hensley and Byron.
Lee left the band prior to the next album being completed. He went on to start his own project , and worked on material with Pete Cox [pre Go West]. But before long he was contacted to audition for Ozzy Osbourne’s new band, or as Lee would say “I auditioned them.” He was an instant hit with bassist Bob Daisley and guitarist Randy Rhoads, and joined what was known as Blizzard Of Ozz. The band recorded 2 albums, and 2 albums that are sacred to most Osbourne fans, with such classics as “I Don’t Know”, “Crazy Train”, “Mr. Crowley”, Flying High Again”, “Believer”… with the heavy performances of Lee & Bob, and the spectacular new guitar sound and skills of a young Randy Rhoads – Blizzard Of Ozz could’ve been one of the greatest bands of all time, but after the 2 second album Diary Of A Madman, Lee & Bob were left off the album photo and out of the band before Ozzy went to tour North America with their replacements. Lee also co-wrote on most of Diary, but it also his performances on these albums, and in particular his intros to “Over The Mountain” & “Little Dolls”, as well as the tracks “I Dont Know”, “Steal Away [The Night]”, and the title track to Diary of A Madman that made Lee Kerslake such a crucial part of the band and a legend to many new fans of these albums for decades to come. On the last few Uriah Heep albums Lee had been on were been less of the ‘eavy, but with these 2 Blizzard albums Lee was playing like he hadn’t played in years, with new and exciting energy.
Upon being let go from Blizzard Of Ozz, Lee was key in helping Mick Box reassemble Uriah Heep, by bringing with him Bob Daisley, and having been friends with John Sinclair [keyboard player] to help bring him in to the band. The ’80s Heep was off and running, [along with singer Peter Goalby], and released a trio of albums, most notably 1982’s Abominog. The new Heep sound was up to date, more Americanized hard-rock, with heavy guitar, various keyboards, harmonies; Heep was more like Foreigner – but heavier, and I think some of this new sound had to do with the energy that Lee [and Bob] brought with them from their previous recordings with Ozzy. After more changes in ’86 & ’87, Heep would be stable for the next few decades. Although, there was less albums, Lee was still a big part of the band’s sound and shone on 1995’s Sea Of Light, and 1998’s Sonic Origami. The latter would be Lee’s last studio album with the band [though a number of live albums & DVDs followed]. He was forced to retire in 2007 due to health issues, mainly arthritis.
There was the short-lived supergroup Living Loud in the early 2000’s, who Lee – along with Bob Daisley, Steve Morse, Don Airey, and Jimmy Barnes recorded an album that featured half originals and 6 remakes of tracks from the Blizzard Of Ozz albums. In 2014 Lee Kerslake returned again for a one-off album with guitarist/singer Stefan Berggren. Their album The Sun Has Gone Hazy, was an excellent return for Lee as a performer & songwriter. This was a solid release of classic rock that would appeal to any fan of Lee or Heep. It would prove to be Lee’s final album to promote [though a solo album has been recorded titled Eleventeen] , and I was happy to interview him during this period. I thought it was a great album with songs like “Walk Tall”, the Heep resembling “Super Sonic Dream”, and “As Time Goes By”.
Upon being diagnosed with cancer, Lee’s final years would include being inducted in to the Heavy Metal Hall Of Fame, as well as finally receiving his Platinum LP Awards for his 2 albums recorded with Blizzard of Ozz [via the Osbournes]. He also kept in contact via social media with his fans. And despite all the legal issues with the Osbournes over the years , he was quick to forgive and forget in the press and thankful for his awards. A man who was happy for being recognized for his achievements, his fans, and proud of his career. Will be missed, but left behind an amazing legacy of music to check out and enjoy.

Ozzy Osbourne Pays Tribute To Lee Kerslake


Here’s 20I classic tracks that Lee wrote (or co-wrote) and/or performed on:

The Gods – Eight O’Clock In The Morning

The Gods – Misleading Colors

National Head Band – Too Much Country Water

Uriah Heep – Poet’s Justice


Uriah Heep – The Magician’s Birthday


Uriah Heep – July Morning (live)

Uriah Heep – Circus

Uriah Heep – Suicidal Man


Uriah Heep – Who Needs Me

Uriah Heep – Come Back To Me

Blizzard Of Ozz – I Don’t Know


Blizzard of Ozz – Over The Mountain


Blizzard of Ozz – Diary Of A Madman


Uriah Heep – Sell Your Soul


Uriah Heep – Weekend Warriors


Uriah Heep – Dream On


Uriah Heep – Everything In Life

Living Loud – Last Chance

Berggren-Kerslake Band – Super Sonic Dream


Bergren-Kerslake Band – The Sun Has Gone Hazy


KJJ , 20/20

Further reading: