John Lawton Dies: Former Uriah Heep Vocalist Was 74

John Lawton Instagram

John Lawton, the vocalist for the long-running Uriah Heep during one of the British rock band’s most popular eras, died June 29 of undisclosed causes.

His death was announced last night by the band.

“It is with deep regret that we share the devastating and tragic news of the sudden and totally unexpected passing of John Lawton on 29 June 2021,” the band wrote on its official Twitter page. “John will be greatly missed.”

Named after a character from the Charles Dickens novel David Copperfield, the London band Uriah Heep, formed in 1969, had already found success with vocalist David Byron (including the 1972 hit “Easy Livin'” and 1973’s “Stealin'”) when Lawton replaced the original singer in 1976. During his three-year tenure with the band, Lawton and Uriah Heep recorded three studio albums: 1976’s Firefly, 1977’s Innocent Victim and 1978’s Fallen Angel. The 1979 concert album Live in Europe ’79 also featured Lawton.

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While Heep’s popularity in the United States arguably peaked prior to Lawton’s arrival, the band enjoyed significant success globally both during and after his stint. Most notably, Lawton sang lead on 1977’s “Free Me,” a hit in Germany, Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland.

Prior to his work with Uriah Heep, Lawton sang with German rock band Lucifer’s Friend as well as the German pop group the Les Humphries Singers. Post-Heep, he performed with the groups Rebel, GunHill and with producer/songwriter Ken Hensley in the Hensley Lawton Band.

Lawton is survived by his wife, although additional survivor information was not immediately available. A private funeral service will be held according to his wishes.

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