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How Uriah Heep came up with their band name

Uriah Heep

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How Uriah Heep came up with their band name

Uriah Heep was formed in London, England back in 1969 and became in the 70s one of the most unique bands from that scene. Mixing especially Progressive Rock and Heavy Metal, the band had incredible riffs created by the guitarist Mick Box and keyboard licks made by Ken Hensley, which were combined with the powerful voice of the vocalist David Byron.

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During more than five decades of existence there were many line-up changes with only the guitarist Mick Box being the constant member. But the band was able to sell an estimated amount of more than 40 million records worldwide.

But whas does “Uriah Heep” means?

How Uriah Heep came up with their band name

Originally the band that would become Uriah Heep was called “Spice”, because it was the perfect name to show that they had many different influences that would be present on their sound. Just like you can put different spices in food to give it a certain taste, they could also do that in their songs.

But after they were discovered by Jerry Braun, who invited them to record their first demos, the band decided to find a keyboardist. They ended up inviting Ken Hensley to join them. So with that addition, they believed it was time to change the name. So it was after Braun took his kids to see a movie about the Charles Dickens character David Copperfield, that he told the band about the character called Uriah Heep.

The guitarist Mick Box recalled that complete story in an interview with¬†Ryan Roxie (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage) in 2022. “We were discovered by a guy called Jerry Braun. He came down to a Blues club in England, saw the band as Spice, it was four-piece. He said: ‘Look, I really like you and your singer David Garrick at the time, (he later) changed his name to David Byron. (Then) he took us into the studio and said: ‘Let’s start working in the studio with all your original songs. (After this) we will talk about taking it further’.”

Mick Box continued:

“Of course it started working brilliantly. But I was very keen to try and include some keyboards, because I was a big Vanilla Fudge fan. Mark Stein was one of those innovators at the Hammond organ. I just loved the sound and what he could do.”

“The Hammond organ was one of those instruments that could encompass all the various musical styles we were embracing at the time. It could be very gentle, it could be very aggressive, it could be lovely, very angry. It could be everything. So our bass player at the time, Paul Newton, he was in a band called The Gods with a guy called Ken Hensley. We contacted him, he came down to the studio, loved the setup, loved the songs, wanted to get involved. So then we had a keyboard player, with the musical template changing the name of the band.”

It was the 100th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ death

1970 marked the 100th anniversary of the death of the English novelist Charles Dickens, which is one of the most influential of all time. So the TV and the newspapers were all celebrating his legacy and even movies were being made.

“It just happens it was the 100th birthday of Charles Dickens’ death, (the) English novelist. Adverts were on the buses, TV, radio and everywhere to celebrate this, of course. Our manager took his two sons to see a film version of one of his novels ‘David Copperfield’. (In that movie) there is the old Dickensian (character) called ‘Uriah Heep’. He came back and mentioned it to us. (We thought) no better than to use the name of the band from a great English novelist and one of his characters. So we liked it very much,” Mick Box said.

The novel “David Copperfield” was released in 1849 as a serial, being later published as a book in 1850. The story follows the life of Copperfield from birth to his mature manhood. It shows his marriage, family and every other difficult thing he faces in his life. The first edition had more than 600 pages

Uriah Heep was also a good name because of the “U”

Talking with Ryan Roxie, Mick Box also recalled that Uriah Heep was also a good name for another reason. It used letters that weren’t in the beginning of the alphabet. At the time bands usually had letters that were the first ones like Black Sabbath and Deep Purple.

“Also on the other side of thinking in those days in print, which was a big thing then. You had all the papers, not magazines, just music papers. It was Black Sabbath, Deep Purple… D, P, B, I, all early parts of the alphabet. With the U, we thought we would stand out. So that’s another way of thinking about it as well. That’s the full story,” Mick Box said.

I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG

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