Lee Kerslake, who played drums for Ozzy Osbourne, died Saturday at the age of 73 after a protracted battle with prostate cancer.
In addition to playing with the Black Sabbath frontman, Kerslake was an early drummer with the progressive hard rock group Uriah Heep and has appeared on multiple classic albums.
Drummer Ken Hensley’s Uriah Heep bandmate announced his death in a shared statement Louder.
Drum Legend: Lee Kerslake, who played drums for Uriah Heep and appeared on Ozz Osbourne’s early ’80s classics, died Saturday at the age of 73 after a long battle with prostate cancer; shown near Paris in 1973
“It is with the greatest of heart that I share with you that Lee Kerslake, my 55-year-old friend and the best drummer I’ve ever played with, lost his battle against cancer this morning at 3:30 AM. He died peacefully, praise the Lord, but he will be sorely missed. ‘
Kerslake’s biggest commercial success came as drummer for Osbourne in 1980 and ’81, when he recorded the classic albums Blizzard Of Ozz, with the hit Crazy Train and Diary Of A Madman.
The drummer’s death came a day before Blizzard Of Ozz’s 40th anniversary, which was released on September 20, 1980.
Before working with Osbourne’s solo group, he played drums for Uriah Heep from 1971 to 1979, then rejoined the band in 1981 and stayed with the band until 2007.
Iconic Music: Kerslake’s biggest commercial success came as the drummer for Osbourne in 1980 and ’81, when he recorded the classic albums Blizzard Of Ozz and Diary Of A Madman; Kerslake (second left) pictured with Osbourne (second right) in 1980
Silenced: Kerslake was featured on the hit single Crazy Train on Blizzard Of Ozz. Despite playing drums on the follow-up Diary Of A Madman, he would not be credited on the LP
Kerslake started playing drums at the age of 11, and his first professional performance was with the British band Gods.
After joining Uriah Heep in 1971, he recorded with the group the classic 1972 LP Demons And Wizards, which fused a progressive rock sound with a hard rock edge.
After leaving the group due to a songwriting disagreement in 1978, he joined Ozzy Osbourne in the early 1980s, after the future reality TV star was fired from Black Sabbath for his drug abuse.
“We literally got Lee Kerslake right before we went into the studio, and it was just four guys having a good time together,” Osbourne said. Rolling stone while talking about Blizzard Of Ozz’s upcoming birthday.
“We were all fucking with cocaine and booze, although Randy wasn’t. Randy has never used many drugs. He smoked cigarettes; he didn’t drink much. ‘
Kerslake started playing drums at the age of 11 and first joined the British band gods. He joined the progressive hard rock group Uriah Heep in 1971, before leaving in 1978. He later returned from 1981-2007; shown in 1980
Erased: Kerslake’s drum tracks were erased from Blizzard Of Ozz in a 2002 reissue, which Osbourne blamed on his wife Sharon. The original tracks have been restored for the 30th anniversary release; Osbourne shown in LA in 2018
Despite playing drums on Diary Of A Madman, Kerslake’s name was cleared from the album and replaced with later drummer Tommy Aldridge, although Aldrige admitted it was Kerslake’s drumming on the album.
In 1986, Kerslake and Osbourne bassist Bob Daisley had sued the singer for unpaid royalties from Blizzard Of Ozz.
Osbourne had later re-recorded the drum and bass parts on the album for a re-release in 2002 with his current bassist and drummer, who he later blamed on his wife Sharon Osbourne.
However, the original Kerslake and Daisley parts were restored for the 30th anniversary re-release of the album.
Latest Request: In 2018, Kerslake requested that Osbourne send him platinum records for his contributions after being given eight months to live. Osbourne sent them in January 2019; Kerslake (second from left) with Uriah Heep in 1973
In 2018, Kerslake requested that Osbourne send him platinum records for his contributions after announcing he had only eight months to live.
“I recently wrote to Sharon and Ozzy, a personal letter basically asking them to kindly send me platinum album certifications for Blizzard Of Ozz and Diary Of A Madman to hang on my wall before I die,” Kerslake recalled. The metal voice at that moment. ‘It’s on my bucket list. I hope they will agree and say yes. I went bankrupt when I lost the case to Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne in court.
‘It cost me hundreds of thousands, I had to sell the house and then got sick. … But a platinum certification on my wall for these albums would be fantastic. … It would say I helped make those albums. ‘
Osbourne admitted and sent him the platinum album last January.
Kerslake is survived by his wife Sue.