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Uriah Heep keyboardist Ken Hensley dies aged 75 after short illness

Amy Johnson
·2-min read
Ken Hensley and Live Fire perform on stage during live concert in Izvestia Hall on April 12, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Vladimir Artev/Epsilon/Getty Images)
Ken Hensley and Live Fire perform on stage during live concert in Izvestia Hall in Moscow, Russia in 2018. (Epsilon/Getty Images)

Uriah Heep keyboardist Ken Hensley has died at the age of 75 following a short illness.

The musician died "peacefully" on Wednesday evening with his wife Monica by his side.

A statement from his management said: “It is with great sadness that we announce that Ken Hensley, former Uriah Heep vocalist, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist passed away peacefully on 4th November following a very short illness.

“Hensley was one of the most important musicians of the past half-a-century. His work with Uriah Heep in the 1970s helped to make the band hugely influential.

Rock band Uriah Heep posed in Islington, London in November 1979. Left to right: singer John Sloman, drummer Chris Slade, bassist Trevor Bolder, guitarist Mick Box and keyboard player Ken Hensley. (Photo by Fin Costello/Redferns)
Rock band Uriah Heep posed in Islington, London, in November 1979. (Redferns)

“He also collaborated with bands such as Blackfoot, W.A.S.P. and Cinderella, as well as building a very successful solo career. As a writer he was responsible for such classics as Lady In Black, Easy Livin’, July Morning and Look At Yourself.

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“A very spiritual person, Hensley became an inspiration to many and known for encouraging talented artists.”

He is set to be cremated in a private ceremony in Spain, where he lived on a remote farm with his wife.

In a Facebook post, his brother Trevor wrote: "I am writing this with a heavy heart to let you know that my brother Ken Hensley passed away peacefully on Wednesday evening.

“His beautiful wife Monica was at his side and comforted Ken in his last few minutes with us.

“We are all devastated by this tragic and incredibly unexpected loss and ask that you please give us some space and time to come to terms with it."

London-born Hensley grew up in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, and went on to form band Spice with Uriah Heep's guitarist Mick Box and singer David Byron.

They changed their name a year late to that of the character in Charles Dickens' David Copperfield.

Ken Hensley of Uriah Heep playing piano at home,1977. (Photo by Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music/Getty Images)
Ken Hensley of Uriah Heep playing piano at home,1977. (Photo by Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music/Getty Images)

Hensley played in the rock band between 1970 and 1980, writing or co-writing the majority of their material.

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He then played with Blackfoot and John Lawton before forming his own band, Ken Hensley & Live Fire, releasing their first live album in 2011.

Hensley continued to reunite with his former Uriah Heep bandmates over the years, often at the Uriah Heep Annual Convention.

His death comes less than two months after the passing of his bandmate Lee Kerslake.

With additional reporting by PA.

Watch: Eddie Van Halen’s widow says she’s ‘shattered’ by his death