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Key players in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement, at their commercial peak Samson blazed a trail of sonic fury in the late '70s and early '80s alongside contemporaries like Motörhead, Judas Priest, Diamond Head, and Iron Maiden. The latter band would play a key role in Samson's development, as they were frequent touring partners during the group's ascension. In 1981, after releasing a pair of highly respected albums (Head On and Shock Tactics), Samson's then-lead singer Bruce Bruce, better known by his given name Bruce Dickinson, left to join Iron Maiden as their new frontman. The ensuing years saw founder and namesake Paul Samson embark on a brief solo career, but despite industry volatility and multiple personnel changes, the band continued to turn out quality work well into the '90s -- Paul Samson's death in 2002 resulted in the band officially ceasing operations.
Formed in 1977 by guitarist and vocalist Paul Samson, the group went through the usual growing pains before settling on a lineup that consisted of Samson on guitar and vocals, Chris Aylmer on bass, and Barry Graham Purkis (more commonly known as Thunderstick) on drums, the latter of whom became a sort of cult figure with his ghoulish masks and propensity for playing inside of a locked cage. Released in 1979 by the Laser label, Survivors marked the band's debut, and though new vocalist Bruce Bruce appeared on the cover sheet, the LP was recorded before he officially joined.
Samson's sophomore effort, 1980's Head On, was the first to feature Bruce Bruce behind the mike, and peaked at number 34 on the U.K. albums chart, prompting the group to reissue Survivors with Dickinson handling vocal duties. They delivered another hard-hitting and well-received set of material with 1981's Shock Tactics, which managed to land the song "Riding with the Angels" on the U.K. singles chart. A confluence of bad luck involving poor management and a tanking record company reached a tipping point when Dickinson decided to take over as frontman for Iron Maiden, replacing Paul Di'Anno. Purkis also left the fold, forming his own band, Thunderstick, and was briefly replaced by Mel Gaynor, who would later go on to find success behind the kit with Simple Minds.
Undeterred, Samson inked a deal with Polydor and recruited ex-Hackensack and Tiger vocalist Nicky Moore, as well as new drummer Pete Jupp. That crew helmed 1982's Before the Storm, which included the singles "Red Skies" and "Losing My Grip," both of which charted. After the release of 1984's Don't Get Mad, Get Even, the group more or less disbanded, with Paul Samson opting to go it alone, issuing 1986's Joint Forces as a solo record. He assembled a new crew for 1990's Refugee and 1993's Samson, and in 2000 he joined with Nicky Moore, Thunderstick, and Chris Aylmer for a series of reunion shows. The book was officially closed on the group in 2002, after Paul Samson succumbed to cancer. During that time he had been working with Moore on new material, which appeared on 2006's posthumous released P.S. ~ James Christopher Monger
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