Lee Kerslake, the drummer of the British rock band Uriah Heep and a onetime collaborator of Ozzy Osbourne, has died. He was 73.
Kerslake died on September 19 after a battle with cancer, said his longtime friend and former Uriah Heep member Ken Hensley. According to Classic Rock, Hensley wrote: “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. He died peacefully, praise The Lord, but he will be terribly missed.”
Kerslake was born in 1947 in Dorset, England, and after playing with the band The Gods joined Uriah Heep in 1971. He was with the band for decades, playing on their classic records Demons and Wizards and Magician’s Birthday and more. In the ’80s, he played on Ozzy Osbourne’s solo records Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman.
In 1996, Kerslake sued Osbourne and his wife Sharon over royalties and songwriting credits on both albums. The dispute resulted in Kerslake’s drum parts being removed and re-recorded by other players when both LPs were reissued in 2002, though they were reinstated in 2011.
Kerslake left Uriah Heep in 2007 due to illness, and was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2014. In January 2019, Kerslake was presented with the platinum discs for the two Ozzy albums he played on, flying from the UK to California to accept them in person after being told by his doctors that he only had months to live.
“As well as one of the most revered yet underrated drummers in the world, Lee was also one of the main voices in Uriah Heep,” Shaw declared in a lengthy post. “Never dropped a note in all the years I worked with him.” Read it in full here:
Well, where are the words to describe the feelings one has when you loose a friend, colleague , fellow band mate ( for…
Osbourne, who marked the 40th anniversary of Blizzard of Ozz over the weekend with a new animated video for “Crazy Train,” also paid tribute to his former drummer. See his tribute, as well as others from Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and Slash collaborator Todd Kerns below.
It’s been 39 years since I’ve seen Lee but he lives for ever on the records he played on for me, Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman. Lee Kerslake RIP pic.twitter.com/xWqVR0VJn6
— Ozzy Osbourne (@OzzyOsbourne) September 19, 2020
Sad to report Lee Kerslake has passed. A kind soul. Heep toured with us in the 70s. Lee always had a cheery “Hello” greeting. He will be missed! https://t.co/FVqMMVSZZe
— Gene Simmons (@genesimmons) September 19, 2020
RIP LEE KERSLAKE. Lee was a dynamo of a drummer who drove Uriah Heep through their heyday like a Crazy Train. He propelled Ozzy’s original band the same way. When last in London he came to visit although ill. A lovely man who fought cancer to the end with a smile. Rest My Friend https://t.co/P1sqpxrtp5
— Paul Stanley (@PaulStanleyLive) September 19, 2020
— Todd Dammit Kerns (@todddammitkerns) September 19, 2020
RIP, Lee Kerslake. Revisit his work with Uriah Heep by streaming Demons and Wizards below: