Ken Hensley: history of the musician, biography, success with Uriah Heep, photos and facts
Ken Hensley - legendary musician: keyboardist and guitarist, singer and songwriter, and talented producer, who attracted worldwide attention as part of Uriah Heep. His way of playing was unique: He never took lessons and often improvised, and, he said, he did it all just to turn his poems into songs. In an interview, he once said that he played slide guitar using what he called "normal" attitude. And when Mick Taylor showed him the right way, Hensley sighed and accepted the fact that he was no longer capable of retraining. But his lack of professional knowledge had never stopped him from creating classics.
What he did had a tremendous impact on what rock music has become. Over the course of his career Ken Hensley wrote a number of timeless hits, including the famous "July Morning.", and has cemented his fully justified status as a legend.
The Childhood and the Emergence of Uriah Heep
He grew up in a strict religious family, but at the age of 11 music captured his heart. Ken gave his first small concert when he was 15, after which he began his journey from genre to genre and band to band. He eventually lost interest in soul music, shifting his focus to a heavier sound. All of this led him into the ranks of Spice - The group that would later become known to the world as the Uriah Heep.
You could say that Hensley became the heart of the band, while the vocalist David Byron was his soul and face. However, if Byron created a special magic on stage, it was Ken who wrote all those songs that David masterfully performed. At the same time all Heep members arranged them, so their music is completely teamwork.
On the wave of success
Today Uriah Heep is a legendary classic rock band. But it wasn't always that way. At first critics harshly criticized their music, refusing to recognize the genius of the group.
"People were buying up all the tickets to our concerts, but they (critics) refused to see it. We had to fight for the right to exist because they just didn't want to acknowledge us.
The band has released many great tracks, the most famous of which to this day remains "July Morning." from the 1971 album Look at Yourself. Hensley himself has repeatedly said that his favorite period of Uriah Heep is associated with the work on the record "Demons and Wizards"which was published a year later.
"We were all particularly united then..."
About David Byron
Alas, at some point the harmony came to an end, and a rift began within Uriah Heep. According to Ken, it all started with the death of the bass player Gary Taina.
"He was a force in the band, and after his death I realized that Uriah Heep had come to an end. Our chemistry wasn't the same anymore...".
Thane's death came as a great shock to Hensley.
"When you're young, death seems like a very distant legend to you. You feel that you are invulnerable. There's no way you can expect it to come to any of your comrades so early..."
But another "brick" that has cracked the wall of Uriah Heep is David Byron's alcohol addiction. According to Hensley, he felt he could no longer be in this chaos:
"I'm not a prude. I have nothing against a slightly relaxed bass player or guitar player. But when your vocalist is completely drunk, can hardly see the audience, and almost collapses on stage, muttering something incomprehensible to himself, it's over the line.
As a result, Hensley left the group, but his personal journeys had just begun.
Consequences of fame
Although he witnessed firsthand all the consequences of abuse, Hensley himself acquired addiction from heavy substances. In his interview he said:
"Success, money, women - it's all very cool! But I'm an addictive person, which had consequences. For a long time I couldn't give up substances. That's the life of a young guy who accidentally got into a rock band and became a star. At the height of Uriah Heep's fame, I lost my identity..."
In an effort to cope with himself, Ken moved to the United States, where he worked for about 15 years in a music equipment company. By his own admission, he was only able to get rid of his addiction 12 years laterAnd in many ways it is because of faith in God.
Remarkably, in 2007, Hensley released "Blood on the Highway." - a wonderful rock opera album that's about a guy who suddenly becomes a rock star. It's about what fame brought him and, more importantly, what it took away... According to Ken, in many ways it's a very autobiographical work for him.
A piece of paradise in Spain
Free from his inner demons, Hensley found true happiness. In America, he met the love of his life - a Spanish beauty Monica. After realizing that England had a terrible climate and that it was expensive to live in the States, the couple moved to Spain, where they founded their own little piece of paradise on earth.
"America was going down, so we decided to try England. Monica had never been there before, she's Spanish, but she didn't understand why it rained all the time. So we very quickly gave it up and moved to Spain. And it was the best decision we made! The weather here is beautiful and the wines are good! We built a little oasis for ourselves with a nice big farm - lots of sheep, goats, chickens, pigeons, and we rescued many abandoned dogs and cats."
Here, too, Hensley worked in his own studio, and enjoyed the peace of mind he had finally found. Sadly, the musician passed away in 2020. He was gone, but he never will not be forgotten and will always be in our hearts.