English Drummer, Song writer and Producer Mel George Gaynor was born 29 May 1960 in Balham, London, England. He is best known as the longtime drummer for the rock band Simple Minds. Gaynor was born to a Jamaican father and an Afro-Brazilian mother. Gaynor began drumming at age 11 and had his first professional engagement at age 14. Gaynor considers The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, and the Mahavishnu Orchestra to be his main influences.
He joined the British hard rock band Samson who were formed in 1977 by guitarist and vocalist Paul Samson. They are best known for their first three albums with future Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson, then known as “Bruce Bruce”, and drummer Thunderstick (real name Barry Graham Purkis), who wore a leather mask and performed on stage in a metal cage. Drummer Clive Burr was also a member of the band, both before and after his tenure with Iron Maiden. Drummer Mel Gaynor had a successful music career being a member of Simple Minds for over 20 years. Dickinson’s replacement on vocals, Nicky Moore, performed with Samson throughout the mid-1980s and again from the late 1990s onwards; he has also been a member of the bands Mammoth and Nicky Moore and the Blues Corporation. In 1976 Paul Samson replaced Bernie Tormé in London-based band Scrapyard, joining bassist John McCoy and drummer Roger Hunt.
The band name was changed to McCoy, and they built up a busy gigging schedule, whilst also independently playing various sessions. Eventually, McCoy left to join Atomic Rooster. His replacement was the band’s sound engineer and a close friend of Paul Samson’s, Chris Aylmer. Aylmer suggested a name change to Samson, and recommended a young drummer, Clive Burr, whom he had previously played with in the band Maya. Burr joined, and Samson was born, although for a time Paul Samson used bassist Bill Pickard and drummer Paul Gunn on odd gigs when Aylmer and Burr were honouring previous commitments. Various other people were tried out to expand the line up: Paul Samson got in touch with an old bandmate, bass player Stewart Cochrane, and asked him to try out with the group as a four-piece, with the current bass player Chris Aylmer on second guitar alongside Paul. Only one gig was played in this incarnation, at The Nag’s Head pub in Rochester, Kent on 11 March 1978, where it was decided that Paul Samson and Aylmer’s playing styles were not compatible, so they went back to being a three-piece. Cochrane joined the avant-garde jazz-rock band Spanish Fly; he later continued his career as an orchestra-leader for Holland America Line, Windstar Cruises and performed and recorded with members of bands The Animals, Nashville Teens and Steve Hackett Band. In October 1978, lead vocalist Mark Newman joined, but after about six shows, Paul Samson resumed lead vocals and they reverted to a three-piece line-up.
At the end of 1978, Burr left. They auditioned over 60 drummers, and eventually decided on Barry Purkis. The band were offered a recording contract, but Aylmer would not commit, so Paul Samson and Purkis decided that, as John McCoy was producing and had co-written much of the material, they would ask him to play bass on the album. The album was recorded for release on Lazer records, and given the title Survivors. In late 1979 Bruce Dickinson joined as lead vocalist under the name ‘Bruce Bruce’.
The band’s second album, Head On, was released in July 1980 and peaked at No. 34 in the UK Albums Chart The supporting tour was full of controversy and legal issues, due to problems with their management. They kept writing and rehearsing for a new record. Ten songs had already been composed, by October 1980, and were ready to be recorded. At the same time, the band re-issued their debut album, Survivors, now with Dickinson handling vocal duties. The tour continued until the end of the year, when Samson entered the studio to record their third album, Shock Tactics. This was the last album Dickinson recorded with the band. Samson faced innumerable problems with their management. They were always being booked on ill-matched support tours. After leaving their management in 1981 they discovered that their record company was going bankrupt. Dickinson said they “made every mistake in the business”. His last performance with Samson was at the Reading Festival in 1981. This was recorded by the BBC and released in 1990, as the live album Live at Reading 1981. The band appeared in a short-movie Biceps of Steel in 1980, directed by Julien Temple, which featured two music-video type sequences which form the 15 minute film and were features in the movie The Incubus and in 2006 Biceps of Steel re-surfaced on Bruce Dickinson’s Anthology DVD. The group posted three entries in the UK Singles Chart. These were “Riding With The Angels (1981, No. 54), “Losing My Grip” (1982, No. 63) and “Red Skies (1983, No. 65).
Following Dickinson’s departure, former Hackensack and Tiger vocalist Nicky Moore was recruited to front the band who had also signed a new recording contract with Polydor. Samson’s first release with Moore was the “Losing My Grip” EP in 1982. The title track as well as “Pyramid to the Stars” had originally been cut with Dickinson. Those versions would remain unreleased until they surfaced on the Shock Tactics CD re-release in 2001. Samson issued two albums with Moore, 1982’s Before the Storm and 1984 Don’t Get Even, Get Mad before the group disbanded with Paul Samson carrying on solo. Samson reformed in 1987 and performed until 1991, through various line-up changes. The album Refugee was launched in 1990.
