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Sunday Old School: White Spirit

The New Wave of British Heavy Metal has been studied, mentioned and dragged up time and time again throughout the history of this here column; and with good reason. It gave the genre some of the greatest bands in the field and revitalised the friendly rivalry between the British and American heavy metal scenes. While the Midlands gets a lot of attention for producing such NWOBHM acts as Diamond Head and Blitzkrieg, as well as icons such as Judas Priest and Black Sabbath, the North East contributed massively to the scene with the likes of Venom, Raven and Neat Records, as well as today's featured band, White Spirit.

White Spirit were formed in the coastal town of Hartlepool, most famous for the legend that the locals hung a monkey during the Napoleonic wars, believing it to be a French spy, in 1975 by drummer Graeme Crallan and guitarist Janick Gers. They were joined in the endeavour by vocalist Bruce Ruff, bassist Phil Brady and keyboardist Malcolm Pearson, displaying a sound closer to that of Deep Purple and Uriah Heep to the more contemporary styles of Saxon and Samson.

It was to be another five years before the band were able to put out a release, a single entitled, "Backs to the Grind," through the aforementioned Neat Records, which included the b-side, "Cheetah," which would later be featured on Neat's own "Lead Weight" compilation, as well Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich's own New Wave of British Heavy Metal collection, "New Wave of British Heavy Metal '79 Revisited."

The popularity of the single led them to record and release a self-titled full length album through the major label, MCA. Like many other NWOBHM bands, White Spirit appeared at the 1980 edition of the prestigious Reading festival, alongside such bands as Iron Maiden, Budgie, Ozzy Osbourne and UFO, replacing the previously announced Q Tips. The next year however, White Spirit were dealt a huge blow when Gers accepted the offer to replace Bernie Torme in Gillan, with whom he recorded the albums, "Double Trouble" and "Magic."

Gers' departure was seemingly the fatal blow to the group, as they folded shortly afterwards. Many of the members went on to other projects and joined up with other NWOBHM favourites such as Tank, who recruited Graeme Crallan and most famously, Iron Maiden, who hired Janick Gers in 1990. Though only a short lived outfit with one album, White Spirit are still held in high regard by all those who witnessed and continue to listen to the New Wave of British Heavy Metal.

White Spirit - "Backs to the Grind"

White Spirit - "Cheetah"

White Spirit - "Suffragettes"

White Spirit - "Fool for the Gods"

White Spirit - "Red Skies"

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.

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