WORLD-renowned Dorset-born drummer Lee Kerslake, who worked with Ozzy Osbourne, has died at age 73 following a long battle with prostate cancer.

As well as playing alongside the Black Sabbath frontman, Mr Kerslake was also one of the founding members of progressive hard rock group Uriah Heep.

His death was confirmed by his Uriah Heep bandmate Ken Hensley, who said Kerslake had died in the early hours of Saturday, September 19.

In an announcement on Hensley’s Facebook fan page on Saturday, he said: “It’s with the heaviest of hearts that I share with you that Lee Kerslake, my friend of 55 years and the best drummer I ever played with, lost his battle with cancer at 3.30am this morning.

“He died peacefully, praise The Lord, but he will be terribly missed.

“I know many of you were praying for him not to suffer and I thank you for that and, now that Lee is at peace, our thoughts and prayers should turn to his wife Sue who will need all the support she can get at this time.”

Mr Kerslake’s greatest commercial success came as the drummer for Osbourne in 1980 and 1981, when he recorded the classic albums Blizzard Of Ozz, which featured the hit Crazy Train, and Diary Of A Madman.

The drummer’s death came a day before the 40th anniversary of Blizzard Of Ozz, which was released on September 20, 1980.

Prior to working with Osbourne’s solo group, he played drums for Uriah Heep from 1971 to 1979, and he rejoined in 1981 and stayed with the band until 2007.

Last year, Mr Kerslake returned to his hometown of Bournemouth for a final farewell as part of his documentary ‘Not On The Heep’ depicting his life and music career.

Tributes have flooded in over social media from music fans as well as famous musicians and close friends within the music industry.

On his Twitter account, Ozzy Osbourne said: “Its been 39 years since I’ve seen Lee but he lives forever on the records he played on for me, Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman. Lee Kerslake RIP.”

Kiss singer Paul Stanley, who also expressed his condolences on Twitter, said: “RIP Lee Kerslake. Lee was a dynamo of a drummer who drove Uriah Heep through their heyday like a Crazy Train.

“He propelled Ozzy’s original band the same way.

“When last in London he came to visit although ill. A lovely man who fought cancer to the end with a smile. Rest my friend.”

Uriah Heep lead guitarist and close friend Mick Box posted a recent picture of him and Lee Kerslake with a heartfelt message about the drummer. He said: “Lee was one of the kindest men on earth, as well as being a brother he was an incredible drummer, singer and song writer.

“He had a passion for life bar none and was much loved by the fans, as well as anyone who crossed his path. Rock in peace my friend.”

Despite drumming on Diary Of A Madman, Kerslake’s name was erased from the album and replaced by subsequent drummer Tommy Aldridge. A longstanding dispute followed where, in 1986, Kerslake and Osbourne bassist Bob Daisley sued the singer over unpaid royalties from Blizzard Of Ozz.

In 2018, Kerslake requested that Osbourne send him platinum records for his contributions after announcing he had only eight months to live. Osbourne sent him the platinum album in January of last year.