Samson started off in the spring of 1977, when three guys - Paul Samson on guitar, John McCoy on bass guitar and Roger Hunt on drums - got together to form a band and wrote a few songs.
Almost straightaway McCoy left to join John DuCann, so their sound man, Chris Aylmer, was brought in to play bass. Shortly afterwards, drummer Hunt left too. His replacement was Clive Burr, who Aylmer had known from a band called Maya.
After two rehearsals they decided to form a permanent band. Aylmer suggested they name the band Samson, as Paul was playing and singing lead as well as writing the songs. History was in the making...
Early Days, 1977 - 1979
Samson started off playing at USAF bases in Italy, trying to get the money to finance a single. This came in September 1978, and was called 'Telephone' and was released on the Lightning Records label. By now things were happening fast and furiously. In the summer of 1978 they had played at Neal Kay's Soundhouse, better known as the Bandwagon. Kay was eager to expose people to heavy metal, and Samson were welcome to his place.
Samson's early touring was relentless. This was Samson's tactic to get themselves an audience in a time when punk was the prevailing fashion in music. In their first 15 months they played over 220 gigs, including four appearances at the Soundhouse/Bandwagon. This heavy schedule induced drummer Clive Burr to quit after the Soundhouse gig on New Year's Eve, 1978. He went on to Iron Maiden.
Samson's new drummer was Barry Graham. Their first album with Graham was released in October. Meanwhile, Graham had invented a new image for himself. He wore a black sadomasochistic mask on stage, and went by the name Thunderstick. The new entity was made in time for a Soundhouse tour, The Heavy Metal Crusade, which featured bands Iron Maiden and Angelwitch as well as Samson. This met a positive response, and sure helped Samson earn their reputation as a good hard metal band.
Releases in the 1970s
- 'Telephone' single (Lightning Records)
- 'Mr Rock 'n' Roll' single (Lightning Records)
- Survivors album (Lightning Records)
1980 - 1983
In April, Samson had seen a band called Shots play, and had been impressed by its singer, Bruce Dickinson1. They invited him to join the band, and he made his debut in July. However, the new singer and the new songs they'd written alienated some of their fans who had been with them from the start. Their sound had changed and it took the fans a little while to get used to it.
The band followed their standard procedure of constant touring, with a noticeable incident where they did an encore, which meant the supporting band could not do theirs. The fans rioted.
Early in July, Thunderstick left the group as there was a rift between him and the rest of the band. Everyone involved was changing and growing up. Their new drummer was Mel Gaynor who joined in August and in time to play the Reading Festival.
At this time, Iron Maiden had dropped their singer, Paul Di'Anno, and were on the lookout for a new one. At the same time two record labels, A&M and RCA, were offering £2 million record deals. Bruce left to join Iron Maiden, and both companies dropped their offers. While this may seem harsh, Samson were already in trouble. Having ditched their management, they ended up with their instruments being taken away and unable to legally tour. Their new singer was Nicky Moore.
Shortly after, it became apparent that Moore was becoming unable to give the band total commitment as a sessionist due to his busy schedule. He was dropped in January 1982. New drummer Pete Jupp was introduced straight away.
Their first European tour, to promote the album Before the Storm was an instant success. They were the supporting band to Whitesnake. European sales of Before the Storm dwarfed British sales.
This success actually got them in trouble with their record label, Polydor. Polydor wanted Samson to follow the commercial routine. Samson told them where to get off and changed their manager.
Polydor also insisted that bassist Aylmer be dropped in favour of younger player Merv Goldsworthy. A second guitarist was also added, called Dave Colwell. Samson had to comply, otherwise all album and tour funding would almost certainly have been withdrawn.
At the end of a British tour in April 1984, they found that Polydor had withdrawn funds and cancelled another UK tour. Now they wanted the singer, Moore, to leave. Paul Samson refused. The band split. Each member went on to different bands.
Releases in the '80s
- 'Vice Versa' single, May 1981(GEM)
- Head On album, June 1981 (GEM)
- Shock Tactics album, February 1982 (GEM)
- Before the Storm album, June 1982 (Polydor)
- 'Life on the Run' single, October 1982 (Polydor)
- 'Red Skies' single February 1983 (Polydor)
- Don't Get Mad, Get Even album, October 1983 (Polydor)
- 'Are You Ready?' single October 1983 (Polydor)
Paul Samson's band, Paul Samson's Empire, played with Iron Maiden in the UK leg of their 'Somewhere on Tour' tour. After the tour however, Empire lost its impetus and fell apart. Paul Samson set about getting another band together, and named it Samson. The press announced the band's rebirth, and work starting flooding in.
The new line-up was Paul Samson on guitar and lead vocals, Charlie Mack on drums, Toby Sadler on keyboards and Dave Boyce on bass.
The band announced their comeback with a television appearance in Berlin by Paul Samson and Clive Burr, plus a tour in Yugoslavia and Britain. There followed much touring over the years, until 1989. After another tour in Yugoslavia, Samson broke his left hand which put the band off the road until December.
In October, however, Samson was invited to New York. There he met back up with Thunderstick. Along with a bass player, they played some gigs around the East Coast, including their early material.
In January 1990, after returning from America, Samson recruited Tony Tuohy on drums and Gerry Sherwin on bass. 1991 was a quiet year for the band; things didn't hot up until the second half of the year. There was a tour of clubs in the Black Forest area of Germany, plus some dates in Scotland.
In the spring of 1992, Sherwin fell ill and was unable to continue with the band so Chris Alymer was brought back in. The band played a relentless 185-date British tour in 1993, but the metal scene had changed so much from Samson's earlier days, and they weren't pulling the crowds as they used to. Tuohy left early on in 1994 and the rest of the band decided to quieten things down for a short while. Samson spent most of 1994 negotiating for the rights to early Samson albums from the '80s.
The rest of the 90s saw Paul Samson play with various other bands, among them Metallic Blue and he also made a few guest appearances in some concerts.
In August 1999, Samson received a call from Bruce Dickinson about the possibility of some 20th anniversary Samson concerts with Alymer and Thunderstick. Samson welcomed this, but the next thing that happened, after some rehearsals, was that Dickinson re-joined Iron Maiden for their 20th anniversary concerts.
Samson, as a three-piece with Thunderstick and Alymer, played in the Metal Crusade '99, and there are plans for a European tour with other bands.
Samson, whilst not being quite as influential or even successful as other metal bands that grew up around them, have still been able to make a name for themselves. They hope to be able to continue this into the future.