The bad news: Uriah Heep's current singer is dropping out of some upcoming tour dates because of health issues. The good news: One of the band's former singers is filling in for him while he recovers.
You wouldn't be alone in thinking that Uriah Heep have gone the way of dinosaurs. But fact is, the British metal pioneers are still around and still very much active, touring and recording. Their most recent album, 'Into the Wild,' has even been praised as one of the band's best of its long career.
But their collective vitality hasn't spared the aging group members — most of whom are well into their 60s — from their fair share of medical issues.
Earlier this year, bassist Trevor Bolder responded to rumors that his break from the band wasn't related to a heart attack but to pancreatic cancer. Now singer Bernie Shaw is being sidelined from Uriah Heep's upcoming May tour dates as he recuperates from an undisclosed routine medical procedure.
"To all the lifelong fans and followers of Uriah Heep, I'm afraid I'm being forced to step back from position of lead singer of one of the best damn rock 'n' roll bands on the live circuit today, albeit for just a couple of weeks rehabilitation, due to medical reasons," Shaw wrote on the band's official website.
"In order to fulfill contractual obligations, we came up with the idea of contacting John Lawton to ask if he would do the legacy proud, so to speak, and do the shows that I won't be able to do. He's got the history, and by God, he still has the voice! John and I will be sharing the same stage and singing together in San Javier, Spain, later on this summer. 'Till then, I feel I'm leaving you in very capable hands and a rare chance to see John singing songs from his era in this present lineup. I am most indebted to John and salute his passion."
The tour — which will visit the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland — will be tweaked to focus on Lawton's years with the band, 1976 through 1979, giving fans an unexpected trip down memory lane.