Category Archives: John Lawton

Rare Albums By GUNHILL feat. John Lawton “Nightheat / One Over The Eight” Now Re-Released and OUT NOW!

Gunhill med

For Immediate Release

Rare Albums By GUNHILL feat. John Lawton “Nightheat / One Over The Eight” Now Re-Released and OUT NOW!

London, UK – GUNHILL is a band from the 90’s which featured JOHN LAWTON, the former lead singer of URIAH HEEP. This twofer collects together the cassette / fan club ONLY release ONE OVER THE EIGHT and the long since out of print and VIRTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE to find second album NIGHTHEAT!

Both discs feature bonus tracks with the intention of making this set the COMPREHENSIVE collection of all the Gunhill studio recordings!

This re-release has been prepared with the full input of JOHN LAWTON personally and has had a 2016 remaster.

“These two CDs are part of my musical history when I played together with some fine musicians, some quite young and some a bit more experienced. It was an opportunity to cover some tracks that I look back on as really great songs and a few original tracks that have stood the test of time.” – John Lawton

Amazon 2 CD set:
One Over The Eight on iTunes:
Nightheat on iTunes:

Press inquiries: Glass Onyon PR, PH: 828-350-8158 (USA),

Blastzone Online Interview with John Lawton


Interview With Singer John Lawton Ex Front Man Of Lucifer’s Friend and Uriah Heep

Interview Done By Mike Wilkerson

MW: Please introduce yourself?

JL: Hi this is John Lawton ex front man of Uriah Heep and Lucifers Friend and various other projects….

MW: You got your start in Asterix in 1970. Why did you all decide to change the name to Lucifer’s Friend?

JL: Actually Asterix was a Lucifer’s Friend project recorded at the same time as the first Lucifers album, but with a different theme running through it and 2 vocalists…..

MW: Tell me about each of the following Lucifer’s Friend albums:

MW: Where The Groupies Killed The Blues…

JL: 2nd Lucifer’s Friend album, very progressive I thought. Several lyrics written by a guy called John O’Brian Docker buta very strong album, got into the Billboard chart which was very good for an unknown German band..

MW: Banquet

JL: My own personal favourite of all the Lucifer’s albums. Featured the brass section from the James Last Orch. Great songs only 6 of them, but great to record….A bit jazzy for some fans but it just showed how diverse we were….

MW: Mind Exploding

JL: Back to the rock roots and again a good album with some terrific musicianship from the band….

MW: Mean Machine

JL: After a time away from the band with Uriah Heep I rejoined the guys for this album which we recorded in England. Wasn’t the best work we have done, but still had some good songs on it and was unfortunately the last album with the original line up.

MW: Sumo Grip

JL: The last album that the original guitarist Peter Hesslein and I worked on. Again some great material but some say the album was overproduced and I tend to agree, but it was well received….

MW: During this time you were pretty busy because you would also sing for Uriah Heap from 1977 – 1979. How did this come about?

JL: After David Byron left Heep, they contacted some friends of mine who new my work from Lucifers Friend and my work with Deep Purple’s Roger Glover. I had sung for Roger on the iconic Butterfly Fly Ball concert at the Albert Hall in London. I received a call from Ken Hensley from Heep asking me to come to London for an audition. I got the job and the rest is history….

MW: Tell me about each of the following Uriah Heap albums:

MW: Firefly

JL: The tracks were already recorded when I joined, so it was a case of me learning the songs and putting my own style to them…Some great songs here including on of my favourites WISE MAN.

MW: Innocent Victim

JL: Back to a more rocky style for the band and a chance for me to write something. The single FREE ME became a big hit for Heep all around the world and took the album on to greater things….

MW: Why did you leave Uriah Heap after such a short time in the band?

JL: Many reasons really and too many to list here but basically musical differences. I think the guys had got the taste for commercial success after FREE ME and were consequently looking for the next hit. To my mind that is not what Uriah Heep were noted for. Songs like JULY MORNING, THE WIZARD, SUNRISE and songs of that ilk is what made the band different….

