Saturday, September 19, 2020

Uriah Heep and Ozzy Osbourne drummer Lee Kerslake dead at 73

Former Uriah Heep and Ozzy Osbourne drummer Lee Kerslake has died at the age of 73 following a lengthy battle with prostate cancer.

The news was confirmed by former Uriah Heep member Ken Hensley.

"It's with the heaviest of hearts that I share with you that Lee Kerslake, my friend of 55 years and the best drummer I ever played with, lost his battle with cancer at 03:30 this morning,” shared Hensley on social media. “He died peacefully, praise The Lord, but he will be terribly missed. I know many of you were praying for him not to suffer and I thank you for that and, now that Lee is at peace, our thoughts and prayers should turn to his wife Sue who will need all the support she can get at this time."

Kerslake joined Uriah Heep in 1971, first appearing on their 1972 album, “Demons And Wizards”, and eight more records before exiting the lineup in 1978.

The rocker teamed up with Ozzy Osbourne and his new solo band for 1980’s “Blizzard Of Ozz” and 1981’s “Diary Of A Madman” releases, after which he rejoined Uriah Heep for another lengthy run that include seven more studio records before his departure in 2007 due to ill health.

Kerslake, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2014, fought a lengthy and expensive legal battle with Osbourne over songwriting credits and royalty issues from his work on the two albums; both he and bassist Bob Daisley’s names were removed from “Diary Of A Madman” following their 1981 firing prior to its release and falsely credited to new members Rudy Sarzo and Tommy Aldridge.

As the courtroom battle neared its end, Sharon Osbourne hired Ozzy’s rhythm section of bassist Robert Trujillo (now with Metallica) and drummer Mike Bordin to re-record Kerslake and Daisley’s parts on the album for a 2002 reissue as the pair were close to winning the case, which they eventually did.

Fan outcry over the move led to stickers on the 2002 reissue advising consumers of the change, which was ultimately sorted out in time for a 30th anniversary reissue in 2011 that saw the duo’s work re-instated with both returned to the credits.

Kerslake contacted the Osbourne’s in 2018 about his health status and to see if they would send him platinum album certifications for his work on the records more than three decades after the fact, which they finally did last year.

“It’s been 39 years since I’ve seen Lee,” posted Ozzy, “but he lives forever on the records he played on for me, Blizzard Of Ozz and Diary Of A Madman. Lee Kerslake RIP.”

Osbourne just released an expanded digital edition of “Blizzard Of Ozz” on September 18 to mark the record’s 40th anniversary.

See also:

Black Sabbath guitarist celebrates 50th anniversary of Paranoid album
Ozzy Osbourne releases new Crazy Train animated video
Ozzy Osbourne classics reach new US sales milestones
Ozzy Osbourne guitarist covers Black Sabbath classic The Wizard
Search Black Sabbath at hennemusic