Hard rock drummer Lee Kerslake, whose career work includes playing on Ozzy Osbourne‘s first two solo albums, Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman, has died at age 73 after being diagnosed with terminal prostate and bone cancer in recent years, Billboard reports.
Kerslake’s death was confirmed by English prog-rock band Uriah Heep via a lengthy post shared to their Facebook page on Sunday. Kerslake had played with the group from 1971-1979 and again from 1981-2007.
“Well, where are the words to describe the feelings one has when you lose a friend, colleague, fellow bandmate ( for 20 some odd years!) brother in arms, let alone when it’s someone larger than life like Lee Kerslake?” the post reads. “As well as one of the most revered yet underrated drummers in the world, Lee was also one of the main voices in Uriah Heep. Never dropped a note in all the years I worked with him.”
The post continued, “As a person, he was generous to a fault. Always smiling and ready to entertain at the drop of a hat. Many a free drink was had after a show when he would get up and play with a local band at the nearest club we could find, and first up if there was someone with a fishing boat willing to take him out for the day. That was Lee. Now, he’s with his mates, John Bonham, Keith Moon, and the boys from Heep who’s already passed.”
Kerslake and bassist Bob Daisley both sued Osbourne for lack of royalty payments following the two albums’ releases in the early 1980s. Both musicians were fired prior to the November 1981 arrival of Diary of a Madman, and litigation aimed at collecting money from Osbourne left Kerslake in poor financial status. Though he didn’t give Kerslake any money, Ozzy and his former drummer mended their broken relationship in early 2019 as Ozzy recognized Kerslake’s efforts with framed album plaques acknowledging his participation on the two successful rock albums.
RIP Lee, thanks for the music!