MW: You would go back to Uriah Heap in 2001 to do the live album The Musicians Birthday Party?

JL: Actually I went back to the band in 1995. The singer Bernie Shaw was having some problems with his voice so they asked me to do a tour of South Africa with them, which of course I did. The Magicians Birthday was a good gig with the original lineup including Ken Hensley….

MW: Do you think you will ever go and play with Uriah Heap or record with them again?

JL: I have learnt in this business to never say never J) who knows we have remained friends throughout the years and Mick Box and I collaborated on a Bulgarian Cinema Movie a year ago. Heep are very settled in their present formation and I can’t envisage my going back or them asking me, we both have our paths to follow.

MW: Tell me about each of the following bands:

MW: Rebel

JL: I was invited to go over to Germany to produce an album by the band. Unfortunately the singer they had couldn’t crack it in the studio, so they asked me to sing it. It turned out okay and opened the doors for future productions…

MW: Zar

JL: The same guitarist but different musicians in the “engine room” J) some really good songs on this album and we did do a couple of presentation gigs, but it was never going to be long term for me….

MW: Gunhill

JL: A band I put together with some friends to try and get back to what I started off doing all those years ago, ie playing songs that I liked and playing smaller clubs really just for fun…but we were very good I have to say J).

MW: the Hensley Lawton Band

JL: After so many years away from the music scene, Ken Hensley decided to make a come back. We put our differences to one side and played together at the Uriah Heep convention in 2000. The gig was recorded and we went out on the road together promoting the album and playing the good Heep stuff. It was never our intention to take it further than this and after 6 months we went out separate ways…

MW: the Lawton Dunning Project

JL: Myself and Steve Dunning from the John Lawton Band did a couple of acoustic gigs as a duo and it was so successful that we were asked to record an album which we did called STEPPIN IT UP. It was never going to be more than that and it was just a slight side step from the John Lawton Band.

MW: the John Lawton Band

JL: A terrific band with some great musicians and we recorded an album called STING IN THE TALE. We were together for about 2 years and did lots of gigs abroad aswell as England but the guitarist decided to go back to Canada and my buddy Steve Dunning developed some health problems, so we called it a day…pity but there you go.

MW: OTR – On The Rocks

JL: I met with ex Focus axeman Jan Dumee who played me some of his new material which sounded very exciting for me. He had written most of the music for guitar, so it was a challenge to convert the melodies for vocals. The musicians were from Brazil and the basic tracks were recorded in Sao Paulo. I did the vocals in a studio in Holland and we did plan to take the album out on the road. However the lack of promotion from the record company didn’t help, so we had to let it slip.

MW: How did Diana Express – The Power Of Mind come about?

JL: I have done a lot of work in Bulgaria over the past few years and one of my musician friends introduced me to a guy called Milen Vrabevski who is actually a doctor. Milen had written and produced an album with some Bulgarian musicians called DIANA EXPRESS who had been a very successful band back in the 70’s. Milen asked me to have a listen to this album with the idea that I would sing it in English…. I liked the album a lot, the songs were very well played and produced, so after looking at the English lyrics and thank god they were not a Google translation, I decided to do it. It’s a great album and just goes to show that there are some excellent musicians on the other side of the world J)

MW: What do you have planned for 2013?

JL: We have some new material to sort out for the next album, but right now the plan is to get out there and present POWER OF MIND live….

MW: What would you like to say in closing?

JL: Happy New Year to all the readers…and take care


Russell Trunk’s Exclusive Magazine Interview with John Lawton

the power of mind

John Lawton
‘Now I Know – The John Lawton Story’

The music industry is buzzing about the new concept album by former legendary Uriah Heep / Lucifer’s Friend vocalist John Lawton titled The Power of Mind.

An innovative new CD, conceived, written and produced by the CGI member, Dr. Milen Vrabevski, but performed by John Lawton and Bulgarian ensemble Diana Express, The Power of Mind is an exploration into the science of positive thinking and its applications to the subconscious mind. Featuring 14 amazing songs that showcase the soulful vocals of John Lawton and the powerful instrumentals by Diana Express will leave you wanting to hear it again and again.

