Lee Kerslake, Drummer For Ozzy Osbourne and Uriah Heep, Dies at 73
Ozzy Osbourne and Uriah Heep drummer Lee Kerslake has died after a long battle with cancer. One of Lee’s bandmates from Uriah Heep broke the news Saturday, saying, “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.”Lee played with Ozzy’s band in 1980 and ’81. He played on Ozzy’s first 2 solo albums — “Blizzard of Ozz” and “Diary of a Madman.” He also appeared in the 1987 Tribute Live album.
Former Uriah Heep keyboardist Ken Hensley confirmed Kerslake’s death on his Facebook fan page, writing: “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. He died peacefully, praise The Lord, but he will be terribly missed.”Kerslake began drumming for Uriah Heep in 1971 and went on to record a total of 17 studio albums with the band. He met Ozzy Osbourne in 1980 and was featured on Osbourne’s first two solo records, “Blizzard of Ozz” and “Diary of a Madman,” in addition to 1980’s “Live EP” and segments of the 1987 “Tribute” live album.
In addition to playing with the Black Sabbath frontman, Kerslake was an early drummer with the progressive hard rock group Uriah Heep and was featured on multiple classic albums. The drummer’s Uriah Heep bandmate Ken Hensley announced his death in a statement shared with Louder.
Kerslake’s struggle with illness was long and hard. He dropped out of Uriah Heep in 2018 … 4 years after getting a prostate cancer diagnosis back. His last performance was in London, when he appeared to join the group for “Lady In Black.”
Kerslake got his start on the drums at the age of 11, and his first professional gig was with the UK band Gods. After joining Uriah Heep in 1971, he recorded the classic 1972 LP Demons And Wizards with the group, which fused a progressive rock sound with a hard rock edge. After leaving the group due to a songwriting disagreement in 1978, he joined up with Ozzy Osbourne in the early 1980s, after the future reality TV star was fired from Black Sabbath due to his drug abuse.’We got Lee Kerslake literally just before we went in the studio, and it was just, like, four guys having a blast with each other,’ Osbourne told Rolling Stone while speaking about Blizzard Of Ozz’s upcoming anniversary.’We were all getting f**ked up on coke and booze, though Randy wasn’t. Randy never did many drugs. He smoked cigarettes; he didn’t drink much.’
In January 2019 Kerslake attended a ceremony at the Hall Of Heavy Metal History in Annaheim, CA, where he was presented with a pair of platinum discs for his work with Ozzy by Hall CEO Pat Guesaldo.
Kerslake had flown from The UK to California to accept the awards after being given months to live by his doctors. In the wake of the news, he wrote to Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne to request recognition. “I would like to get a couple of them to put on my wall before I die,” he said. “It’s on my bucket list.”