Even the kids in Def Leppard can’t make Uriah Heep feel old



By Steve Newton

Next Wednesday (July 20) at the Pacific Coliseum original Heepsters Mick Box and Lee Kerslake on guitar and drums will be joined by bassist Trevor Bolder, keyboardist John Sinclair, and singer Peter Goalby to give us Uriah Heep ’80s-style. Performing material from their new album Head First, as well as old gems from the Demons and Wizards/Magician’s Birthday period, it’s quite possible the band will have headliners Def Leppard sweating to keep up the pace. All in all it should turn out to be the most memorable hard-rock double bill to hit the city since Judas Priest and Coney Hatch.

Three weeks ago Uriah Heep played the Houston Astrodome before 68,000 fans with Styx, Ted Nugent, Sammy Hagar and Triumph. I caught up to vocalist Peter Goalby via telephone in Corpus Christi, Texas, and asked him about the new album, his group’s popularity in the USSR, and the current hard-rock scene in Britain.

How did you come to join Uriah Heep?

Just before I joined I was singing with a band called Trapeze. I’d written some songs and done demos of them with Ashley Howe, Uriah Heep’s producer, and he told Micky about me. So Micky phoned me up and asked if I’d be interested in joining Heep and I said, “Of course I would.” But this was about two weeks before I was due to start an American tour with Trapeze! So I told him that I had to do the tour, which lasted about two months, but that I’d be happy to come down and talk about it and have a jam when I got back.

I honestly expected the job would be filled when I returned, but when I did he said that they’d seen a lot of singers but still wanted me to join. So here I am!


Is it true that at that point–just before the recording of Abominog–Mick Box was about to dissolve the band because he felt it was becoming stale?

Well, what happened was they were halfway through Abominog and Micky just took all the songs home with him. The whole thing was scrapped, and he fired everybody. He didn’t fire Trevor–Trevor left at that time to go with Wishbone Ash, and we’ve got him back now.

Trevor Bolder used to play in David Bowie‘s band the Spiders; his work on Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane really stands out. How is he fitting in with the band since his return?

Excellent. It’s as though he’s never been gone.

Why did the bassist on Head First, Bob Daisley, leave the band?

Well, Bob came from Ozzy Osbourne. He did two albums with him and then left and came with Heep, and ever since then Ozzy’s been trying to get him back.

It all started in the middle of last year. We were in the States touring and Ozzy was phoning every other day to try and get Bob to leave. He was offering him silly amounts of money but Bob kept turning it down. Eventually he just made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

That’s funny, because I was just talking to Fast Eddie Clarke of Fastway a while back and he said that Ozzy did the same thing with his bass player, Pete Way. I guess Ozzy gave him the elbow when he got Bob Daisley back.

That’s right. It’s a shame, but there you go.

Uriah Heep has been around now–although it’s members have changed–for 13 years. What do you think has kept it going?

The people. People still stand by the band and, in fact, it’s starting to happen all over again! Which is great, especially for Micky. It’s been his life.

Were you a fan of Heep in the old days?

Oh yeah. You see, it’s great fun for me to do the old songs because I was such a fan of them anyway.

Do you do some of the old Heep songs in concert?

Oh yeah, we do “Easy Living”, “July Morning”, “The Wizard”, “Stealin'”. The thing is. a lot of people who come to see us want to hear those songs, so I think it would be unfair if we didn’t play them.

What’s your favorite album from the old Uriah Heep days?


Demons and Wizards.

Do you know what the other members from the Demons and Wizards period are doing now? I know that Ken Hensley is in Blackfoot.

Yeah, that’s a strange one. Very strange. He left Heep to go solo, and formed his own band called Ken Hensley’s Shotgun. But he couldn’t get it off the ground, to be honest with you.

Do you have any idea what happend to the other old Heepsters, David Byron and Gary Thain?

Gary died of a drug overdose a few years back. And David formed his own band last year, but I don’t think he’s doing anything right now.

I understand that Uriah Heep’s popularity ranks second only to ABBA in the USSR.

That’s true. Can you believe that?

Why do you think that might be?

I don’t know. I think you might be able to put it down to the fact that the band has always played melodic songs. We don’t class ourselves as a heavy-metal band for instance. It’s a heavy rock band, yes, but it’s not heavy-metal.

You see in Russia there’s no charts as such. And they shouldn’t even be able to get hold of the record , but they buy them on the black market. Some Heep albums sell for about 50 English pounds over there.

It’s strange, because Elton John has been out there, so I would have thought he’d be the most popular. But they did a survey and we came in second. It’s great.

Do you think the band will ever play over there?

We’ll play anywhere. We’ve just come from playing Israel, in Tel Aviv, and we were the fist name English band that’s been over there.

When we finish this American trip we’re going to India and Sri Lanka. And Japan. So we’re very busy.

What’s life on the road like with Uriah Heep? Are they partiers?

[Laughs] I’m probably the quietest one. I won’t mention any names, but there are a few in the band that are very loud.

Are you more happy with the end result of your new album than your previous one, Abominog?

Yes. When we made Abominog we hadn’t actually done any gigs, and since then we’ve been playing all over the world. It makes you into a tighter band.

We thought that on Abominog it was a bit bass and drum light, so on Head First we’ve pushed the bass and Lee’s drum sound to the front. I think it makes it a lot more positive album.


It’s a good looking album–I like the cover art.

Thank you. It’s always difficult with covers, you know. I mean when we did the cover with Abominog people either loved it or hated it. A lot of people said, “God, that cover’s the worst thing”, and then others would say it was great.

What we wanted with Abominog was something that, if you flick through albums in a shop, you’ll stop at that one and look again. And people certainly did that.

But with Head First we wanted to get away from the monster thing, ’cause a lot of people thought it was devil worship or something. But if you look at it, it’s smiling anyway.


How did you come to record Bryan Adams’ hit “Lonely Nights” on Head First?

Our producer Ashley Howe heard the song, and he played it to us because he thought we should do it. And we were going to do it as the single, but we didn’t realize now that Bryan’s become very popular, that they were playing “Lonely Nights” all over the States. So when we handed over the master tape to our American record company they said, “Hang on a minute. This isn’t a very good idea because they’ve been playing the shit out of it.” We had no idea, because it took us about three moths to do the album and we didn’t have much contact with anybody while recording.

The whole idea was to put it out as a single from the album, but I’m glad we did it anway. It’s a great song. And I also found out there’s a track on Bryan Adams’ album called “Straight from the Heart”. I wrote one called “Straight Through the Heart.”

What do you think of the current hard-rock scene in Britain?

It’s getting quite healthy again. Two or three years ago there was nothing, because it was all new wave and that’s all the record companies were signing. Kids weren’t even forming rock bands because there was just nowhere for them to play and no one seemed to be interested.

The rock thing never went away, it’s just that the press was trying to tell the kids what they should be listening to. I think they can do it for only so long and then kids think, “Well, I don’t really want to listen to this.” So they go back to rock and roll, which has always been there. And it always will be.

What can the audience in Vancouver expect as far as your stage show is concerned?

We’re not allowed to use anything ’cause we’re on first with Def Leppard, and apparently they’ve got a big production. Because of the changeover between bands, if you go on first you just go on and play.

But hopefully the music is good enough. I don’t believe that we need too many explosions and too much scenery.

No offense, but do the members of Uriah Heep feel old when they see Def Leppard take the stage. Their average age is about 21.

[Laughs]. No, not at all. Good luck to them! The thing is, if Heep felt like that Heep wouldn’t be here. It would have stopped a few years ago. With the reaction that we get you feel about 16 years old anyway.


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