David Byron is probably one of the greatest voices hard rock ever had, being Uriah Heep’s frontman from 1969 to 1976, but unfortunately he is not remembered often.
Born David John Garrick, Byron began his music career with guitarist Mick Box. In 1965, they joined a band named “The Stalkers”. Which didn’t last long. Already in 1967, the duo formed another band called “Spice”. Soon after changed its name to Uriah Heep (name of a character in a novel by writer Charles Dickens).
Owner of a strong, powerful and crystal clear voice, David Byron was able to sing trebles worthy of Ian Gillan or Robert Plant. On the other hand, it had a firm and engaging tone of voice, performing brilliantly from harder songs. Such as “Suicidal Man” from 1974 Wonderworld album to softer, more melodic performances like Paradise song, third track on the B-side of the Demons And Wizards album.
Byron sang on Heep’s greatest hits like: “The Wizard”, “Gypsy”, “Lady In Black”, “Easy Livin’”, “Stealin’” and many more.
Guitarist Mick Box’s said Uriah Heep in the 1970s has always been in the shadow of Deep Purple. They’ve released wonderful albums, it’s true, but for Look at Yourself there was a Machine Head, for a High and Might there was Burn. It was an inglorious fight, especially since at that time wasn’t like today to promote and even produce their music.
David Byron’s death
Byron left Heep in 1976 after leaving his voice forever in such wonderful albums as Sweet Freedom (1973), Magicians Birthday (1972) and Return to Fantasy (1975). He ventured unsuccessfully into a solo career and two other minor projects. He declined due to alcoholism and in February 1985 was found dead in his apartment in Berkshire. David Byron cause of death was a heart attack due to excessive drinking. He had alcohol-related complications, including liver disease and seizures, on 28 February 1985. He was only 38 years old.
Mick Box talked about David Byron, saying
“David was one of the best vocalists I’ve ever worked with, simply because he never sang a song; He lived the music. Therefore, he touched everyone who heard his voice, he was very convincing. I think this was his greatest asset. After that, he became a charismatic person, and he was a star 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And never abandoned his role, while I could get there, do my job and get off the stage and be an ordinary person, like any other. He couldn’t – he had to live the music.”