Lee Gary Kerslake (16 April 1947[1] – 19 September 2020) was an English musician, best known as the longtime drummer and backing vocalist for the rock band Uriah Heep and for his work with Ozzy Osbourne in the early 1980s.

Lee Kerslake
Kerslake with Uriah Heep in 1973
Kerslake with Uriah Heep in 1973
Background information
Birth nameLee Gary Kerslake
Also known asThe Bear
Born(1947-04-16)16 April 1947
Bournemouth, Hampshire, England
Died19 September 2020(2020-09-19) (aged 73)
Years active1968–2020

Biography edit

Early life and career edit

Kerslake was born in Bournemouth, Hampshire (now Dorset).[1] At age 11, he began playing drums and got his first professional gig with The Gods in 1969, going on to record three albums with the band. He later played with Toe Fat and National Head Band before linking up with Uriah Heep in November 1971.[2]

Uriah Heep edit

Kerslake first appeared with Uriah Heep on their 1972 album Demons and Wizards and went on to record nine studio records, as well as a live album, with the band before departing in 1978 after the Fallen Angels tour. He also played on David Byron's and Ken Hensley's solo albums, among other efforts during this period. On the Firefly album he was credited as Lee "The Bear" Kerslake, the nickname being a reference to his beard growth and overall solid physical build.

After achieving extreme commercial success with Ozzy Osbourne in the early 1980s, Kerslake rejoined Uriah Heep in time for their Abominog album, regarded as a comeback album for the band by many critics. He would remain with the band until January 2007, appearing on an additional six studio albums, bringing his total contribution to Uriah Heep's output to 17 studio albums, along with several live albums.

Ozzy Osbourne edit

In 1980, Kerslake met ex-Black Sabbath vocalist Ozzy Osbourne by chance in a lift at the Kings Cross Hotel in Australia. "He was in one corner with his bodyguard and his manager, and I was in the other corner with mine. Rather funny".[3] They would soon form a band and release the album Blizzard of Ozz with bassist Bob Daisley and guitarist Randy Rhoads, though the band would soon become an Ozzy Osbourne solo project due to a management decision. Kerslake's work can be heard on Osbourne's first two solo albums, Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman, as well as the 1980 Live EP and parts of the 1987 Tribute live album.

Kerslake left Osbourne's band in early 1981 to care for his mother, who had fallen ill.[4] On the Diary of a Madman notes, Kerslake and bassist Bob Daisley were not credited, with drummer Tommy Aldridge and bassist Rudy Sarzo instead receiving credit. Aldridge has stated of the Diary of a Madman album, "I think it's pretty obvious that it's not my drumming on that album. I have never taken credit for that recording and have always given Lee Kerslake, whenever asked or interviewed, the credit he rightly deserves."[5]

Later career edit

In 1998, Kerslake and Daisley filed a joint lawsuit against Osbourne and his wife/manager Sharon, seeking royalties and songwriting credits for their contributions to the Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman albums. The Osbourne camp responded by removing Kerslake and Daisley's performances from the 2002 reissues of both albums and having them re-recorded by bassist Robert Trujillo and drummer Mike Bordin. Due to fan objection, the original bass and drum tracks were restored when the albums were again reissued in 2011.

Kerslake was unsure why the Osbourne camp had treated him so negatively: "The only thing I could ever recall was once Ozzy had asked me to speak to her (Sharon) on his behalf regarding the two shows in New York in one night as Ozzy said 'I can't do two shows in one night — not with my voice!' He told me to tell her. I did as he said. I would have died for Ozzy as we were a band and I loved him as such. Because I broke the news to her, she's hated my guts", he recalled in 2011.[6] Entertainment attorney Steven Machat, who was involved in the deal Osbourne signed with Jet Records, said in his 2011 book Gods, Gangsters and Honour: A Rock 'n' Roll Odyssey that Sharon was not happy with the level of creative input that Daisley and Kerslake had in the band and wanted Ozzy to have full control. He surmises this led to the split and any ill-will she has since harboured for the drummer.[7] Album producer Max Norman, who produced both albums, concurs that Daisley and Kerslake made considerable songwriting contributions during their time in the band, while also noting that the Osbourne camp "might want to dispute that now."[8]

In 2003, Kerslake became involved in super group Living Loud, a hard rock project also featuring bassist Bob Daisley, guitarist Steve Morse and singer Jimmy Barnes. Keyboardist Don Airey made a guest appearance. The group released a debut self-titled CD, featuring covers of several Daisley/Kerslake penned Ozzy Osbourne tracks.

In 2003, Kerslake and Daisley's lawsuit was dismissed by the United States District Court in Los Angeles. This dismissal was upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.[9] Kerslake performed with his own band the "Lee Kerslake Band", guested with various bands and regularly joined ex-Heep members Ken Hensley and Paul Newton in "Uriah Heep Legends".

