Former Uriah Heep Keyboardist Ken Hensley Dead at 75
Ken Hensley, cofounding former keyboardist with Uriah Heep, died at the age of 75 at home in Spain on Nov. 4, his brother confirmed.
Hensley wrote many of the band’s songs during his tenure from 1970 to 1980, performing guitar and lead vocals on a number of occasions. He later worked with W.A.S.P., Cinderella, Blackfoot and others following his departure and led his own band, Live Fire.
“I am writing this with a heavy heart to let you know that my brother Ken Hensley passed away peacefully on Wednesday evening,” Trevor Hensley wrote on Facebook. “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.”
He noted that “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.”
In a statement, Uriah Heep said Hensley's death took place after a “very short illness," adding that he "was one of the most important musicians of the past half-century. His work with Uriah Heep in the 1970s helped to make the band hugely influential. … A very spiritual person, Hensley became an inspiration to many and known for encouraging talented artists.”
Band leader Mick Box said: “I am in deep shock at the news Ken Hensley has passed away, and my sincere condolences go to his family and wife Monica. 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.”
In an interview with Eonmusic last month, Hensley explained why he had no writing credits on Uriah Heep’s debut album, Very ‘Easy, Very ‘Umble. "When I joined the band, I had a publishing contract with another publisher, which meant they had to hide my name," he explained. "I did, in fact, write songs for the first album, but we just weren't allowed to publicize it, and so it was disguised under Paul Newton's name.”
He noted that the "reason I became the dominant writer was because I always wrote a lot of songs. In the days of vinyl, you could only put eight or nine tracks on an album, and I would go in with 10, 12, 15 songs, and the other guys would bring maybe one or two, so naturally, that's the way it came out.”
Hensley left Uriah Heep after becoming disillusioned with lineup changes, and said, despite a reunion show in Russia in 2015, he had no desire to return. “But to think about what we achieved together and the things that we did and everything else, it still puts a smile on my face,” he said.
The cause of Hensley's death was not revealed. He had recently finished writing a memoir titled My Book of Answers, which is set for publication in February.