Monday, August 12, 2002 @ 9:27 AM
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Paul Samson R.I.P
Guitarist Paul Samson (Samson) passed away in his home in Norfolk, England during the afternoon of Friday, 9th August 2002 following his battle with cancer.
Samson were one of the great bands that made the NWOBHM possible and were one of its most charismatic and certainly most influential protagonists. Albums like Head On, Shock Tactics, Before The Storm, Don't Get Mad - Get Even are some of the best Samson records and timeless metal albums as well. Additionally, Paul also released solo material and played with blues bands.
After some absence, Samson entered the big stages during the last years again. Together with Praying Mantis, Angel Witch, Tank and Trespass they were on the bill of the Metal Crusade '99 in Tokyo and played a storming gig at the Wacken Open Air 2000. In addition, a live album (Live In London 2000) was released and several of their older albums were re-released. A new blues-orientated studio album was just in the works.
Please spare a thought for Paul's family and those close to him, and remember them in your prayers.
In Memoriam Paul Samson
by Chris Aylmer (Bassist, Samson)
Paul Samson grew up in a tough area of South East London. His first musical experiences were seeing bands like The Pretty Things in local pubs. Soon however he would come into contact with the musician who was to become such a major influence on his entire life -- Jimi Hendrix.
I first met Paul in 1976 at an audition for The Front Room Band. I was on guitar but we soon realised that we needed a bigger sound. We decided to "audition" in a local pub. People came and went but only one had the front to approach us. Paul marched up complaining that we'd told him the wrong place and insisting on several large drinks before he'd even discuss the band. Within a week he had totally taken over and even stranger we had became firm friends.
Needless to say the band did nothing but our paths crossed at various London gigs. He eventually joined up with John McCoy and the infamous Roger Hunt in Scrapyard, I joined Maya with Clive Burr and Gerry Sherwin. On our days off we would sit in the Trattoria Mondello in Holborn devouring good cheap pasta washed down with copious amounts of Valpolicella. The main topic of conversation -- after Hendrix of course -- was that if we couldn't find the band we both wanted then we'd better form it ourselves. The chance came sooner than either of us expected. John McCoy got the Gillan band job and had to leave more or less immediately so rather than cancel the gigs Paul informed me that I was the new bass player! I had done sound on a few occasions so I knew the set. I borrowed Gerry's bass and off we went.
Paul's appetite for live work was such that we soon became one of the busiest bands on the circuit. Roger Hunt left and we got Clive Burr in. Paul was originally sceptical of renaming the band Samson as he didn't want to be thought of as egotistical. Fortunately he changed his mind. Even in the late seventies Paul was writing his own material. A lot of Hendrix influences but his love of blues showed through right from the start. He was also a great businessman. Realising that Samson needed to be heard by a wider audience he got us a management company who set up recording deals and major tours. Shortly afterwards he discovered a young university student singing in a local pub -- his name was Bruce Dickinson.
I don't think it is an overstatement to say that Paul was the lynchpin of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal as it came to be known. Samson's management was responsible for most of the great gigs of the time. It was not unusual to see us with Iron Maiden, Angelwitch etc on the same bill on a regular basis. Sadly the management company turned out to be less than perfect and Samson lost ground to other acts.
Paul's guitar playing never lost its freshness however. When all around were trying to fit as many notes as possible into every bar, Paul just made sure that every note counted. Just go back to the Reading Festival of 1981 and listen to the gig broadcast on Radio One - surely the biggest sound of the entire weekend. When Bruce left most of us lost heart but not Paul. He drafted in Nicky Moore and Samson took on a whole new lease of life. Paul always had ideas for new songs but would welcome other people's, so we developed as a team to produce Before the Storm and Don't Get Mad -- the definitive Samson albums. When Samson finally came to a halt Paul wasted no time in producing his own solo albums together with various blues projects.
In between bands our personal lives entwined and he eventually followed me up to Norwich where he set up his own studio. Samson as a band reformed with Nicky Moore and Thunderstick for some storming gigs notably the Wacken 2000 Festival and the 1999 Tokyo NWOBHM Reunion show. Paul was working on a new album when his illness was discovered. In typical fashion he refused to give in and continued to work to the very end.
Paul Samson more than deserves his place in the pantheon of British guitar heroes. His style was truly original and like Hendrix he concentrated on feel rather than flashy effects or lightning fingering. His playing influenced a new generation of Heavy Metal bands and remains distinctive to this day. The rock world will be a poorer place without him. I miss him very much.