Samson (band)

Samson (band)
Origin England
Genres Heavy metal
Hard rock
Years active 1977–2002
Associated acts Iron Maiden, Simple Minds, Mammoth, Nicky Moore & the Blues Corporation
Past members
Paul Samson
Tony Heath
Chris Aylmer
Stewart Cochrane
Clive Burr
John McCoy
Barry Graham Purkis
Bruce Dickinson
Mel Gaynor
Nicky Moore
Pete Jupp
Mervyn Goldsworthy
Dave Colwell
Edgar Patrik
Mark Brabbs
Sam Blue
Kevin Riddles
Chris Shirley
Dave Boyce
Mick White
Charlie McKenzie
Toby Sadler
Peter Scallan
Rik Anthony
Tony Tuohy
Ian Ellis
Brian Fleming

Samson was a British hard rock band formed in 1977 by guitarist and vocalist Paul Samson. They are best known for their first three albums with future Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson, then known as "Bruce Bruce", and drummer Thunderstick (real name Barry Graham Purkis), who wore a leather mask and performed on stage in a metal cage. Drummer Clive Burr was also member of the band, both before and after his tenure with Iron Maiden. Drummer Mel Gaynor had a successful music career being a member of Simple Minds for over 20 years. Dickinson's replacement on vocals, Nicky Moore, performed with Samson throughout the mid-1980s and again from the late 1990s onwards; he has also been a member of the bands Mammoth and Nicky Moore and the Blues Corporation.



In 1976, Paul Samson replaced Bernie Tormé in London based band Scrapyard, joining Bassist John McCoy and Drummer Roger Hunt. The band name was changed to McCoy, and they built up a busy gigging schedule, whilst also independently playing various sessions. Eventually, McCoy left to join Atomic Rooster. His replacement was the bands sound engineer and close friend of Paul's, Chris Aylmer. Chris suggested a name change to Samson, and recommended a young Drummer called Clive Burr, who he had previously played with in the band Maya. Clive joined, and Samson was born, although Paul used bassist Bill Pickard and drummer Paul Gunn on odd gigs when Chris and Clive were honouring previous commitments. Although various other people were tried out to expand the line up. Paul got in touch with an old bandmate, bass player Stewart Cochrane, and asked him to try out for a four-piece, with current bass player Chris Aylmer on second guitar alongside Paul. Only one gig was played in this incarnation, at The Nag's Head pub in Rochester, Kent on 11th March 1978, where it was decided that Paul and Chris's playing styles weren't compatible, so they went back to a 3 piece. Stewart Cochrane subsequently left and joined an avant-garde jazz rock band named Spanish Fly; he later continued his career as an orchestra-leader for Holland America Line and Windstar Cruises. In October 1978, Lead vocalist Mark Newman joined, but after about 6 shows Paul resumed lead vocals and they were back to a 3 piece again.

At the end of 1978, Clive Burr left, his last show was at The Bandwagon in North London on New Years Eve. Paul and Chris auditioned over 60 drummers, and eventually decided on Barry Purkis to replace Clive. The band were offered a recording contract, but Chris wouldn't commit, so Paul and Barry decided that as John McCoy was producing, and had co-written much of the material, they would ask him to play bass on the album. The album was recorded for release on Lazer records, and given the title 'Survivors".

The band's second album, Head On, was released July 1980, and peaked at #34 in the UK Albums Chart[1] The supporting tour was full of controversy and legal issues, due to problems with their management.[2] They kept writing and rehearsing for a new record. Ten songs had already been composed, by October 1980, and were ready to be recorded.[2] At the same time, the band re-issued their debut album, Survivors, now with Dickinson handling vocal duties. The tour continued until the end of the year, when Samson entered the studio to record their third album, Shock Tactics. This was the last album Dickinson recorded with the band. Samson faced an innumerable amount of problems with their management.[3] They were always being booked on ill-matched support tours. After leaving their management in 1981 they discovered that their record company was going bankrupt. Dickinson said they "made every mistake in the business".[3] His last performance with Samson was at the Reading Festival in 1981. This was recorded by the BBC and released in 1990, as the live album Live at Reading 1981.

