They say that reputation counts. And it does. It colour people’s perceptions,
for sure. Sometimes though it gets in the way of what’s important, what’s more
interesting. Having a reputation as, ‘The Nicest Guy In Rock’, can distract
attention from not only what Mick Box has achieved with Uriah Heep, but also his
status as one of rock’s finest guitarists, songwriters and performers. For
throughout his ‘Appy Days with the band, whilst he may not shout it himself from
the roof tops, he has been the driving force that has kept the band that he
founded as powerful, active and relevant as they still are.
Whilst Mick has always been a Londoner, born there in ’47 and still living in North London with his family, Heep have travelled the world many times over, with many ‘firsts’ along the way. The fact that Mick and the band were the first western rock act to play behind the ‘Iron Curtain’ presaged years of love for Heep in Eastern Europe that continues to this day.
Perhaps fortuitous in growing up in the period where rock music itself was developing into the multi-layered beast that it became, Mick’s early years were sound-tracked by the greats, Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochrane, Chuck Berry, and many more. It wasn’t long before he picked up his first guitar at the age of 14 years old, that his mother bought him from a Pawn Shop at the top of Walthamstow High Street Market. He’s now a collector of guitars, owning around 40, some of which are stored across the world so that he’s never far away from one of them. He has also launched his own Carparelli S4 signature model and has played Carparelli S4’s for many years now. Owner of the company, Mike Carparelli from Canada, has become both his guitar supplier and long-time friend.
One of Mick’s first bands were called The Stalkers, and they were just an amateur band before changing their name to Spice when they became professional. He chose that name because he did not want his music to be from just one genre and to cover many of them, as indeed there are many spices. Emerging from Spice in 1969, they became Uriah Heep.
From day one, Mick was at the heart of everything and there he remained. Mick has always been a musician and songwriter full of ambition, sophistication and wit. Marry that to memorable tunes and of course, the vocals - the five part harmonies were a clear influence on the operatics of Queen - and he and the band were away. Enjoying enormous success in the 70s and rightly taking their place at the top table of rock alongside the rest of the Big Four (Zeppelin, Sabbath and Purple). Mick’s vision was undimmed, and while enjoying the heady success that washed over them, they were unaware that they, along with the other bands in the Big Four, were writing the book on Classic Rock, which has stood the test of time.
Whilst the band sold over 40 million records and were in their heyday one of the biggest bands in the world, it was in the live arena that Mick excelled, and that was where the future of the Uriah Heep lay.
Mick has seen many band members pass through the ranks of Heep, but he remains the ever present core of the band. The heart and soul if you will. He even spent many years Managing and Tour Managing the band while still performing and writing at the highest level. Whilst the latest album may be entitled ‘Outsider’, Mick himself is the ultimate Insider. He has seen the world from the lighted stage, and from the misted window of the Heep tour bus that just keeps on rolling from one rapturously-received show to another. Mick has made a life out of creating stunning rock music, and delivering it to the fans in person, gig after gig. He may be a man of the people but it’s as a musician, songwriter, artist and live performer that he should be known. Now that’s a reputation worth having…