Lee Kerslake, best known as the drummer for Uriah Heep and Ozzy Osbourne, has died aged 73.
His death was confirmed by former Uriah Heep bandmate Ken Hensley, who said Kerslake died in the early hours of this morning (September 19) after succumbing to prostate cancer following a long battle with the illness.
“It’s with the heaviest of hearts that I share with you that Lee Kerslake, my friend of 55 years and the best drummer I ever played with, lost his battle with cancer at 03:30 this morning,” a post on Hensley’s Facebook fan page read.
“He died peacefully, praise The Lord, but he will be terribly missed. I know many of you were praying for him not to suffer and I thank you for that and, now that Lee is at peace, our thoughts and prayers should turn to his wife Sue who will need all the support she can get at this time.”
Kerslake had been battling prostate cancer for a number of years. In December 2018, he revealed he was terminally ill and his cancer had spread to other parts of his body.
Born in Dorset in 1947, Kerslake’s first band were The Gods, whose members at various times included Mick Taylor, Ken Hensley and Greg Lake. Kerslake played on the band’s two albums, ‘Genesis’ and ‘To Samuel A Son’.
After the band disbanded, Hensley joined Uriah Heep and Kerslake followed suit in 1971. He played on classic Heep albums ‘Demons And Wizards’ and ‘Magician’s Birthday’, and would go on to carve out a long career with the band.
His time with the band was only interrupted by his stint with Ozzy Osbourne, playing drums on the albums ‘Blizzard Of Ozz’ and ‘Diary Of A Madman’. The opportunity came after a chance meeting with Ozzy in the Kings Cross Hotel in Australia in 1980.
You can listen to ‘Blizzard Of Ozz’ below:
In 2007, Kerslake left Uriah Heep due to ill health, and was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2014. His final performance with the band came in December 2018, when he briefly joined them onstage in London, adding percussion and backing vocals to ‘Lady In Black’.
The rock legend wrote in a photo caption on Twitter: “I’m so glad that Lee Kerslake is enjoying his Blizzard and Diary platinum albums. I hope you feel better. Love, Ozzy.”
Kerslake, who along with bassist Bob Daisley, sued Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne for proper royalties on the aforementioned classic albums but eventually lost their case, Consequence of Sound reports.
The drummer told The Metal Voice in a December 2018 interview that the litigation left him “bankrupt.”