The group posted three entries in the UK Singles Chart. These were "Riding With The Angels (1981, #54), "Losing My Grip" (1982, #63) and "Red Skies (1983, #65).[4]

In 1990 Paul Samson asked New York singer/songwriter Rik Anthony to write lyrics and melodies for Samson's studio reformation project. As a fifty-fifty writing collaboration, Rik wrote all of the lyrics, and Paul wrote all of the music. Rik wrote and recorded the lyrics and melodies for eight songs while in New York, and flew to London to re-record five demos at Picnic Studios. With limited time and a limited budget, the band could only record five demo songs, but due to band member conflict during the recording process, the project was never completed, and remained as rough demos. The Picnic demos were never picked up by Samson's record company, and sat idle for almost nine years. Rik and Paul toured throughout Germany, Holland and the UK, with Bassist Gerry Sherwin and drummer Tony Tuohy, under the name English Rogues, but never with Chris and Barry. Due to lack of money and record company interest, the Samson reformation project was shelved, and Rik went back to New York. In 1999, Paul Samson released a CD containing five of Rik and Paul's compositions from the Picnic Demos, entitled Past, Present and Future.

In 1999 the Samson-Moore-Aylmer-Thunderstick line-up reformed for a series of live dates, including a "25th Anniversary of the NWoBHM" concert at the London Astoria on 26 May 2000, which also featured Angel Witch on the bill. Samson's performance was recorded and released as a live album. The same line-up later appeared at the Wacken Open Air rock festival on 4 August 2000.

The group effectively disbanded with Paul Samson's death from cancer on 9 August 2002. Nicky Moore paid tribute to his late bandmate at the Sweden Rock Festival on 12 June 2004, with a set entitled "Nicky Moore plays Samson".[5]

Bass player Chris Aylmer died on 9 January 2007 following a battle with throat cancer. He was reported to have been responsible for suggesting the band's name. He assumed the role of bass player, having previously been the band's soundman.

The band appeared in a short-movie Biceps of Steel in 1980, directed by Julien Temple,[2] which was intended as the B-film to a major feature produced and promoted by the record company. The film featured two music-video type sequences which form the 15 minute film. Though it has been largely forgotten, clips from it were seen in the movie The Incubus (1981). However, in 2006, Biceps of Steel re-surfaced on Bruce Dickinson's Anthology DVD.


Studio albums
  • Survivors (1979)
  • Head On (1980)
  • Shock Tactics (1981)
  • Before the Storm (1982)
  • Don't Get Mad, Get Even (1984)
  • Head Tactics (1986)
  • Joint Forces (1986) (Paul Samson solo record issued as Samson)
  • Refugee (1990)
  • Samson (1993)
Live albums
  • Thank You and Goodnight (1985)
  • Live at Reading '81 (1990)
  • Metal Crusade '99 (1999 - featuring four bands including Samson)
  • Live in London 2000 (2001)
  • Last Rites (1984)
  • 1988 (1988)
  • Pillars of Rock (1990)
  • Burning Emotion: The Best of Samson (1985–1990) (1995)
  • The BBC Sessions (1997)
  • The Masters (1998)
  • Past, Present, and Future (1999)
  • There and Back (2001)
  • Riding with the Angels: The Anthology (2002)
  • Tomorrow and Yesterday (2006)
  • Mr. Rock 'N' Roll (1984)
  • And There It Is (1988)
  • Biceps of Steel (1980)


Year Guitars Lead Vocals Bass Drums 2nd Guitar Keyboards
1977 Paul Samson Paul Samson Stewart Cochrane Clive Burr Chris Aylmer
1978 Chris Aylmer
1979 John McCoy Barry Graham Purkis
1980 Bruce Dickinson Chris Aylmer
1981 Mel Gaynor
1981 Nicky Moore
1982–1985 Pete Jupp
1985 Mervyn Goldsworthy Dave Colwell
1985 Edgar Patrik
1986 Mark Brabbs
1986 Sam Blue Kevin Riddles
1986 Nicky Moore John McCoy Chris Shirley
1987 Paul Samson Dave Boyce
1988–1990 Mick White Charlie McKenzie Toby Sadler
1990 Peter Scallan
1990-1993 Rik Anthony Chris Aylmer Barry Graham Purkis
1993–2000 Paul Samson Tony Tuohy
2000–2002 Nicky Moore Barry Graham Purkis
2002 Ian Ellis, John McCoy Brian Fleming John McCoy


  1. ^ "UK Top 40 Chart Archive, British Singles & Album Charts". Retrieved 2008-12-16. 
  2. ^ a b c "Samson Biography-sing365". Retrieved 2009 May 28. 
  3. ^ a b "The Bruce Dickinson biography". Book of Hours. Retrieved November 12, 2008. 
  4. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 480. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  5. ^ Report of "Nicky Moore plays Samson" at Sweden Rock Festival, 2004

External links

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