Lady in Black (song)

"Lady in Black" is a song by the rock band Uriah Heep. It is the fourth track of their 1971 album Salisbury.

"Lady in Black"
Single by Uriah Heep
from the album Salisbury
B-side"Simon the Bullit Freak"
ReleasedMarch 1971 (1971-03)
RecordedOctober–November 1970
Songwriter(s)Ken Hensley
Producer(s)Gerry Bron
Uriah Heep singles chronology
"Lady in Black"
"Look at Yourself"

The song is credited to Ken Hensley. It tells the story of a man wandering through war-torn darkness and encountering a goddess-like entity who consoles him. It is often praised, by fans and critics alike, as Hensley's most poetic work. There were many b-sides for this song as a single. The most famous was "Simon the Bullit Freak" but "Bird of Prey" has also been the b-side for the song.[1] In 1981 the song was released as a single in Germany and in Netherlands and the b-side was "Easy Livin'".[2]


A brief comment on the cover of the original vinyl release commented that for Ken Hensley inspiration was a real case: a surprise visit of a rural vicar's daughter at a moment when he was in a very depressed state. The result of this meeting, and - some kind of insight - was the song "Lady in Black": a philosophical parable that tells us that evil cannot be overcome by evil itself. Later in an interview Hensley said, though: "...And the girl that inspired it will never know. I saw her through my hotel room window, but we never met!"[3]

According to Ken Hensley, he sang the lead vocals because David Byron did not like the song and refused to record it during the Salisbury sessions. Producer Gerry Bron proposed Hensley to record the lead vocals, and so he did.[3]


"Lady in Black" has been performed in the form of rock ballads (and not having the traditional verse-chorus), and has become one of the most popular concert numbers of Uriah Heep. It achieved great success in Germany and Russia.[4] While the song was never released as a single in the United Kingdom and United States, it made it into the German singles charts three times during the seventies. The 1977 re-release, in particular, became a major hit. It spent nine weeks in the German Top 20 during 1977, peaking at number 5[5] and a further seven weeks in the Top 20 during 1978, maintaining the number 5 peak position.[6] For this achievement Uriah Heep got the "Golden Lion" award, the German equivalent of a Grammy or Brit Award.[4]

The song was subsequently rerecorded for two of their greatest hits albums: Totally Driven (2001) and Celebration – Forty Years of Rock (2009).


Cover versionsEdit

  • Acts who have covered "Lady in Black" include the gregorian chant project Gregorian on their 2006 album Masters of Chant Chapter V.
  • Covered by Jack Frost on the band's 1999 album Glow Dying Sun.
  • Finnish folk metal band Ensiferum covered the song.
  • The song was translated into Finnish and covered by another Finnish band Lemon in 1972 as "Nainen tummissa".
  • In 1972 Italian singer Caterina Caselli covered the song in her album Caterina Caselli 1972, with title L'uomo del Paradiso;[7] Italian translation has been made by Claudio Daiano and Ettore Carrera.[8]
  • The song was covered by the Spanish folk metal group Mägo de Oz in a translated version as "Dama Negra".
  • Serbian heavy metal band Kraljevski Apartman recorded a cover version with Serbian lyrics entitled Slike on their 2000 album Izgubljen u vremenu.
  • Czech version Slečna závist (Miss Envy) is by metal band Arakain. It was huge hit in 1995 in Czech Republic.
  • Italian singer Spagna covered the song in her 2002 album Woman.
  • In 1989, the Russian band Kommunizm recorded a Russian version with different lyrics titled Vesely tanec sheik, releasing it on their Let It Be album..
  • There is also an Italian-language version, titled Di nero vestita, included in Io sono il vampiro, a 2005 album (O.S.T. of the homonymous 2002 horror movie) by the Italian progressive rock band Abiogenesi.
  • In 2002 the Romanian group Iris together with Mick Box and Bernie Shaw from Uriah Heep made a new version of this song named "Doamna in negru". This new version was a collaboration between Iris and the two members of Uriah Heep and the lyrics are bilingual in Romanian and in English.[9]
  • Ken Hensley also covered this song on his album "The Wizard's Diary" in 2004 and the version 8 minutes long while the original is no longer than 4 minutes and 44 seconds.[10]
  • The song was covered and translated on Ukrainian by singer-songwriter Yuriy Veres 2012 album 60/70.
  • John Lawton covered the song on one of his live concerts.[11]
  • Blackmore's Night covered this song in their album Dancer and the Moon in 2013.
  • In 2020 Vyacheslav Butusov released the cover-version of this song, dedicated to the memory of Ken Hensley

Chart positionsEdit

1971+1978+2008 Weekly Chart Peak
German Singles Chart[12] 5
Swiss Singles Chart[13] 6
South African top 20[14] 6
1977 Year-End Chart Position
German Singles Chart 41[15]
1978 Year-End Chart Position
German Singles Chart 52[16]


  1. ^ "The Official Uriah Heep Discography". Retrieved 2013-11-26. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ "Record sleeve image". Retrieved 2013-11-26. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ a b Ken Hensley: Demons & Wizards… Looking back at the Best of Uriah Heep. By Jeb Wright.
  4. ^ a b "Lady in black - single by uriah heep". Archived from the original on 2012-04-14. Retrieved 2010-01-02. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ "Infinity Charts - German Top 20 for 1977". Archived from the original on 2004-08-31. Retrieved 2004-08-31.
  6. ^ "Infinity Charts - German Top 20 for 1978". Archived from the original on 2004-09-01. Retrieved 2004-09-01.
  7. ^ "L'uomo del paradiso". Uriah Heep Italia. Archived from the original on 2012-03-30. Retrieved 2013-11-26. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ "Archivio Opere Musicali". Retrieved 2013-11-26. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ "Biografie Iris" (in Romanian). Rockmania Romania. Retrieved 2010-04-18. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ "Ken Hensley - Lady in Black". YouTube. 2011-01-21. Retrieved 2013-11-26. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ ""Lady in black" - John Lawton and B.T.R." YouTube. 2009-08-18. Retrieved 2013-11-26. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ "Offizielle Deutsche Charts - Offizielle Deutsche Charts". Retrieved 2018-05-28. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ Steffen Hung. "Uriah Heep - Lady In Black". Retrieved 2013-11-26. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  14. ^ Brian Currin (2003-05-25). "South African Rock Lists Website - SA Charts 1965 - 1989 Acts (U)". Retrieved 2016-10-07. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  15. ^ "INFINITY CHARTS: German Top 20". 2000-01-14. Retrieved 2013-11-26. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  16. ^ "INFINITY CHARTS: German Top 20". 2000-01-14. Retrieved 2013-11-26. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)