In early nineties, Paul Samson asked New York singer/songwriter Rik Anthony to write lyrics and vocal melodies for Samson’s “reunion” project with Thunderstick and Chris Aylmer. As a collaboration, Anthony wrote and recorded the lyrics and vocal melodies for eight songs while in New York, and in London re-recorded five demos at Picnic Studios. With limited time and budget, the band could only record five demo songs and the project was never completed. The Picnic demos were never picked up by Samson’s record company, and sat idle for almost nine years. Anthony, Paul Samson, Gerry Sherwin and Tony Tuohy played some shows in Germany and the Netherlands under the name Paul Samson’s Rogues, and as Samson whilst opening for Girlschool. After the dates in Europe, Anthony returned to New York. Samson had a new line-up in 1993 and recorded the album Samson.
In 1999, Paul Samson released a CD containing five of the compositions from the Picnic Demos, entitled Past Present & Future. The Samson-Aylmer-Thunderstick line-up reformed for a live show in Tokyo, and in 2000, with Nicky Moore back on board, a series of live dates, including a “25th Anniversary of the NWOBHM” concert at the London Astoria on 26 May 2000, which also featured Angel Witch on the bill. Samson’s performance was recorded and released as a live album. The same line-up later appeared at the Wacken Open Air rock festival on 4 August 2000.
The group effectively disbanded with Paul Samson’s death from cancer on 9 August 2002. Moore paid tribute to his late bandmate at the Sweden Rock Festival on 12 June 2004, with a set entitled “Nicky Moore plays Samson”. Bass player Chris Aylmer born Christopher Robin Aylmer, 7 February 1948 died on 9 January 2007 following a battle with throat cancer and Samson Drummer Clive Burr died on 12 March 2013 after many years suffering from multiple sclerosis.
After leaving Samson, Gaynor joined Scottish rock band Simple Minds in 1982 as a session drummer for the New Gold Dream album (as a recommendation by record producer Pete Walsh), Simple Minds Were formed in Glasgow in 1977 and became the most commercially successful Scottish band of the 1980s. They achieved five UK Albums chart number one albums during their career and have sold an estimated 60 million albums. Despite various personnel changes, they continue to record and tour. The band scored a string of hit singles, becoming best known internationally for their 1985 hit “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” (UK #7, US #1, Canada #1), from the soundtrack of the film The Breakfast Club. Their other more prominent hits include “Alive and Kicking” (UK #7, US #3, Canada #3) and “Belfast Child” (UK #1). In 2016, they received the Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Song Collection from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers, and Authors. The core of the band is the two remaining founding members, Jim Kerr (vocals, songwriting) and Charlie Burchill (guitars, keyboards after 1990, other instruments, songwriting). The other current band members are Ged Grimes (bass guitar), Sarah Brown (vocals), Gordy Goudie (guitar), Cherisse Osei (drums) and Catherine AD (vocals, keyboards, guitar). Former members include bass guitarist Derek Forbes, keyboardists Mick MacNeil and Andy Gillespie, drummers Brian McGee and Mel Gaynor (who first joined the band in 1982).Mel Gaynor later joined the band permanently for the New Gold Dream tour, as a replacement for Mike Ogletree. Except for a period (1992–97) away from the band after the Real Life tour of 1991–92 and remained the Simple Minds drummer until 2017.
In addition to Simple Minds, he has played alongside other acts such as: Elton John, Lou Reed, Tina Turner, Meat Loaf, Samson, Mango, Kirsty MacColl, The Associates, Orange Juice, Peter Gabriel, The Pretenders, Prljavo kazalište, Gary Moore, Jackson Browne, Little Steven, Brian May, The Nolans, Goldie, Robert Palmer, Joan Armatrading and Light of the World. In 2007 Gaynor Embarked on a solo project with a version of play that funky music his latest solo album Was released in 2016 Gaynor’s first single was a re recording of Robert Palmers Addicted to love. Gaynor was also a member of Birmingham-based Muscles, a funk-oriented covers band that had minor chart success with “If it Relaxes Your Mind” and “I’m a Girlwatcher”.
Gaynor has played a variety of drum sets over the years, including and currently Natal drums, and uses Remo drumheads. He has played a variety of cymbals as well, including at first Paiste during at the start of his career, but then switched to Zildjian in the early 1980s upon joining Simple Minds, which he played for much of the duration of his career. He has also endorsed Anatolian, UFIP, and also Meinl cymbals at various other stages in his career, but in 2011, Paiste announced him as an official endorser again, and has remained so to this day. Gaynor has also recently acquired an Italian company to make his signature sticks called Drum Art, and will also be coming out with a signature snare drum from the same company.