Some pieces of news render me thoughtful and mellow. One of these was the passing of Ken Hensley on 4 November 2020, a key and founding member of Uriah Heep with a tenure of 10 years. A short while ago, we already had to digest the demise of Lee Kerslake after a long illness, and now this. Truly, 2020 will not stay in our memory as a good year.
Hensley left a mighty footprint during his time with the Heep people. It would be a moot point to list all of the works from 1970 to 19801), there are so many.
But Hensley prominently appeared on RockmusicRaider a score of times for his involvement in records that the RMR crew commented upon. Gems like Demons & Wizards, The Magician’s Birthday, or – again – Salisbury2) come to mind. Boy, he even made an appearance on our review for Hex A.D.’s Astro Tongue in the Electric Garden3) in his function as a Hammond specialist.
During his 10 years with Uriah Heep, Ken Hensley was the key driver behind the success of the band. He singlehandedly wrote or co-wrote a felt gazillion of the most famous tracks this band ever produced. And again, it would kill the purpose of this article to list them all.
But Lady in Black (Salisbury) should surely be mentioned. A song that he wrote and interpreted at the same time. And one that literally reached cult status pretty much all over Europe back in its time. Or again July Morning (Look at Yourself) that he co-wrote with David Byron. A superb piece that will forever live in our memories. But let’s not forget great hits like Easy Livin’ (Demons & Wizards), one of a number of stellar tracks on a great album.
Sadly, Hensley left the band in 1980, the same year that his last record with UH – Conquest – released. And that’s when the mystique of this band kinda evaporated. Once the 1982 record Abominog arrived on stage, they were on different territory and never quite returned to the old glory4).
So, rest in peace, Ken Hensley. I hope you are in a better place now, wherever you are. Your music will continue to accompany us on our life’s journey and will serve as fond memories of one of the great musicians of his time.