“The Power of Mind is a concept album with positive thinking being the theme,” John explains. “In the world of today, I don’t think there are many better things to focus on. The way the songs flow into each other is really the way one would read a book or relate stories to friends. The melodies and lyrics say a lot about how we should view each other.”

Chatting further with the man himself, and taking it right from the top, he began his music career in North Shields (England) in the early ’60s with The Deans. So, was it true that they were all just a bunch of kids who simply decided at random to name him as the lead singer?! “Yeah it worked out that way. We were 15 years old at that time and of course music was what everybody wanted to do. One of the guys could play guitar a bit, one of the others decided he was the bassman, another took drum lessons, which left me. And so it was decided I was the singer! I spent the early rehearsals with my back to them staring at the wall because it felt so wrong at that moment. Great days though, in many many ways :-)”

You then moved on to West One and later Stonewall, which also included John Miles, Vic Malcolm (Geordie) and Paul Thompson (Roxy Music)! Wow, now that must have been a brilliant band to be part of at the time?! “It was decided that we would put a band together from the best of the local guys and I got the singing spot 🙂 Vic had written some songs so we went out and played in Hamburg (no recordings unfortunately) and by the time we were about to return to England, the band was really tight. However my future seemed to lie in Germany and so I stayed. The rest of the guys returned home went their separate ways and the rest is history :-)”

Things got more commercial for you when you became the lead singer for legendary German rock cult band Lucifer’s Friend. You ended up, through two stints, recording nine studio albums with them, so that must have left an incredible impression on you. Can you, perhaps, pull a true highlight from your time in the band to reveal to us today? “Lucifers Friend was such a great band, as musicians they were first class, always looking for a new way forward musically. It has been said a lot we were ahead of our time in many ways. The 1st album (Lucifers Friend) set out to be heavy rock but after that we went a little more prog. With the 2nd album (Where The Groupies Killed The Blues) and from there we went slightly poppy until my favourite album came along which was Banquet, an absolute stunner of an album in my opinion 🙂 I have worked with some great musicians in my time and the Lucifers guys are up there with the best of them.”

After a shot at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1976 re: the Les Humphries Singers, you joined Uriah Heep for three years and three studio albums. Again, please reveal a true highlight from your time in the band; something that left you with a great memory? “Joining Heep was momentous for me, coming from the Humphries Singer to one of the best rock bands around – well, what can I say 🙂 In that time I got to see places especially in the USA that I had heard of as a singer starting out. The tours were long compared to what I had done previously, but we toured with some great bands KISS, FOREIGNER, CHEAP TRICK, and played some incredible venues. I think a highlight has to be playing Kansas City stadium to 20/30 thousand people and seeing them flick the cigarette lighters on for the song ‘July Morning.’ Truly memorable.”

Since then you have worked with some of the finest record producers and some incredible musicians through the years – and today have just released your latest album; a concept album entitled The Power of Mind. But, this innovative new album was actually conceived, written and produced by the CGI member, Dr. Milen Vrabevski, but performed by you AND a Bulgarian ensemble, Diana Express! So, first things first, how did you first meet Dr. Vrabevski? “I was introduced via a musician friend in Bulgaria to Milen who gave me a copy of a CD sung in Bulgarian of some really good songs. I really liked the melodies and the way it had been recorded all live no computerised stuff :-)”

“Milen asked me if I was interested in singing the songs in English, so after looking at the translated lyrics (not Google translate, thank god) 🙂 I really wanted to do this album.”

And how long ago did Dr. V. suggest the idea to create a “concept album” to you? (ie: how long did it take to complete the album, from start to finish?) “From our first discussion about the project until actual completion was about 6 months. I had other commitments that had to be fulfilled before I could start, but basically everything was there. The tracks remained as they were from a playing point of view, all I had to do was re-sing all the lead lines. But, of course all the backing vocals had to be re-done as they were all in Bulgarian also! I had everything recorded in the space of 10 days, but it was fun to do.”

