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Gary Thain

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Gary Thain
Background information
Birth nameGary Mervin Thain
Born(1948-05-15)15 May 1948
Christchurch, New Zealand
Died8 December 1975(1975-12-08) (aged 27)
Norwood Green, London, England
  • Musician
  • songwriter
Years active1963–1975
Formerly of

Gary Mervin Thain (May 15, 1948 – December 8, 1975) was a New Zealand bassist, best known for his work with British rock band Uriah Heep.


Uriah Heep in 1972
L–R: Ken Hensley, Mick Box, Gary Thain, David Byron and Lee Kerslake

Thain was born in Christchurch. He had two older brothers, Colin and Arthur. He recorded in Christchurch with The Strangers (not to be confused with the Australian band of the same name).[1] At 17, he moved to Australia and joined The Secrets, which dissolved in 1966.[2] Later, Thain was part of the rock trio The New Nadir. With drummer Peter Dawkins, he traveled from New Zealand to London, and once jammed with Jimi Hendrix before the trio split in 1969.

Thain joined the Keef Hartley Band, performing at Woodstock in 1969 and, in 1971, they toured with Uriah Heep; Uriah Heep asked him to join the band (replacing Mark Clarke) in February 1972. He stayed in Uriah Heep until February 1975, playing on four studio albums: Demons & Wizards, The Magician's Birthday, Sweet Freedom and Wonderworld as well as a live album, Uriah Heep Live. During his last U.S. tour with Heep, Thain was seriously injured when he suffered an electric shock at the Moody Coliseum in Dallas, Texas on 15 September 1974.[3] Due to his drug addiction he was not able to perform properly, and was fired by the band in early 1975 and replaced by former King Crimson bassist/vocalist, John Wetton.

Thain was married twice, but had no children. He died of respiratory failure due to a heroin overdose, on 8 December 1975, aged 27,[4] at his flat in Norwood Green in London.[2]

Performing style and equipment[edit]

Amongst musicians of his time, Thain was considered an excellent bassist. Unlike many of his contemporaries, his style was melodic and progressive. He rarely played along with the root notes of the chords, but preferred his own jazz, funk, or progressive bass line. Many typical professional rock bassists never attained his ability to break up a song's direction.

Thain primarily used a 1962 Fender Jazz Bass during his stint in Uriah Heep, though he also used a Gibson Thunderbird bass and a modified Fender Precision Bass. Thain's overdriven bass tone was often created using an Acoustic 360 bass amp from Acoustic Control Corporation. Thain chose to play finger style rather than using a pick.

Albums discography[edit]

Champion Jack Dupree[edit]

  • Scoobydoobydoo (1969)

Martha Velez[edit]

  • Fiends and Angels (1970)

Keef Hartley Band[edit]

Miller Anderson[edit]

  • Bright City (1971)

Pete York Percussion Band[edit]

  • The Pete York Percussion Band (1972)

Uriah Heep[edit]

Ken Hensley[edit]

Me and the Others / The New Nadir[edit]

  • Uncovered (2009)

Singles discography[edit]

The Strangers[edit]

  • 1963: "My Blue Heaven"/"The Dark at the Top of The Stairs"
  • 1964: "Pretend"/"Alright"
  • 1965: "Can't Help Forgiving You"/"I'll Never Be Blue"

The Secrets[edit]

  • 1965: "It's You"/"You're Wrong"
  • 1966: "Me and the Others"/"Love Is Not a Game"

Champion Jack Dupree[edit]

Martha Velez[edit]

  • 1969: "Tell Mama"/"Swamp Man"

Keef Hartley Band[edit]

  • 1969: "Don't Be Afraid"/"Hickory"
  • 1969: "Halfbreed"/"Waiting Around"
  • 1969: "Just to Cry"/"Leave It 'Til The Morning"
  • 1969: "Plain Talkin'"/"We Are All the Same"
  • 1970: "Roundabout"/"Roundabout pt 2"
  • 1973: "Dance to the Music"/"You and Me"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Gary Thain – Dave Chapman". Archived from the original on 2 October 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Biography". garythain.com. Archived from the original on 19 February 2008. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
  3. ^ Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 268. CN 5585.
  4. ^ Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 283. CN 5585.

External links[edit]