John Lawton, best known as the former frontman of Uriah Heep, has died aged 74.
The singer’s death was confirmed by Uriah Heep, who shared a statement on social media revealing that Lawton passed away unexpectedly on June 29.
“It is with deep regret that we share the devastating and tragic news of the sudden and totally unexpected passing of John Lawton on 29. June 2021,” the band wrote on Facebook.
“Contrary to reports, there was no illness involved, which makes his passing incomprehensible. He went peacefully with his wife at his side. John will be greatly missed.”
They added that a “private funeral service to celebrate John’s life will be held following his wishes, with only family and close friends attending.” You can see the statement in full below.
It is with deep regret that we share the devastating and tragic news of the sudden and totally unexpected passing of…
Lawton was Uriah Heep’s singer from 1976 to 1979, appearing on three of the band’s studio albums ‘Firefly’ (1977), ‘Innocent Victim’ (1977) and ‘Fallen Angel’ (1978).
In 2013, Lawton rejoined the group for some European tour dates, including stops in The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland. The reason for his brief return was to cover for current lead vocalist Bernie Shaw, who required some time off for a routine medical procedure.
Paying tribute to his former bandmate, Uriah Heep guitarist Mick Box shared a message via the band’s Facebook page.
“The passing of John Lawton on the 29th of June came as a complete shock and has left me numb,” Box wrote. “John was a big part of the Heep family, and on stage when he was covering for Bernie, who was having hospital treatment at the time, he said over the microphone ‘you can check out, but you never leave Heep.’ That was our John and he was one of the good guys.”
The passing of John Lawton on the 29th of June came as a complete shock and has left me numb. John was a big part of…
He continued: “On a personal note we had some fantastic times in Heep, and some fantastic times too outside of Heep. On filming the movie ‘Love dot net’ and playing shows with him in Bulgaria we never stopped laughing, and I will always remember those joyous times.
“I enjoyed the songs we wrote together, and he had an amazing voice that was both powerful, soulful and with a bluesy edge. Rock music has lost one of the great rock voices of all time and his legacy will live on forever.”
Aside from Uriah Heep in 1976, Lawton sang with legendary German cult rock band Lucifer’s Friend (1969-1976, 1979-1995) and recorded nine studio albums during his time with the band.
In the early ’70s, he also joined the Les Humphries Singers, with whom he recorded more than 20 albums and took part in 1976’s Eurovision.