Uriah Heep Newcastle City Hall 6th Feb 1980

Uriah Heep Newcastle City Hall 6th Feb 1980
Support from Girlshool
heeptix80It must have been pretty confusing being a member of Uriah Heep in the late 70s and early 80s. There were so many comings and goings. Let me recap on the Heep saga that I have been telling for the past few days. John Lawton was now an ex-Heepster having been ousted by Heep main man Ken Hensley. Enter a new young guy John Sloman fresh to Heeping, and last seen (by me anyway) singing about the “Bells of Berlin” in the excellent rock band Lone Star. A month or so later long-time drummer Lee Kerslake jumped off the Heep ship. Enter Chris Slade from Manfred Mann’s Earth Band. The new line-up recorded the “Conquest” lp, which was released in February 1980 and went out on their 10th Anniversary Tour, with NWOBHM rockers Girlschool as support. I saw the band at their concert at Newcastle City Hall, and was pretty impressed by the new Heep, who excelled themselves as usual, playing a set of crowd-pleasing Heep classics. Sloman has a pretty impressive vocal range and a great rock voice.
However, Ken Hensley was less than happy with this new Heep line-up, and felt that they were moving too far along a straightforward rock track: “The band had chosen John and I had opposed that decision. He was a good musician and he looked great but I thought he had little going for him vocally. The way that he interpreted songs was totally different to the way I had written them….we weren’t re-establishing our musical direction..” (from bio on official Uriah Heep site)
heepprog80Ken Hensley decided to leave the band on June 8th, 1980 after the previous night’s gig in Cascais, Portugal (which marked the end of a huge chapter in the band’s history).T his was probably as big a blow to the future of Uriah Heep as the departure of David Byron had been 4 years or so earlier. Hensley was the main songwriter in the band, and along with Mick Box, one of only two remaining original members. Nonetheless, this was Heep, and change was always happening, so onward they went. Gregg Dechert, a Canadian who had worked with John Sloman, was brought in on keyboards and they immediately went on a UK tour. The tour called at Sunderland Mayfair on 12 Nov 1980, where they were supported by NWOBHM bands Spider and Samson. To be honest I have scant memories of that gig, but think I was present. After finishing the tour John Sloman decided that he had enough of being a Heepster and left the band. At this point Mick Box asked David Byron to rejoin, but David turned the offer down. Trevor Bolder then also decided to leave and joined Wishbone Ash (are you following this ? 🙂 ). The band essentially disintegrated and Uriah Heep were down to one member, Mick Box.
More of the Heep saga tomorrow!
Typical Heep set list for 1980: Stealin’; Look at Yourself; Free ‘n’ Easy; No Return; The Wizard; July Morning; Free Me; It Ain’t Easy; Lady In Black; Won’t Have To Wait Too Long; Carry On; Feelings; Sweet Lorraine; Easy Livin’; Do You Feel Alright; Gypsy; Suicidal Man

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Many thanks for sharing your memories Peter. That was an excellent write-up.

    You can find some photos from the gig here:
    http://www.rentrock.nl/fotoboek/Uriah%20Heep%20Newcastle%20City%20Hall%20-%20February%206th,%201980%20-%20Thanks%20to%20Peter%20Reynolds/album/index.html

    Just a small correction which you might find interesting:
    Ken Hensley decided to leave the band on June 8th, 1980 after the previous night’s gig in Cascais, Portugal (which marked the end of a huge chapter in the band’s history).

    Reply

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