Although  Heep had a record deal in hand,  their  first  major  breakthrough occurred in Germany. The band scored a major reputation  in  Germany  at    a two day festival in Hamburg. Soon, word of Heep's popularity in Germany reached Mercury Records in the USA.



Uriah  Heep  had  quite  a  bit  of  negative publicity  in   the  early   years........ actually   throughout   their   entire existence.  Rolling  Stone   magazine  reviewer  Melissa  Mills summed   up  her  feelings  on   their   first  album,  entitled Uriah  Heep  in  the  USA,  "Uriah  is watered down, tenth rate Jethro Tull."  Her  infamous  quote,  "If  this  band makes it,  I'll  commit suicide!"  has landed her   in    the  Heepsters'   Hall  of  Shame.  Currently   Melissa's   whereabouts   are unknown and there has been no word on whether she followed through  on  her  vow.



Martin Popoff's  Collector's  Guide  To  Heavy  Metal released in 1997 lists Heep's first album ( Very 'Eavy, Very 'Umble in the UK) as one of the three major originators of Heavy  Metal  along  with  Black Sabbath's Paranoid and  Deep  Purple's In Rock. Ironically,  in an interview with Chris Tetley in 1979,  David Byron stated that he  had  never  had  done  anything  in  his  career that should  be considered  "Heavy  Metal"  and  he  added he didn't care for the term.



Early  on,  Ken  Hensley   added   a   unique   style   to   his   on    stage presence.   By  placing  his  knee  under the front of  the  hammond,  he   would rock  the keyboards  back  and  forth  to  the  point  they appeared       to be tipping over.



Ken took an opportunity  to sneak in a lot of his relatives  to  a  gig  in  his  hometown of  Stevenage.  He  had  his  relatives carry  guitar  cases  and claim they were with the band. By the time Mick arrived at the gig with his guitar case,  the bouncer was fed up with it and he refused to let Mick into   the gig.  Eventually Mick and his guest  (a Mercury Record executive) had     to purchase tickets to get in to the gig. Mercury Records later signed Uriah Heep to a record deal so the story had a happy ending!



Uriah  Heep   went  through  four  drummers    during   their  first   year.   Perhaps   this  was      the  inspiration   for   Spinal  Tap's  exploding drummers.  Their  first  drummer,   Alex Napier,  was  reputed  to  be   a   difficult   person   with  which  to  deal.   Even  the  roadies  were scared  of  him.   As  Paul Newton put it, "If at rehearsals you  were   to say  the  drumming  wasn't  quite  right, you had to be careful of how far you took it, because you could only go so far, then he'd want   to take you outside to settle it." He told the band   he was single to get the job and eventually  they noticed he was living with  a wife and three kids. When the band decided to fire him, everyone was afraid of how he'd react so they sent him to the management's office for them to do it.

Nigel "Ollie" Ollsen replaced Napier during  the  recording  of Very 'Eavy, Very 'Umble but he only played on two songs.  After a tour of the UK,  Ollsen  joined Elton John's band and left to tour North America.

Keith Baker played on the Salisbury album  and  was with the band during their first North American tour, but he didn't care too much for all the traveling and he quit after the tour.

Iain Clarke,  formerly  of  Cressida,  was  the next drummer to join Uriah Heep. He played on the Look At Yourself album, but due  to contractual problems, he was left off the album cover of the  English  release.  Iain eventually was burned out on all the touring and left the band.



Although  Ken  Hensley's   fantasy,   magical  lyrics  became  a  Heep trademark, Spice also had some magic in their setlist....   "The  Magic Lantern".   In  fact  the  first  Uriah  Heep  song   that   would  qualify  as fantasy   lyrics  were  probably  Paul  Newton's  "Dreammare",  a   very   Heepy song in  it's own right.  The Dreammare  instrumental  intro was originally   written   for    another  song   but    it    didn't    really    work. Dreammare  was  written  later  and  the  intro  slotted  in  perfectly.



On  Heep's  first  tour of the U.S.,  the band  was  figuratively thrown into the deep end.  They went from playing  small clubs in  England to performing in 20,000 seat arenas  as  support  for Three Dog Night and Steppenwolf!



Both Ken Hensley and Mick Box cite Vanilla Fudge's  guitar and  keyboard  sound  as  a major  influence  on   Uriah  Heep's  musical direction.





Keef  Hartley   told   Mike  Taylor  about  an  incident  that  occurred  when Hartley's  band  was  touring  with  Heep  in  the very  early  70s,  probably about 1971.   During  Mick  Box's  guitar  solo each night  in  the  show,  a bottle  of  vodka  was  lowered  from  the  rafters  on  a  rope.  Mick would continue playing guitar with his left hand and grab the bottle with  his  right hand and take a  large  drink.  Of  course,  the bottle was actually filled with water normally. As a prank, the bottle was filled with vodka on the last night   of the tour. When Mick turn the bottle up this time, he reacted  with  a  look     of shock and all  the color drained from his face. Being a true professional, Mick carried on with the show without even a break.

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