Steve Grimmett (19 August 1959 – 15 August 2022) – A Personal Tribute Steve Grimmett (19 August 1959 – 15 August 2022) – A Personal Tribute

I first had the pleasure of interviewing Steve in 2005 when Majestic Rock Records issued an album of Medusa demos (‘Clash Of The Titans’) and asked me to write the sleeve notes. Evesham-based Medusa had been Steve’s first band and, as far as he could recall at the time, “I think Lance [Perkins] actually started the band and then Eddie [Smith] came on board. It was certainly Lance who invited me to come to a rehearsal and sing but I had a nasty car accident and it was about three or so weeks before I could actually try out for them.” Alongside guitarist Perkins and drummer Smith bassist Nick Beard rounded out the outfit, and although for a brief time they were actually a five-piece, “I really can’t remember the other guitarist’s name at all. It was a long time ago, after all,” he added. This was around 1978 or 1979, Steve reckoned, but Smith soon re-invented himself as Eddie Starr in Wrathchild, and although the band did recruit another drummer (“a chap called Phil” was the best Steve could do) Perkins also soon departed and joined Starr as Lance Rocket. Steve was now left kicking his heels, trying to work out what to do next.


Another band on the local circuit was Grim Reaper, featuring guitarist Nick Bowcott. “I’d actually said to my dad once that if Medusa folded, Reaper would be a band I’d love to sing for,” Steve recalled. “Then out of the blue a couple of weeks later I had a phone call from Nick. He was absolutely drunk off his head,” Steve laughed at the memory, “just talked gibberish, and after the conversation had finished I was left thinking, ‘I’m sure he was trying to ask me something,’ but whatever it was, he didn’t get round to doing it. And then he called me back the next day and said ‘sorry about that. What I phoned you up for was to ask you if you would join me in Grim Reaper’.” With bassist Dave Wanklin and drummer Lee Harris on board Grim Reaper started rehearsing and making demos, and signed to Ebony Records.


Steve Grimmett, Grim Reaper, February 1984 (c) John Tucker

“In between all this activity with Grim Reaper, I had a phone call from another local band, Chateaux,” Steve explained. “They asked me to do a single for them, because they couldn’t find a singer. I did it for the experience, really.” Chateaux’s debut 7”, ‘Young Blood’ appeared on Ebony Records in 1982. It wasn’t long before the label signed them up for an LP and, still lacking a vocalist, they asked Steve to reprise his role. He consulted Nick who told him to do it. “‘And take our demo with you and drop it off while you’re there’ – which I had in mind to do, anyway.” Not long after this Ebony offered Grim Reaper a deal and the band would go on to release three albums – ‘See You In Hell’ (December 1983), ‘Fear No Evil’ (May 1985) and ‘Rock You To Hell’ (September 1987). RCA in America had taken a keen interest in the band’s albums (actually taking over the release of ‘Rock You To Hell’ entirely) and although Grim Reaper never made the UK charts they’re one of the few NWOBHM bands whose albums spent numerous weeks on Billboard.


Steve Grimmett and Nick Bowcott, Grim Reaper, February 1984 (c) John Tucker

Things fell apart during the writing for the fourth album, and, finding himself at a loose end once more, Steve took a call from Onslaught’s manager. The band were looking to replace vocalist Sy Keeler and had their eyes on Steve, and after demoing some material, he joined the band in 1988 for the ‘In Search Of Sanity’ album. Despite the LP’s success he left Onslaught in 1990. ““I didn’t enjoy it any more and the worse part was that I’d started Lionsheart whilst I was still with Onslaught and I so much preferred doing that, so it was like, well, bye-bye Onslaught. I can’t knock the music, and I won’t, but it just wasn’t me...”

A more melodic rock act, Lionsheart released their self-titled debut in July 1992. “Up to that point it was the best thing I’d ever done, to be honest with you,” is how Steve described. “I enjoyed every minute of it, my heart and soul was in it, and I just loved it. I loved playing the songs live, and I really enjoyed doing the album although I ended up with vocal nodes. It was a great album in my opinion, great songs, and I really loved the song ‘Portrait’, the one about Dorian Gray. It was a great time working with some fantastic musicians.” ‘Lionsheart’ was well received and, clichés aside, the band were huge in Japan. “The album went to No.1 in the Japanese charts, which is totally unheard of for a non-Japanese band. It brought on a tour of Japan, and we couldn’t walk out in the streets without being recognised and mobbed. Everywhere we went there were fans. If we went on the Tube or the Bullet Train they were at the station where we left and they were at the station where we got off. It was, well, I can’t describe it… It was weird, put it that way!”


Lionsheart went on to release four studio albums and one live set from Japan. After 2004’s ‘Abyss’ came a solo album ‘Personal Crisis’ in 2007 and the Grimmstine release with Steve Stine in 2008. But things tend to go full-circle, and in 2011 an EP ‘Alive And Kicking’ became the first release by Steve Grimmett’s Grim Reaper, as the singer brought the band back into the limelight once more. Since then two full albums ‘Walking In The Shadows’ (September 2016) and ‘At The Gates’ (October 2019) have followed, with a live set taped in 2018 released as ‘Reaping The Whirlwind’ earlier this year.


While in Ecuador in January 2017 Steve lost his right leg after an infection set in. Although this was obviously a bitter blow at the time, he was back on stage in a wheelchair in July, and sometimes used a prosthetic leg, although admitted that he found it quite uncomfortable at times. He always had a good sense of humour though and said that the artwork for ‘At The Gates’, created by Tysondog’s Steve Morrison, was something he’d pictured in his head. “It’s the first time I’ve visualised a cover since the first album, with The Reaper on horseback,” he told me in August 2019. “This one was The Reaper at the gate, and it was my interpretation of what it would have been like, literally, as I was dying in hospital. This was what I would expect it to be. There’s even an homage to my leg on there as well!” he laughed.


There are numerous other recordings that bear Steve’s name, and as the in-house producer at Samurai Studios he’s also clocked up a number of production and engineering credits. I had the pleasure of meeting him a few times and talking to him even more on the phone, and always enjoyed his sense of humour as well as his love and knowledge of music. He will be greatly missed by us all.

John Tucker August 2022