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Among venerable UK rock institutions, with Black Sabbath and Jethro Tull dispersing, we are, perhaps, really, down to just Deep Purple, Yes and Uriah Heep left to uphold the tradition of quality original progressive hard rock forged at the very beginning of a golden era for this music, late ‘60s into the nexus year that was 1970.
At that crossroads, along with Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, Uriah Heep helped invent a decorative and uniquely British form of heavy metal with their debut album, Very ‘Eavy, Very ‘Umble, offered as a self-titled on American shores, but whatever the titling, historically massive in the invention of a music format that would rule the ‘70s and only intensify in the ‘80s.
It is from those roots, with classic, crucial slabs of nascent metal such as “Gypsy,” “Bird of Prey” and “Walking in Your Shadow,” that Uriah Heep began their ascendance both at home and in the US, culminating in their most enduring works, Demons and Wizards, The Magician’s Birthday and Sweet Freedom, all of which went gold in the states and entered the Billboard Top 40.
Uriah Heep have been responsible for the most elevated and intelligent use of vocals in a heavy metal context amongst the major bands inventing the genre in the 1970s. It is for this reason Heep were coined the Beach Boys of Heavy Metal, and their influence is there for all to see in other bands including ‘Queen.’ They were also one of the forerunners of using the Hammond organ along with Micks signature wah wah guitar and this became the template for their sound.
Success has followed the forging of such an audacious formula. Across 25 studio albums, along with myriad live releases and compilations, Uriah Heep have managed to sell 40 million records worldwide, four million of those in the US. Impressive American numbers, but that leaves 36 million records to be sold in the rest of the world, underscoring the fact that Uriah Heep have become, through their relentless dedication to touring, a truly global band, with particular success in Germany, Scandinavia, Japan, Eastern Europe and Russia, where they were the first Western rock band to play live in Moscow in December 1987 to 180,000 people. Through their success as Rock n’ Roll pioneers this enabled other bands to follow in their wake and Russia is now part of every bands touring schedule.