With the concept songs showcasing 14 amazing songs that explore the science of positive thinking and its applications to the subconscious mind, did you yourself find that during its recording you were suddenly feeling, well, more positive and free within the confines of your own mind, perhaps? “I understood where Milen was coming from and we had a good time in the studio while putting down the vocals. At the time it felt like I was reading a book to somebody and every song seemed like the next chapter of the story. I was suffering from a bout of flu at the time of recording so I guess positive thinking played a part in getting it all done :-)”

Indeed, with regard this new album, how easy or hard is it to create a new, vibrant, wanted-by-the-public sound that both builds on and surpasses the musical wonderments and accomplishments that preceded it within the industry? “Wooahh !!! That’s a loaded question! I hope that we have created something that will last, and not be seen as a “one off”. Whether it surpasses any musical accomplishments of other artists, remains to be seen. I truly hope that POWER OF MIND opens doors to a second album already in the writing stage, and gives us a chance to fulfil the promise.”

Do you have a favorite track from ‘The Power of Mind,’ perhaps? And if so, which one and why? “I have 2 favourite tracks, TWO HEARTS and THE SEARCH. I just love the melodies especially on HEARTS, but the transitions on THE SEARCH from the intro to the powerful ending, absolutely awesome. Even if I say so myself :-)”

If you had to sum yourself up in just five (5) words today, after all you have been through, encountered and succeeded in/at, what would those five (5) words be? “Actually it would be 7, if that’s allowed? It would be, Still Paying My Dues to the Blues”

If asked to record one for charity, what ’80s (and possibly cheesy!) pop/rock song would you love to cover today … and why? “I honestly don’t like much from the 80’s. It might be an ABBA song 🙂 But if any, it would have to be ‘You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling’ by The Righteous Brothers. I just love the vocals on that song especially Bobby Hatfield. A really good singer, sadly no longer with us :-(”

Lastly, and throwing you a journalistic curve ball, Exclusive Magazine loves Penguins (the birds) … do you?! “Love em !!! And their dancing feet :-)”

Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk


The Rocktologist Interview with John Lawton

John Lawton: “I think my time in Lucifer’s Friend was the most rewarding from a musical point of view.”
by Daniel Pavlica

John Lawton was the singer with Lucifer’s Friend, Les Humphries Singers and of course the legendary Uriah Heep, which he propelled through more blues oriented mainstream rock with 1977’s “Firefly” album. Years following the Heep adventure were spent building a vibrant CV that included the release of a solo album in 1980, stints with Rebel, Zar and old compatriot Ken Hensley. Fast forward to 2012, he is excited about the release of “Power of Mind”, a concept album he made with Bulgarian hard rock act Diana Express.

You teamed up with Milen Vrabevski and Bulgarian band Diana Express. Can you tell us more about how this came up?

John: I have been going to Bulgaria for the last few years, filming travel documentaries for Bulgarian TV. And doing concerts. A musician friend of mine put me in touch with Milen who had recorded and produced the album POWER OF MIND with the Bulgarian band Diana Express in that language….Milen asked me to sing the album in English. I had a look at the English translation of the lyrics….and yeah I loved it. The next thing I know, I’m in the studio recording it.

What’s behind the idea of “The Power of Mind”?

John: This is a kind of concept album, in that the songs interlink with each other in melody and lyrics. I found it was like reading a book to a friend while I was recording it. Of course everybody hears a song differently, but I think every listener will connect to this album….

Does the album hold any surprises for John Lawton fans?

John: I guess it will! People who know me will expect rock, but I have always tried to do something different with every album I do, but I’m sure the fans will love this album because of the songs….

Are there any plans for bringing this project on the road?

John: We have played some gigs featuring songs from Power Of Mind and they went down really well. The plan is to take to the road after Christmas and bring the album to the fans…..

Another of your southeast musical experiences involved Slovenian hard rock act Mary Rose. It seems that you enjoy spending your time in the Balkans. Is the lure of coffee and ratluk so strong?

