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Why I ❤️ Uriah Heep, by A-ha's Morten Harket

Uriah Heep band photograph
(Image credit: Press)

My first musical experience that blew my mind – blew everything – was seeing a local brass band performing on Norway’s National Day. The conductor let me sit on his shoulders and the excitement went through me like lightning. I was three. I took to music immediately and I started playing piano at four – my father was a classically trained pianist turned doctor – and was making little music pieces by myself.

Next I played trombone in a local band. But the enthusiasm died immediately when my parents got me a music tutor. I wanted to discover music for myself and not out of duty. The whole terrain of disappointment in the loss of enthusiasm for music kept a tight rein on me for years. 

Then, when I was 13, my cousin came back from a school trip to London with Wonderworld by Uriah Heep. That completely blew me away. I hadn’t heard any heavy rock at all, just Johnny Cash and Simon And Garfunkel, which I liked, but I was yet to ‘wake up’.

Morten Harket, aged 10, in local bass band

Morten Harket, aged 10, in local bass band (Image credit: Supplied)

Wonderworld resonated so powerfully with me, it was like coming home. Heep became the most important thing in my life and I did everything to make the pocket money to get their records. I saw them in Oslo in ’75 and ’76. Things were changing with them and when Gary Thain passed away something died within Heep. He mattered on a level beyond being a bass player.

Then I don’t know what happened mentally to David Byron, maybe a typical lack of confidence? It affected everything else. I’m sure if I talked to Ken Hensley about this he’d be nodding to some of it. Heep also led me to the shock discovery that there were other bands to be reckoned with – Deep Purple for instance. When I heard a snatch of Child In Time on the radio, I immediately thought it was Heep and scouted for days trying to find it in their catalogue. I didn’t realise or know that other bands had that sound too!

Heep meant everything to me in those years – on records like Magician’s Birthday, Demons And Wizards and, of course, Wonderworld, their songwriting was so very good – and I still feel the same way. Through listening to Heep, I had this massive revelation that I wanted to do what they did and I believed I would go all the way. I was 15 and so excited–it was a calling! I knew what I was going to be doing for the rest of my life. I didn’t know how, or with whom, but I didn’t doubt for a minute that it was gonna happen.

Morten Harket was speaking with Jo Kendall.

Jo is a journalist, podcaster, event host and music industry lecturer with 23 years in music magazines since joining Kerrang! as office manager in 1999. But before that Jo had 10 years as a London-based gig promoter and DJ, also working in various vintage record shops and for the UK arm of the Sub Pop label as a warehouse and press assistant. Jo's had tea with Robert Fripp, touched Ian Anderson's favourite flute (!), asked Suzi Quatro what one wears under a leather catsuit, and invented several ridiculous editorial ideas such as the regular celebrity cooking column for Prog, Supper's Ready. After being Deputy Editor for Prog for five years and Managing Editor of Classic Rock for three, Jo is now Associate Editor of Prog, where she's been since its inception in 2009, and a regular contributor to Classic Rock. She continues to spread the experimental and psychedelic music-based word amid unsuspecting students at BIMM Institute London, hoping to inspire the next gen of rock, metal, prog and indie creators and appreciators.