Uriah Heep, singer David Byron also performed as a solo artist. Born David Garrick in Essex, England, on January 29, 1947, he first emerged as a member of the short-lived Stalkers. With the group's guitarist Mick Box, he later formed Spice, which also featured bassist Paul Newton and drummer Alex Napier. Renamed Uriah Heep in 1970 after a character in the Charles Dickens novel David Copperfield, they debuted with the LP Very 'eavy, Very 'umble; while the group's fusion of art-rock and heavy metal was widely scorned by critics, they soon rose to stardom on both sides of the Atlantic, with much of the attention focused on Byron's operatic vocals. In 1975, he issued his first solo effort, Take No Prisoners; a year later, after ten albums with Uriah Heep, Byron's longtime drinking problem led to his dismissal from the band, and he formed Rough Diamond with former Humble Pie guitarist Clem Clempson and ex-Wings drummer Geoff Britton. The group issued only a self-titled 1977 LP before disbanding, leaving Byron to again pursue a solo career. His second effort, Baby Faced Killer, was not successful, and he next formed the Byron Band with guitarist Robin George. 1981's On the Rocks was their sole album, and as Byron's alcoholism worsened, his career dried up; he was found dead in his Reading home on February 28, 1985.
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