John: (laughs) I really enjoyed my time in Slovenia and singing with Mary Rose was great, they are a terrific band and I love them they are great guys. I do hope to go back there again….

Where there any plans to record an album with Mary Rose?

John: We never talked about it, but it would have been nice to record something with them….

You’ve played with a number of bands, Uriah Heep and Lucifer’s Friend being just two of the lot. Where does Diana Express rank as a band?

John: Hey, they are great musicians in their own right as were Lucifers Friend and Heep…some people seem to think musicians are only good if they come from the USA or Great Britain or any country west of Berlin (laughs)….well that’s not the case, there are some really good rock musicians from the Balkan countries and I have worked with many of them….

What is the main driving force behind making music at 65?

John: Thanks for reminding me (laughs)….I still get an adrenalin rush stepping on stage and I still love what I do..As long as the fans still want to see and hear my music, then I shall still continue…

Do you still get excited about releasing a record?

John: Yes I do….I suppose I’m like every singer or guitarist or drummer etc. to hear the final product after spending time putting ideas together and coming out with something you love is a great feeling…It never ceases to amaze me…

This one is a little on the odd side. What’s the biggest misconception people have about John Lawton?

John: (laughs)…this is so hard to answer….probably fans think I’m a 24/7 musician…well that’s not the case. I like to cook, long walks, meeting people who are not in the music business, I think I am a family man at heart….maybe this is the misconception…I don’t know… you tell me (laughs).

Looking back at the time when you joined Uriah Heep, and the release of “Firefly”. How did you deal with that level of success? Was that extra pressure for you?

John: I guess looking back it was. It was of course difficult to follow in the footsteps of David Byron but I tried to sing the songs on Firefly my way. The change of image was one way of getting away from what the fans were expecting, eye make up and leather but it some ways it worked and I think the Heep fans came to accept me, but it took a while…

With your voice carrying a more straight forward, bluesy edge, did you find it hard connecting with the long standing fans?

John: Maybe at the time it was and I did try on occasions to keep it straight, but I had to be true to myself and in the end the other guys in Heep encouraged me to sing the material my way…

How do you view the Lawton era Heep now?

John: Hey, with great affection, we had some great times and we had some hard times, but in the end its the music that counts. Although its been a long time since I was full time in Heep but we have kept contact down the years and we are still friends today. I have stood in with Heep on their tour of South Africa in 1995 when Bernie had some throat problem and done a couple of Magicians Birthday gigs with them….so once you join Uriah Heep, you never really leave.

Which part of your career would you call attention to for being the most prolific? For instance, when speaking to Micky Moody, he marked his time in Whitesnake as a hindrance from the artistic point of view.

John: I think my time in Lucifers Friend was the most rewarding from a musical point of view. It was a very progressive time in terms of studio work and bringing the ideas to the record company, who at that time were very willing to let us experiment. I Think you will find that most musicians from that time will tell you the same…artistic freedom is what they used to call it.

What’s a typical day for you nowadays?

John: Depends where I am, and most times I’m on the road on way or another…I present and direct travel films for a Bulgarian TV company and that takes a lot of my time, not only the filming side of it, but the “after filming” part. Narration, English text correction etc…but its fun and I love it. I have met so many interesting people. Then there are the gigs, so my time is pretty much taken up…but I wouldn’t have it any other way….

John Lawton, thank you very much for your time.

John: It’s a pleasure, I hope you and your readers will find it interesting to read and look out for THE POWER OF MIND CD….you won’t regret it and I do hope to get back to Slovenia one day, it’s a great country……

“The Power of Mind” is out now on Cherry Red Records.


Former Uriah Heep / Lucifer’s Friend Legend John Lawton To Release New Concept Album – The Power of Mind!

For Immediate Release

Former Uriah Heep / Lucifer’s Friend Legend John Lawton To Release New Concept Album – The Power of Mind!

