Progressive rockers URIAH HEEP will be rejoined by an old friend for a limited run of dates in May 2013 when they tour The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland. John Lawton, who was lead vocalist between 1976 and 1979, will reunite with the group to cover for Bernie Shaw, who requires some time off for a routine medical procedure. John had already been confirmed to perform as a one-off guest at an outdoor amphitheatre HEEP show in Spain on July 12. This show at San Javier will now feature both singers and will serve as an occasion for the band to thank John. As the shows will be recorded for official bootlegs, it promises to be a real treat for the fans. The sets will be skewed to songs reflecting John's original tenure with the band, a celebration of classic 1970s URIAH HEEP. this will be a unique chance to catch such a nostalgic performance, fronted by an ex-URIAH HEEP legend, always a friend of the band, who has returned while Bernie Shaw recuperates.
URIAH HEEP guitarist Mick Box has answered several questions regarding the return of John Lawton.
Q: Would you like to say a few words about John Lawton deputizing for Bernie?
Mick: I am delighted to welcome back my old mate to the band. With Bernie off duty for a short while, John was the most obvious choice. Having worked with John on a recent feature film called "Love.net", I knew that his pipes were in great shape, and that he would also be accepted readily by the HEEP fans. All credit to John, though, as once he had heard of the problem and was asked, he re-arranged a lot of his schedule to fit in with ours, which was really cool!
Q: What is the set structure likely to be?
Mick: To be honest, it will probably be a nostalgic set, drawn from the '70s, featuring the Byron and Lawton period. It would be unfair to ask John to start learning songs from the last studio recordings, as they have Bernie's trademark vocals all over them. This will make it an extra-special concert for the fans in that regard.
Q: Can you share a special memory of John from the late Seventies?
Mick: One of my abiding memories is HEEP playing "Wise Man" on "Top Of The Pops". If ever there was a song which did not give a hint of the band's hard rock background, this was it, and I was worried that we would be accused of selling out to commercialism. I needn't have worried, as John sang it so powerfully that he not only made the song his, hard rock fans loved it, too!
Q: And a message to the fans.
Mick: This will be a special set of dates with John, as we will be playing some classic songs in this nostalgic set, that may never be repeated.. We hope to see you all there to enjoy this historic HEEP moment.
In true HEEP style, the gig schedule is as busy as ever. The "Nail On The Head" tour has already seen the band perform 10 acclaimed shows across the U.K. and the band will have performed across much of Europe by the time they take the Download stage — helping to kick things off in style with an appearance on the opening date, June 14.
Originally founded by Mick Box in 1969, URIAH HEEP is truly one of the pivotal classic acts that helped define the rock sound and an era. Part of the fabled "Big Four" alongside LED ZEPPELIN, BLACK SABBATH and DEEP PURPLE, the HEEP story still has a long way to go. With classic songs like "Lady In Black", "Gypsy", "Easy Livin'" and "Stealin'" full of ambition, sophisticated writing, memorable tunes and, of course, the vocals — the five-part harmonies were a clear influence on the operatics of QUEEN.
URIAH HEEP was the first Western rock band to perform in Russia, they have headlined at stadiums worldwide: truly they've ensured their place at rock's top table. With Mick Box always at the helm, URIAH HEEP tours all over the world and is one of music's most exciting and reliable live acts.
In a more-than-40-year career, URIAH HEEP has released 23 studio albums and sold more than 40 million units; the most recent release was 2011's "Into The Wild".
While the band is thrilled to welcome back an old friend in John Lawton, the HEEP story rolls on, and more new music is to come soon.