John Lawton, Vocalist for Uriah Heep and Lucifer’s Friend, Dead at 74

Sad news for the rock and metal communities today, as John Lawton, former vocalist for English hard rockers Uriah Heep and frontman for formative heavy metal band Lucifer’s Friend, has died. He was 74 years old.

Lawton’s death was confirmed by both Lucifer’s Friend and Uriah Heep, who posted the same matching announcement to their respective Facebook pages: “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.

“Contrary to reports, there was no illness involved, which makes his passing incomprehensible. He went peacefully with his wife at his side.

“John will be greatly missed. A private funeral service to celebrate John’s life will be held following his wishes, with only family and close friends attending. We would appreciate that the family’s privacy is respected during this difficult time.”

Born in Halifax. England, Lawton first made his name in the rock world with German proto-metal band Lucifer’s Friend. Though a cult rock act at the time, the project has since been considered one of the more influential early heavy metal bands, having a significant impact on the doom metal scene. Lawton recorded eight studio albums with the band on their initial run, with 1981’s Mean Machine branching out into speed metal territory. He then later recorded two more recent records with the band, 2016’s Too Late to Hate and 2019’s Black Moon.

In ’76, Lawton joined Uriah Heep, and went on to record three studio full-lengths with the then-massive band, as well as three live albums. Though he left the band in September of 1979, Lawton remained close with the band members, and filled in on live vocals multiple times throughout the rest of the band’s career.

Everyone at The Pit sends their heart out to Lawton’s friends, family, fans and collaborators during this difficult time.

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Words by Chris Krovatin