In early 2007 it was announced on the Uriah Heep website that Kerslake left the band 'due to ongoing health problems'. Kerslake was semi-retired because of illness.

In 2015 Lee started to record his first solo album Eleventeen which came from when he used to count as a child and could not understand why there was not an eleventeen.

In 2016 Lee teamed up with Tayla Goodman from London Bridge films, whom he met while dog-walking in Crystal Palace park and together with Pyrojunkies' Shane Cauldwell, they produced a music video for his solo album Celia Seanna.

In 2018 Kerslake and Goodman started making a documentary on Lee's life and his bucket list. Lee insisted that he wanted to leave a legacy for his fans and some money for his wife Sue. The documentary will feature Ian Paice from Deep Purple, Joe Elliott from Def Leppard, Mick Box from Uriah Heep, Nicko McBrain from Iron Maiden, and Gene Simmons from Kiss. The documentary was due to be completed by September 2019.

Health issues and death edit

In December 2018, Kerslake revealed that he was battling prostate cancer, saying that "the doctor gave me about eight months to live". He further stated that five years previously, he had been given four years to live. Kerslake's further health complications included psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis and two heart murmurs.[10]

Kerslake revealed that it was his final wish to receive the platinum album certifications for the Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman albums that he had worked on, and Osbourne granted that wish. Kerslake wrote a letter to Osbourne, informing him of his ill health and desire to receive the records. Kerslake subsequently received his platinum plaques.[11]

On 14 December 2018, Kerslake joined Uriah Heep onstage at the Shepherd's Bush Empire, contributing percussion and vocals to "Lady in Black".[12]

On 19 September 2020, Kerslake died from cancer at age 73.[13] He had completed recording a solo album before his death, titled Eleventeen, posthumously released on 26 February 2021.[14] He was survived by his wife, Susan, and 2 grown children.

Discography edit

Solo edit

  • Eleventeen (2021)

With The Gods edit

  • Genesis (1968)
  • To Samuel a Son (1969)

With Head Machine edit

  • Orgasm (1970)

With Toe Fat edit

  • Toe Fat (1970)

With National Head Band edit

  • Albert One (1971)

With Uriah Heep edit

With Ken Hensley edit

  • Proud Words on a Dusty Shelf (1973)

With David Byron edit

With Ozzy Osbourne edit

With Living Loud edit

  • Living Loud (2003/04)
  • Live in Sydney 2004 (2005, 2CD/DVD)

With Berggren Kerslake Band edit

  • The Sun Has Gone Hazy (2014)

References edit

  1. ^ a b "Lee Kerslake Songs, Albums, Reviews, Bio & More". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 October 2022.
  2. ^ "The Fuze interviews Lee Kerslake". Leekerslake.com. 7 April 2012. Archived from the original on 5 May 2019. Retrieved 5 May 2019.
  3. ^ "The Fuze interviews Lee Kerslake | Bob Daisley". 21 October 2014. Archived from the original on 21 October 2014.
  4. ^ "K.K. DOWNING STEEL MILL :: Keep Feeding the Flames!". 15 July 2015. Archived from the original on 15 July 2015.
  5. ^ "Drummer TOMMY ALDRIDGE Says OZZY Made Fun Of RONNIE JAMES DIO". Blabbermouth.net. 22 January 2005. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
  6. ^ "Legendary OZZY OSBOURNE Drummer Lee Kerslake Talks About Blizzard/Diary Reissues, Randy Rhoads, The "Evil And Nasty" Sharon Osbourne". Bravewords.com.
  7. ^ Machat, Steven (2011). Gods, Gangsters and Honour: A Rock 'n' Roll Odyssey. Beautiful Books. ISBN 1905636830.
  8. ^ "On Yer Bike with Studio Wizard Max Norman". Knac.com. Retrieved 4 June 2014.
  9. ^ "News – Federal Appeals Court: Ozzy Do". Knac.com. Archived from the original on 24 July 2014. Retrieved 20 October 2011.
  10. ^ "Former Ozzy Osbourne / Uriah Heep drummer Lee Kerslake has been given "about eight months to live"". Consequence.net. 12 December 2018.
  11. ^ "Ozzy Osbourne Gives Terminally Ill Ex-Drummer Platinum Albums". Loudwire.com. 20 January 2019. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  12. ^ Davies, Paul (17 December 2018). "Uriah Heep at The O2 Shepherds Bush Empire in London". National Rock Review. Retrieved 23 May 2019.
  13. ^ Scott Colothan (19 September 2020). "Ozzy Osbourne and Uriah Heep drummer Lee Kerslake dies aged 73". Planet Radio. Retrieved 19 September 2020.
  14. ^ "Late OZZY OSBOURNE And URIAH HEEP Drummer LEE KERSLAKE's Debut Solo Album 'Eleventeen' Receives Posthumous Release". Blabbermouth.net. 26 February 2021. Retrieved 5 March 2021.

External links edit