Uriah Heep's Mick Box: 10 Records That Changed My Life

Mick Box
(Image credit: Kevin Nixon)

"I’m the only musical person in the entire family," Mick Box told Classic Rock in 2017. "But my mother was very supportive. She’d be the one standing over the record player, dropping the needle so I could learn a bit of guitar. The rest of my family were always saying to her: 'When is he going to get a proper job?'

"But when we played the Albert Hall those family comments stopped, because to them that was the pinnacle."

These are the 10 records that got Mick Box to the Albert Hal and well beyond, with 40 million album sales under their collective belts, and a 25th album, Living The Dream, out now.  

Les Paul & Mary Ford - Nola

"Les Paul was not only a genius in making the Gibson Les Paul Black Beauty guitars, he was also a forerunner of all the electronic studio stuff too. I tried to play this song on guitar and found it very difficult – don't forget, in those days you drop the needle on the record – but I was determined to do it, and in the end I did. 

It was only years later that I found out that Les Paul played the part at half speed and then sped it up. I had no idea, but that's what gives it its unique sound. This record kept me occupied for hours and hours until I got it, and it helped my technique because I was playing it much faster than I needed to. It's a great way to learn!  And the funny thing is, when I listen back to it now it doesn't sound fast at all."

Django Reinhardt & Stephane Grappelli - Sweet Georgia Brown

"My first guitar teacher Allan Hodgkins, who used to play second guitar for Django, and all his teachings were jazz-based. So I learned this song, and I thought I really had it down. And then you put on this version, and you realise you're nowhere

The magic between Reinhardt and Grappelli was incredible, just unbelievable, the way they read at each other and fed off each other. Reinhardt was a big influence on me, and if you know the story about his fingers being cut off [two of the fingers of Django's fretting hand were paralysed after being badly burned in a fire, so he had completely change his technique] and your admiration goes to a whole new level. You think, 'how the hell did you do that?' Amazing."

Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin, Paco de Lucía - Mediterranean Sundance 

"It's from the Friday night In San Francisco album. When I first heard it I thought they'd taken guitar to another level – the three of them were trading licks that I couldn't even think of! I thought they were on another planet it. It probably has the same impact for a lot of a guitarists that Eddie Van Halen did when he came along."

Buddy Holly - True Loves Ways

"I love all of Buddy's work, but True Love Ways really hit me because it was orchestrated, and the orchestration is unbelievable. It really got to me, and it's a great song as well. It's unbelievable, and it just shows the talent of Buddy's writing: from something like Peggy Sue to That'll Be The Day to True Love Ways, it just hit home. Wonderful song. I can put it on today and still get the same buzz. He would have developed into something amazing. So much talent. They were great songs then, and they're great songs now. He was just ahead of the game."

Eddie Cochran - C'mon Everybody

"To me, Eddie was a harder-edged Buddy Holly. He wrote simpler songs, but they had more guts. He was a very talented guy – he would go into the studio and tell everyone what's play. I could have chosen Three Steps To Heaven, which is not only a great lyric but it's really great song, but the energy of C'mon Everybody hooked me in."

Johnny Kidd & The Pirates - Shakin' All Over

"It's one of the songs that got me into guitar in the first place. I saw them in a venue in London, and they had a guitarist called Micky Green playing the Telecaster, who used to call London his manor. And it was, to a degree, because he was the hotshot guitarist of the time. The riff on Shakin' All Over just got me. I went, "Woah, I love that!', and I couldn't wait to get a guitar and try and learn it. It's wonderful stuff, and seeing it live just got to me.

Them - Baby Please Don't Go

"I saw them Walthamstow Assembly Hall in London - I'm an East London boy – with Van Morrison, and the riff just got me. That riff and Shakin' All Over are the two riffs that got me into a rock. Up until that point I was just noodling around doing jazzy things.

The Kinks - You Really Got Me

"I saw them playing in a cinema in Walthamstow on a package. I had no idea what to expect – I don't even think I'd heard the song and that point – but it was one of those deals where the bands went on and just did three songs each, and The Kinks just blew my mind. They had the whole thing with the Cuban heel shoes and the tight pants. They were so exciting, and the fact that they were from London gave me inspiration."

Small Faces - What'cha Gonna Do About It

"I'd taken a job for a year to pay off the hire purchase on my guitar so I could come become a professional musician. I used to cycle ten miles to my job and ten miles back, and when I paid the last instalment off I handed in my notice.  

"There used to be a TV programme called Ready Steady Go, and on Friday night I'd cycle faster to try and catch the show before the van came around to pick me up to and take me to a gig. I saw the Small Faces on there with Steve Marriotts big voice and big white Gretsch Falcon guitar, and I thought it was great. It really got to me. Shortly after that, my singer David Byron and I went up to Carnaby Street to buy exactly the same clothes. It was a very happening time."

The Move - Blackberry Way

"I love the progressions. I love the song itself. I think Roy Wood is a genius, and I wonder why he's disappeared into the ether. But this particular song hits home every time I hear it. If I was a party, I'd put it on. It's a well crafted song."

Living The Dream by Uriah Heep is out now

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.