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Ken Hensley interview

October 7, 2012

Ken Hensley interview

Interview:
I’m really pleased you took some time to
talk about your music. There has been so much discussed about Uriah Heep,
that’s why I decided we should talk more about the early years in our
interview. You were born in London and soon started to play with bands like The
Blue Notes, Ken And The Cousins and Kit And The Saracens and later The Jimmy
Brown Sound. How was the London scene back in the early 60’s?
Actually I had moved out of London by the
time I decided to be a rock star. I was living in a town called Stevenage, to
which my father had been re-assigned. I went to school there and met my first “jamming buddies” there. But London was the place to be and, as soon as I left
home I hooked up with the guys that formed the earliest incarnation of The
Gods, Mick Taylor, Tony Munroe, Brian Glasscock and his brother John.
London was such an exciting place musically
and culturally in the 60s, with so many great bands and so many great clubs to
play in. The rock & roll rebellion really started in a club called The
Speakeasy.
The first major band you were part of
were The Gods. Tell us how did The Gods came together and what are some early
memories from playing with Brian and John Glascock, Mick Taylor…

I just remember that we loved to play, made
no money but had way too much fun. After
Mick left to join John Mayall, we found another guitar player and got picked up
by Dave Paramor from EMI. That was exciting because we made the first 2 Gods
records at Abbey Road!
You originally started as guitarist, but
you turned to Hammond organ, while Mick was on guitar. Do you think organ gave
you more space and opportunities or what was the main reason you decided to
play organ?
I actually started playing the organ
because the band I wanted to join already had 2 guitar players and, because
they were all school mates, they didn’t want to fire them! They told me that if
I could play the organ I could join the band so I swapped one of my guitars,
learned some basic chords and did my first gig with them the following day!
You were soon signed for Columbia
Records and you started recording your debut, which was entitled ‘Genesis’ and
a year later your second LP called ‘To Samuel a Son’, which is early
example of concept album by a progressive band.

The music didn’t have a label then. It
was just pop rock within which we were able to experiment a bit. If that´s
so-called ‘prog’ then maybe you’re right.
What can you tell us about recording and
producing this two albums?
They were all done on 4-track machines, the
same ones they used for Sergeant Pepper and I remember it was all very
carefully planned because we had to ‘bounce’ tracks all the time. For me it was
the first big step on my dream journey and I actually got to see The Beatles a
couple of times at Abbey Road.
Where and with who did The Gods toured?
Are there perhaps any special moments you would like to share from touring?
We mainly played alone in pubs and small
clubs but we did open a couple of university concerts for The Who. That was
when I became friends with Roger Daltrey.
You also started working on the third
album, which was released with a delay under the name of  ‘Head Machine’ and the album was called ‘Orgasm’.
The album is certainly conceptual. Would you like to share a few words about
making this conceptual album? What do you remember from recording and
producing it?
I will answer these 2 questions in one
because there is a lot of misinformation about these recordings!
Both were ‘works for hire’. In other words
the producers hired me first to write the songs and then I got involved in the
playing, but NOT in the productions. I got paid for the work and walked away
never imagining that they would see the light of day then, let alone 30 years
later!
Did you do any live shows playing this
material?
No!
You are also featured on the first
album of ‘Toe Fat’. Tell us how did you join this group?
Cliff Bennett was a friend and, when his
guitar player quit, he gave me the job even though I couldn’t play guitar that
well. And of course I wrote a few songs for the first album. I quit halfway
through the second one.
You recorded some really heavy stuff.
Don’t remember really. Just remember
getting my first check, grabbing my girlfriend and flying to Paris for a night
of debauchery! Oh, and we discovered Harry´s Bar!! Ha!
In 1971 you joined forces with a German
band called ‘Virus’. How did you decided to join them? You were already in Uriah
Heep.
Did I? Don’t remember that! Unless that was
what Bodo called the ‘Weed’ band…
You released an LP under the name ‘Weed’. Would you like to
share what do you remember from recording and producing this LP?
I remember it was very frustrating! I kept
getting into fights with my German girlfriend.
Can you say a few words about the songs
featured on the LP and about that crazy cover artwork?
Not really. My heart was definitely not in
this project. I just did it for the money and treated it as a learning
experience. The art work sucks of course but that was
nothing to do with me!
I don’t want to ask questions about
Uriah Heep since almost everything was already answered, but just one question
about them anyway. Are there any special moments you remember and would like to
share with us. I’m sure there is a lot of special moments, but just pick one.
Getting our first gold record for ‘Demons
and Wizard’s in Chicago. Major great memory!!
Let’s move forward to your recent
stuff. You are very active and you are currently working with a bulgarian band
called ‘Sunrize’. Would you like to talk about it?
I work with them when I am in Bulgaria and
I will eventually mix their album. I hope to be able to take them out with Live
Fire in Europe next year so that, for pretty much the first time, a Bulgarian
rock band can get some decent exposure outside their home country. One big plus
for them is that their original songs are written in English, something that is
a problem for many non-native English speaking bands.
You also released your solo album
called ‘Love & Other Mysteries’. Would you like to present it?
Happy to, because I am so grateful to have
this CD released on Cherry Red, probably the best independent label in Europe
at the moment.
It’s a very personal record and the songs
are very lyrically dependent. In other words, it´s a songwriter’s album, a
little self-indulgent and you have to listen to it if you are going to get it. But there are life stories in it that will
touch everyone who listens, if they are being honest. It was tough to get it done and it
definitely challenges the listener.
What are some future plans for you,
Ken?
There are so many. As I write this, I am
preparing to go to Norway for a solo concert and then I go on the road in
Germany and Switzerland with my great band, Live Fire! We will record all of
these shows for a live CD that someone will release sometime.
Then I have to mix my live solo CD called ¨Live
Tales¨ which Cherry Red will release next year. There is live audio from shows
in Russia, Norway and here in Alicante, Spain.
Immediately after that I will mix the Live
Fire ‘live’ CD and then I go to Russia for 3 solo shows, to Sweden to rock a
cruise ship with Live Fire and then back to Russia for 10 more solo shows
before I close the year in Slovakia and The Czech Republic.
In January I will record a new studio album
of new songs with Live Fire here in Alicante.
Thanks for taking your time. Would you
like to send a message to your fans and to readers of It’s Psychedelic Baby
Magazine?

Only to thank them for their great support
over all these years! Without them and people like them in all corners of the
world, I would have no career and they are a constant source of inspiration and
encouragement to me.
Thank you and God bless,
Ken
Interview made by Klemen Breznikar / 2012
© Copyright
http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com / 2012
2 Comments
  1. Firefly

    Thank you for this article and big thank you to Ken that continues to feed our hunger music.

    Firefly from http://www.uriah-heep.fr/ (URIAH HEEP FRANCE)

  2. Firefly

    Thank you for this article and big thank you to Ken that continues to feed our hunger music.

    Firefly from http://www.uriah-heep.fr/ (URIAH HEEP FRANCE)

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