Lee Kerslake, the drummer on two of Ozzy Osborne’s most critically hailed albums and later for hard rock band Uriah Heep, has died. He passed away on Saturday after a long battle with prostate cancer, according to a friend.
Uriah Heep bandmate Ken Hensley made the announcement. “It’s with the heaviest of hearts that I share with you that Lee Kerslake, my friend of 55 years and the best drummer I ever played with, lost his battle with cancer at 03:30 this morning. He died peacefully, praise The Lord, but he will be terribly missed.”
Kerslake played with Osbourne in 1980 and ’81, appearing on his first two solo albums, Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman. He also appeared on the 1987 Tribute live album.
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But his recognition for the two Osbourne albums came at a price. Kerslake’s contributions on Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman were later removed and rerecorded when the albums were reissued decades later. The removal came after a lengthy court battle over royalties and songwriting credits. Drummer Tommy Aldridge was credited as the drummer on Madman after Kerslake’s exit before the album’s release.
But years later, those differences were resolved.
“I’ve written to Sharon and Ozzy recently, 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. It’s on my bucket list. I hope they will come to terms with it and say yes. I went belly-up bankrupt when I lost the case to Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne in the courts,” Kerslake said (via Ultimate Classic Rock). “It costs me hundreds of thousands and I had to sell the house, and then started to get ill. … But a platinum certification on my wall for these albums would be fantastic. … It would say I helped create those albums.”
Kerslake revealed two years ago that his prostate cancer had spread and was terminal. One of his final requests was to receive platinum albums for his work on the two Osbourne albums. The singer granted his wish.
Kerslake is survived by his wife, Sue. No memorial plans have been revealed.