Samson was an English heavy metal band, formed in 1977 by namesake guitarist Paul Samson. They cut two 1978 singles on small-press Lightning Records, followed by the 1979 album Survivors on Laser. Drummer Thunderstick (aka Barry Graham Purkis) functioned as the band’s leather-masked mascot in photos and live shows, where he performed inside a metal cage.

Future Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson (credited as “Bruce Bruce”) joined for the 1980–81 RCA albums Head On and Shock Tactics. With ex-Tiger singer Nicky Moore, Samson released the 1982–84 Polydor albums Before the Storm and Don’t Get Mad Get Even. After the 1986 Raw Power release Joint Forces, Samson released two nineties-era titles before the guitarist’s death in 2002.

Members: Paul Samson (guitar, vocals), Chris Aylmer (bass, rhythm guitar, 1977-78, 1980-85, 1992-2002), Clive Burr (drums, 1977-78), Stewart Cochrane (bass, 1978), Mark Newman (vocals, 1978), Barry Graham Purkis [aka Thunderstick] (drums, 1979-81, 2000-02), John McCoy (bass, rhythm guitar, 1979, 1985-86, 2002), Bruce Bruce [Bruce Dickinson] (vocals, 1980-81), Mel Gaynor (drums, 1981), Nicky Moore (vocals, 1981-86, 2000-02), Pete Jupp (drums, 1982-85, 2001), Merv Goldsworthy (bass, 1985), Dave Colwell (rhythm guitar, 1985), Chris Shirley (drums, 1985-87), Edgar Patrik (drums, 1985-86), Jo Julian (synthesizer, 1985), Kevin Riddles (bass, 1986), Sam Blue (vocals, 1986), Mark Brabbs (drums, 1986)


Samson took root when Paul Samson replaced (future Gillan) guitarist Bernie Tormé in Scrapyard, a London-based hard-rock combo with ex-Zzebra bassist John McCoy. They gigged as McCoy until John joined Tormé in Gillan. Paul hired friend and concert soundman Chris Aylmer as the band’s new bassist. Aylmer suggested ‘Samson’ as the new band name and introduced Paul to drummer Clive Burr, recently of the unsigned Maya.

The trio of Samson, Aylmer, and Burr cut a deal with Lightning Records, a London-based punk and reggae indie. They cut two singles at Surrey Sound Studios in Leatherhead with McCoy as their producer.

Lightning Singles

A. “Telephone”
B. “Leavin’ You”

A. “Mr Rock and Roll”
B. “Drivin’ Music”


In early 1979, Burr jumped ship to rising metal stars Iron Maiden. Samson auditioned over sixty drummers and chose Barry Purkis. They signed with Laser Records, a short-lived label that served as a UK outlet for Jamaican reggae singles.


Samson released their debut album, Survivors, in 1979 on Laser Records. It features seven songs co-written by Paul Samson and producer John McCoy, including “Koz,” “Six Foot Under,” and “It’s Not as Easy as It Seems.” Side One climaxes with “Tomorrow or Yesterday,” a Paul solo composition. McCoy deputizes Chris Aylmer’s bass on select numbers.

Gillan keyboardist Colin Towns plays supplemental keyboards on Survivors, the only Samson album with Paul himself on lead vocals.

1. “It’s Not as Easy as It Seems” (3:06)
2. “I Wish I Was the Saddle of a Schoolgirl’s Bike” (3:08)
3. “Big Brother” (6:18)
4. “Tomorrow or Yesterday” (6:34)
5. “Koz” (4:24)
6. “Six Foot Under” (5:11)
7. “Inside Out” (4:08)
8. “Wrong Side of Time” (4:48)

Produced At – Kingsway Recorders, Holborn, London, U.K. Studio owned by Ian Gillan and Martin Birch, formerly known as De Lane Lea 
Producer – John McCoy
Engineer – Bob Broglia

Bass – Chris Aylmer, John McCoy
Drums, Percussion – Thunderstick
Lead Vocals, Lead Guitar, Rhythm Guitar [Backing Guitar] – Paul Samson

Keyboards – Colin Towns

Design [Sleeve], Illustration – Graham Collins
Photography By [Gillan Band] – Mick Gregory
Photography By [Samson] – Phil E. Neumann

Bruce Dickinson Joins

Soon after Survivors hit shelves, Samson hired singer Bruce Dickinson (b. 1958), who cut one single with the Basildon metal act Speed. With Dickinson, Samson re-recorded five Survivors tracks (“Inside Out,” “Six Foot Under,” “Wrong Side of Time,” “It’s Not as Easy as It Seems,” “I Wish I Was the Saddle”) but these second versions remained vaulted until the album’s 1990 CD reissue. Meanwhile, Samson signed with RCA.


  • Survivors (1979)
  • Head On (1980)
  • Shock Tactics (1981)
  • Before the Storm (1982)
  • Don’t Get Mad Get Even (1984)
  • Thank You and Goodnight (live, 1985)
  • Joint Forces (1986)


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