Ken Hensley Dies: Uriah Heep Keyboardist And Songwriter Was 75

British musician Ken Hensley (right) with a fan during an autograph session in Moscow. AP

Ken Hensley, who was a key part of hard rock band Uriah Heep during its 1960s and 1970s heyday, died Wednesday evening. He was 75 and died at home, according to his management.

Keyboardist Hensley wrote several of the London rock band’s early tracks, including “Easy Livin’,” “Stealin'” and “Lady in Black.”

Former bandmate, and original Uriah Heep member Mick Box said in an online post, “I am in deep shock at the news Ken Hensley has passed away, and my sincere condolences go to his family and wife Monica. Ken wrote some amazing songs in his tenure with the band, and they will remain a musical legacy that will be in people’s hearts forever. RIP Ken.”

Hensley was one of the great rock keyboardists in progressive rock’s moment in music. The band was an arena-level headliner and sold millions of records, highlighted by 1975’s Return to Fantasy, which hit No. 7 on the UK charts.

Hensley left the band at the end of the 1970s, allegedly disillusioned about its musical direction. He continued his career with the bands Blackfoot and artist John Lawton, then formed his own band, Ken Hensley & Live Fire.

The split from Uriah Heep wasn’t the end of his association with is bandmates. He did reunite with them at times,¬†often at the Uriah Heep Annual Convention.

In a statement Hensley’s management described him as “one of the most important musicians of the past half-a-century”, and “a very spiritual person”.

His brother, Trevor, posted on Facebook that the family were “devastated by this tragic and incredibly unexpected loss” and asked for “space and time to come to terms with it”.

Hensley will be cremated in a private ceremony in Spain, according to his brother. His new solo album will be released in February.

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