Grim Reaper - Biography



Led by the inspired guitar work of Nick Bowcott and the powerful lungs of Steve Grimmett, Grim Reaper's tough, raw, but melodically charged music embodied British heavy metal's most popular devices (and clichés) throughout the mid-'80s. The fact that Grim Reaper was capable of combining the above attributes so competently, yet truly excelled at none of them resulted in an exceedingly swift "rags to glory and back to rags" story, which somehow was as surprising as it was strangely fitting. Add to this a far from attractive visual aesthetic (i.e., they were four crusty English dudes with handlebar moustaches, bad hair, and even worse teeth) and it was clear Grim Reaper was doomed to enjoy a limited afterlife in the newly established MTV regime.

Guitarist Nick Bowcott founded Grim Reaper in Droitwich, England, circa 1979, working with a number of different lineups before teaming up with singer Paul DeMercade, bassist Phil Matthew, and drummer Angel Jacques in time to record his song "The Reaper" for 1981's very influential Heavy Metal Heroes compilation. Despite its brooding power chords and rough-hewn sonics (or perhaps because of them), the song stood out from the album's other New Wave of British Heavy Metal hopefuls and landed the group increased touring commitments up and down the U.K. club circuit. But by the time Grim Reaper finally landed a record deal with independent Ebony records a year later (on the strength of a three-song demo made with studio time won in a battle of the bands competition), Bowcott had scrapped the entire band once again and was now flanked by vocalist Steve Grimmett, bassist Dave Wanklin, and drummer Mark Simon.

Originally issued in November 1983, Grim Reaper's debut, See You in Hell, was far more polished than the band's first single and initially seemed fated for historical oblivion, since European fans steeped in heavy metal history found little merit in the band's energetic but rather ordinary metal style. But to metal-starved American audiences, the album (which giant RCA released worldwide the following year) actually sounded somewhat fresh; at once accessible and aggressive, it went on to sell a quarter of a million copies and reached a very respectable number 73 on the U.S. charts. Extensive touring stateside followed and the conservative media's unfounded allegations of satanic worship due to Grim Reaper's sullen looks; leather-bound wardrobe; and sinister, demonic imagery almost had them feeling like bona fide rock stars by year's end. Once back home in England, the band needed only nine days to record 1985's sophomore Fear No Evil, which nearly matched its predecessor in terms of quality (and competent unoriginality), but nevertheless failed to replicate its commercial success. The bands fair-weather friends at RCA quickly lost interest and Grim Reaper's career suddenly stalled in America.

Bowcott and company spent much of 1986 attempting to regroup and after welcoming new drummer Lee Harris, Grim Reaper finally announced its return with a make-or-break third effort, 1987's somewhat redundant Rock You to Hell. Unfortunately, "break" would be the final verdict, for though the album actually showed some early promise in the U.S., where it climbed to 93 on the charts, sales soon plummeted and it vanished from site. When ongoing discussions to re-utilize some of its songs in a film soundtrack also fell through, Grim Reaper slowly ground to a halt and everyone eventually went their separate ways. Grimmett temporarily joined power metal outfit Onslaught before founding a new band, called Lionsheart, while Bowcott found some notoriety as a regular columnist for Circus Magazine and other guitar publications.

In 2006, Steve Grimmett formed a new version of Grim Reaper, using the lineup that were in his solo band - Pete Newdeck on drums, Ian Nash on guitars and Rich Walker on bass. This lineup recorded Steve's solo album "Personal Crisis" in 2007.

Performing as Steve Grimmett's Grim Reaper a set of all Grim Reaper songs, they played the Keep It True VI festival in Lauda-Königshoffen on 8 April 2006. The band played the annual MetalBrew festival in London's Mill Hill on Saturday 18 July 2009. Later they were scheduled to play at the Play it Loud IV in Bologna, Italy, in September 2009. The festival was then cancelled when the promoter forfeited, but the band (urged on by a crowd of hardcore fans who had already bought tickets) managed to play the date along with a number of originally billed acts (as a single-day event instead of a weekend-spanning one).

The band made a very successful appearance at the British Steel festival in Bolognia Italy in November 2010 at the Estragon venue on a bill that included other classic bands of the NWoBHM era - Diamond Head, Girlschool, Demon and Angelwitch. They also played at the Academy Birmingham with the band Jameson Raid.
The current lineup continues to tour the UK and Europe. They did a short tour of Greece and Cyprus in November 2011 and released the Limited Edition CD EP "Live in Europe 2011″. The band gained worldwide attention during the tour when a video of them playing a small gig at Riff's bar earlier in the year started getting numerous plays on YouTube. This was due to a Greek fan pointing out that Steve looked just like their then finance minister Evangelos Venizelos! The video started to increase in views, resulting in the band getting coverage in national Greek press and front page features in the media magazines. Steve was interviewed many times during the tour. The clip was shown and discussed on national tv. By the end of the tour the video had been viewed more than 250,000 times! It gave Greek fans some light hearted distraction during the tough financial times they were dealing with. The tour took the band across Greece and into Cyprus with well received shows in Athens and Thessaloniki.

Festival appearances in 2012 included headlining at Sweden's "Muskelrock" and Germany's Sword Brothers in 2013.

In Spring 2013 Steve Grimmett's Grim Reaper began recording their new studio album, their first since 1987 for release later in 2014. A week was spent recording drum tracks, ready for sessions to add guitars, bass and vocals to be recorded in December. Mixing is scheduled for January.

The band headlined at this years British Steel festival in London in June, Rock for Diabetes Festival in Trowbridge UK and co-headlined with Tokyo Blade at Belgium's Heavy Sound Festival in November .

The band are currently finishing off their 4th studio album to be mixed in January for a release soon after in 2014.