Ken Hensley, an original member of Uriah Heep, has passed away at the age of 75 following a short illness. The veteran musician played keyboards, rhythm guitar and sang in the legendary UK rock band during their ’70s heyday, and was their chief songwriter during that time.
The news of Hensley’s death was reported by his brother Trevor, who wrote on Facebook, “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.
He added, “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. Ken will be cremated in a private ceremony in Spain so please don’t ask for information about a funeral. Ken has gone but he will never be forgotten and will always be in our hearts. Stay safe out there.”
Hensley was an original member of Uriah Heep alongside singer David Byron, guitarist Mick Box, bassist Paul Newton, and drummer Alex Napier. He remained with the band from its 1969 formation through 1980, during which time he wrote or co-wrote most of their songs. He appeared on Uriah Heep’s first 13 albums, writing such classics as “Lady in Black”, “Easy Livin'”, “Stealin'” and “Look at Yourself” along the way. On two of those songs — “Lady in Black” and “Look at Yourself” — Hensley handled lead vocals.
Prior to forming Uriah Heep, Hensley was a member of The Gods alongside such bandmates as Mick Taylor (The Rolling Stones), Greg Lake (Emerson, Lake & Palmer), and Lee Kerslake (Uriah Heep, Ozzy Osbourne). He also released multiple solo albums throughout his career.
Hensley moved to the United States in 1980 and became a member of Southern rock band Blackfoot for two albums. He also contributed to a number of LPs by other bands, including playing keyboards and organ for W.A.S.P. and Cinderella, respectively.
Fellow Uriah Heep founder Mick Box, who is still a member of the band, issued the following statement regarding Ken Hensley’s passing:
“I received devastating news this morning from Ken’s manager Steve Weltman that Ken Hensley has passed away.
I had just finished watching his video of the unboxing of the 50th Anniversary Box Set last night, where he seemed absolutely fine and justifiably proud of his time in Uriah Heep, which has just added to the shock.
We may not have always been the best of friends, but there were some wonderful times we shared too, which are the ones I will always remember.
Ken wrote some amazing songs in his tenure with the band, and they will remain a musical legacy that will be in people’s hearts forever.
His communication through lyrics and melody have stood the test of time, and with the power and chemistry of the band bringing those songs to life, we achieved success we could only have dreamed of.
My sincere condolences go to his family and wife Monica and may he rest in peace.”
Hensley’s passing comes just six weeks after the death of drummer Lee Kerslake, who was bandmates with Hensley in The Gods and Uriah Heep, as well as an early member of Ozzy Osbourne’s solo band.
Our condolences go out to Ken Hensley’s family, friends and bandmates during this difficult time. Watch him singing lead vocals on the Uriah Heep song “Lady in Black” below.