Famed Uriah Heep drummer, Lee Kerslake, who played on Ozzy Osbourne's first two solo albums — 1980's Blizzard Of Ozz and 1981's Diary Of A Madman — has died at age 73 after a five-year-battle with cancer.
Kerslake joined Uriah Heep in 1972 and played in the band almost continuously until 2007, until ill health forced him into semi-retirement. It was during a brief period in which he left Heep in 1980 that he joined Ozzy's solo project, after the singer left Black Sabbath.
Although Kerslake and bassist Bob Daisley played on the Diary Of A Madman album, they were fired before its release and bassist Rudy Sarzo and drummer Tommy Aldridge were credited on the album sleeve. Kerslake and Daisley later sued the Osbournes, claiming that they had contributed to the songwriting on both albums and had been denied millions in royalties.
In retaliation for the lawsuit, Sharon had both albums reissued in 2002 with the drum and bass parts re-recorded by Faith No More drummer Mike Bordin and future Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo, both members of Ozzy's live band at the time. Daisley and Kerslake's original performances were restored in the 2011 30th anniversary reissues of the albums.
Ozzy Osbourne saluted his former drummer and collaborator, posting on social media:
“It’s been 39 years since I’ve seen Lee but he lives for ever on the records he played on for me, Blizzard Of Ozz and Diary Of A Madman. Lee Kerslake RIP.”
Back in January, Ozzy Osbourne has sent two platinum disc awards to Kerslake. In 2018, during a chat with The Metal Voice, Kerslake revealed that after all these years, he just wanted platinum album certifications for both albums so he could feel some acknowledgement for his work before he died. He explained, “I really wrote a nice letter to (Ozzy and Sharon) and I hope they will come to terms with it and say yes.”
Kerslake was granted his wish as Ozzy shared a photo online of Kerslake holding the Blizzard and Madman platinum discs, a handwritten letter from Ozzy on his chest. Ozzy wrote under the photo, “I'm so glad that Lee Kerslake is enjoying his Blizzard and Diary platinum albums. I hope you feel better. Love, Ozzy.”
Ozzy himself told us he was opposed to replacing the original tracks when he found out about it: “Believe me, it wasn't my doing. I mean, I didn't know that was being done, 'cause Sharon was fighting all the legal things that were going down at the time. I said, 'What did you do that for?' And she said, 'The only way I could stop everything was if it went to that level.' And I said, 'Y'know what, whatever the circumstances were, I want the original thing back.' I mean, I wouldn't have done that.”