October 30, 2012 – London, UK – The music industry is buzzing about the new concept album by former legendary Uriah Heep / Lucifer’s Friend vocalist John Lawton titled ‘The Power of Mind’. An innovative new CD, conceived, written and produced by the CGI member, Dr. Milen Vrabevski, but performed by John Lawton and Bulgarian ensemble Diana Express, ‘The Power of Mind’ is an exploration into the science of positive thinking and its applications to the subconscious mind. Featuring 14 amazing songs that showcase the soulful vocals of John Lawton and the powerful instrumentals by Diana Express will leave you wanting to hear it again and again…

“ ‘The Power of Mind’ is a concept album with positive thinking being the theme,” John explains. “In the world of today, I don’t think there are many better things to focus on. The way the songs flow into each other is really the way one would read a book or relate stories to friends. The melodies and lyrics say a lot about how we should view each other.”

John Lawton began his musical career in North Shields, UK, in the early ’60s with The Deans, a bunch of kids who decided at random that John should be singer. He then moved on to West One and later to Stonewall, which included John Miles, Vic Malcolm (later of Geordie) and Paul Thompson (later of Roxy Music). After Stonewall finished a stint at the Top Ten Club in Hamburg in 1969, John decided to stay in Germany. He is offered the job as singer with legendary German cult rock band Lucifer’s Friend (1969-1976, 1979-1995) and subsequently recorded 9 studio albums during his time with the band. In the early ’70s John also joined the Les Humphries Singers, with whom he recorded more than 20 albums and took part at 1976’s Eurovision Song Contest.

In 1976 John joined Uriah Heep as their front man, and recorded the classic albums ‘Innocent Victim’, ‘Firefly’, ‘Fallen Angel’ and ‘Live ’79’, and toured Europe and the USA until September 1979. During his longstanding career John has worked with some big names of rock, on various projects, including Roger Glover’s ‘Butterfly Ball’ and Eddie Hardin’s ‘Wizard’s Convention II’. In late 1980 he joined German rock band Rebel on three albums, including their hit singles “Line of Fire” and “Eagles Flight”. He would record one more album with the group, now known as ZAR in the early ’90s. John ventured into the world of classical music when he recorded vocals for Volker Barber’s ‘Excalibur’. In January 1994 he formed GunHill, later known as JLB – John Lawton Band. The band recorded two albums (studio/live) and toured the UK and Europe. In August 2000 John recorded his first solo album, the critically acclaimed ‘Still Paying My Dues To The Blues’.

In December 2008 John entered the world of television by presenting the Bulgarian travel documentary series “John Lawton Presents”. Which leads to the teaming of John and Bulgaria’s Diana Express in November 2011 to record ‘The Power of Mind’ in Plevin, Bulgaria. John comments, “The involvement came via a musician friend of mine from Sofia, Bulgaria, who knows the writer and producer of the album, Milen Vrabevski. I met with Milen briefly in Sofia after an exchange of e-mails and he gave me a copy of the original ‘The Power of Mind’ CD, which had been sung in Bulgarian. I must say I liked it very much, it was very well sung, played and produced. Milen then asked me if I would consider singing the whole album again in English and after looking through the English lyrics I agreed. It was a real joy to record in the studio in Pleven, owned by the guitarist of the band, Maxim Goranov. It took me about a week and a half to complete the solo and backing vocals.”

John Lawton has built a reputation on his powerful vocals and charismatic personality and is regarded as one of the best singers around today! And now with his new CD ‘The Power of Mind’, John has reached an artistic peak. In conclusion John has this to impart to his longtime listeners, “People who know me and my background will expect something new and with ‘The Power of Mind’ they have exactly that. The album is a collection of excellent songs very well played and produced and one which I am very proud of…so make sure you give it a good listen. Think positive and trust in the Power of Mind.”

Available soon on iTunes, “Fairy Tale”, the first single from ‘The Power of Mind’.

Title: John Lawton and Diana Express – ‘The Power of Mind’
Label: Intelligent Music
Release Date: 12th November 2012

‘The Power of Mind’ website:

Visit the official John Lawton website at

Press inquiries: Billy James/Glass Onyon PR, PH: 828-350-8158,