The news was confirmed by his son Russ Grimmett on Facebook: “We can’t begin to put into words the current feelings. But as dad was so well known the news is starting to reach out earlier than we would have liked. Unfortunately, our dad passed away today and leaves a massive hole in the world and 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 Judas Priest’s Rob Halford as influences.
Grimmett would become the only constant member of the band 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 No 73 in the US Billboard album chart. The group thrived until legal battles with their record label delayed their third album for almost two years, by which time their melodic sound had been usurped commercially by thrash and speed metal. It led to the abandonment of a fourth album and the band’s first disbandment. “The legal stuff hit us while we were writing that album and we just lost faith,” Grimmett said.
During this period, Grimmett would front the groups Onslaught and Lionsheart, and Grim Reaper would find their music being lovingly mocked on episodes of the MTV animation Beavis and Butt-Head.
They reunited in 2006 in response to demand to perform at festivals and 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 hospitalised during a show in Ecuador for an infection in his right leg. Surgery led to a partial amputation. He began to walk again with a prosthetic leg, and the group continued to tour. “I laid in a hospital bed for seven weeks with no entertainment and just half an hour of internet per day,” Grimmett said. “Half that time I spent … talking to my family, and the other 15 minutes a day looking at how the hell I could get back up on that stage to do what I do for the fans. It drove me mad that I just didn’t have more time than that, but that was the driving force that kept me going.”
They released another album, At the Gates, in 2019. “It’s about me very nearly dying when I lost my leg in Ecuador,” Grimmett told Metal Temple. He said he had been suffering with PTSD and depression.
In January 2022, Grimmett said that the band were working on new material. In a May 2022 interview, Grimmett said he had no regrets “whatsoever” despite being penniless.
“I’m on welfare at the moment because of Covid, and a lot of people do think that I am a millionaire, but I can tell you now, I’m not. I’ve never received a penny – not one penny – from Grim Reaper, so that says it all, doesn’t it? But still, no regrets. I still love getting up there and playing. I still love watching the smiling faces in front of me. That says it all and does it all for me.”