Steve Grimmett, the frontman of British heavy metal band Grim Reaper known for his piercing head vocals, has died aged 62.
The news was confirmed by his son Russ Grimmett on Facebook: “We can’t begin to put the current feelings into words. But since Dad was so well known, the news is starting to come sooner than we would have liked. Sadly, our father passed away today and leaves a huge hole in the world and in our hearts. No cause of death was given.
Part of the new wave of British heavy metal, Grim Reaper formed in Worcestershire in 1979 and Grimmett joined in 1982, replacing Paul de Mercado on vocals. Grimmett cited Elton John as an unlikely inspiration and “the reason I sing,” he told the Cosmick View. He also referenced David Coverdale, Dio and Rob Halford of Judas Priest as influences.
Grimmett would become the band’s only constant member during their two stints together, until 1988 and then again from 2006 to the present day.
They released their debut album, See You in Hell, in 1983 via RCA. It reached number 73 on the US Billboard album chart. The band thrived until legal battles with their record company delayed their third album by almost two years, by which time their melodic sound had been commercially usurped by thrash and speed metal. This led to the dropping of a fourth album and the band’s first breakup. “The legal stuff hit us while we were writing this album and we just lost faith,” Grimmett said.
During this period, Grimmett would front bands Onslaught and Lionsheart, and Grim Reaper would see their music lovingly mocked episodes of MTV animation Beavis and Butt-Head.
They reunited in 2006 in response to demand to perform at festivals and on tour. In 2016, the band – now known as Steve Grimmett’s Grim Reaper – released their first new studio album in decades, Walking in the Shadows.
In January 2017, Grimmett was hospitalized while performing in Ecuador with an infection in his right leg. The surgery led to a partial amputation. He started walking again with a prosthetic leg and the band kept spinning. “I lay in a hospital bed for seven weeks with no entertainment and only half an hour of internet a day,” Grimmett said. “Half of that time I spent…talking to my family, and the other 15 minutes a day watching how the hell I could get back on that stage doing what I do for the fans. It was driving me crazy that I didn’t have more time than that, but it was the driving force that kept me going.
They released another album, At the Gates, in 2019. “It’s about me about to die when I lost my leg in Ecuador,” Grimmett told Metal Temple. He said he suffered from PTSD and depression.
In January 2022, Grimmett said the band was working on new material. In a May 2022 interview, Grimmett said he had no regrets “anything” despite being penniless.
“I’m on welfare at the moment because of Covid, and a lot of people think I’m a millionaire, but I can tell you now that I’m not. I’ve never received a penny – not a dime – from Grim Reaper, so that says it all, right? But still, no regrets. I still love getting up there and playing. I still love looking at the smiling faces in front of me. That says it all and does everything for me.