Tributes by Phil Aston and Joe Geesin
Above is my video tribute to vocalist and blues rock singer extraordinaire Nicky Moore.
Nicky Moore was the vocalist for Samson and later Mammoth. He also sang with Tiger featuring Big Jim Sullivan, Uli Jon Roth and was even involved with and early incarnation of Back Street Crawler with Paul Kossoff.
I first became aware of Nicky Moore after being in the band Rogue Male with ex Samson bass player Chris Alymer. He gave be some of his Samson albums and I was hooked from that point on.
The jewel in the crown for me is the album ‘Before The Storm’ from 1982 which features many fine tracks but two stick out as truly essential listens. The first one is ‘Losing my Grip’ which was also a single but it is the closing track “Young Idea’ which really is stunning and something I recommend everyone listens to.
Nicky delivers a vocal that tells a story and puts you the listening at the very heart of the song. It really is sublime and just a classic performance.
I would recommend ‘Don’t Get Mad Get Even’ also from Samson and the debut album by Mammoth which is actually an album full of commercial rock songs that should’ve been far more successful.
The Samson 3CD Box Set from Cherry Red Records is also a great place to start.
Vocalist Nicky Moore, best work for his work fronting Samson and Mammoth, died on 2 August 22. He had been suffering ill health for a little while, and although he was suffering pneumonia when he died, the cause of death has not yet been announced.
Born in either 1949 or 1052, depending on source, Moore had been active since 1969, making his name in the early 70s with Hackensack, a solid blues rock group who issued and album and single back in the day, and the 1973 live recording Live – The Hard Way (issued in 1996) is well worth searching out. Saxon’s Biff Byford recently recalled how he used to go watch Hackensack in his (pre Saxon) youth.
Moore worked with Tiger, releasing two albums, before forming The Nicky Moore Band, coinciding with the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal.
The artist that brought Moore to more mainstream attention was Samson, led by guitarist Paul Samson. Famously a replacement for Bruce Bruce (aka Dickinson), who was poached to join Iron Maiden. Nicky Moore recorded two albums with Samson, 1982’s Before The Storm and 1984’s Don’t Get Mad, Get Even. Moore’s solid bluesy vocals suited Paul Samson’s blues tinged guitar perfectly and both albums are just sheer joy. Moore could still handle a scream well, being more solid and throatier than Bruce’s air raid siren. The latter’s title track, a personal fave, is a highlight, as are tracks like Young Idea, Losing My Grip and Red Skies. Are You Ready was used by the Tommy Vance Friday Rock Show for a while too. Miss out on these two albums at your peril. Moore had always struggled with his size; Paul once told me they got Moore down to 13 Stone, but almost had to keep him on a leash while on tour to prevent him inhaling kebabs. Collectors’ note: many of the singles were issued on both red and silver labels.
Sadly things with the label (Polydor) weren’t great, and Paul was forced to split the band in order to get out of the deal. The live album Thank You And Goodnight followed, before Nicky Moore guested on Samson’s solo album Joint Forces. He also sung on 1 track on Beyond The Astral Skies, a 1985 album by Uli Jon Roth’s Electric Sun, and was part of the touring band too.
Moore’s next project was with former Gillan bassist John McCoy in the (quite literally) larger than life Mammoth. The music was solid polished yet powerful AOR and an amazing listen. The band recorded 2 albums before splitting in 1989, sadly there was too much a gimmick read in by the music press at the time. I thought I had everything at the time but years later I discovered a 12” picture disc at Beano’s in Croydon which I snapped up. All The Days and Fat Man are great tracks.
Nicky then toured with former More guitarist Kenny Cox as Moore’n’More, and I first met Nicky at a gig at the Shelley Arms in Nutley, East Sussex (a pub where I also got to meet Marshall Law, Excalibur, The Groundhogs and Lisa Dominique). I took what I thought was a small sample of records for Nicky to sign, after which he dedicated a song to me, called Writer’s Cramp. A great sense of humour.
Our paths would cross many times later, as from the early to mid 90s up to the mid 00s he toured and recorded with The Blues Corporation (once voted as best live blues band on Radio 2) .
In the late 90s Moore appeared regularly on the TV docu-soap Lakesiders as a vocal coach.
During the 90s and 00s Moore also guested on a number of tribute albums, recording tracks by the likes of Nazareth, Whitesnake, Thin Lizzy and ZZ Top. He also worked with former Nazareth guitarist Manny Charlton and some Swedish musicians for an album by From Behind.
In 2000 Moore joined a reunited Samson, alongside guitarist Paul, bassist Chris Aylmer and drummer Thunderstick. The band played Wacken and shows in Japan, and I spent time with the band back stage at the London Astoria, the show being recorded for a live album.
Nicky and I frequently chatted at Blues Corporation shows, and we oft gave me a CD or recording (or two). Latter Blues Corporation shows featured Moore’s son Timmy on guitar.
A wonderful friendly guy with a huge heart and even bigger talent.
To me, Moore is THE voice of rock. Much missed. The world and certainly the rock world is a sadder place without him.
Footnote: I briefly ran a fanzine for Paul Samson, 2 issues, and the second features a Nicky Moore review. Check them out here
Joe Geesin | Now Spinning Magazine