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FIRST STRIKE

Country United Kingdom

Style Hard Rock

Towards the end of 1988 ex Samson vocalist and ex Jagged Edge bass player Billy Kulke decided to put a band together. Mick had already been writing songs with an old school friend Gavin Taylor and he was already also onboard on guitar. During a trip up to Newcastle over Christmas Mick went along to see a mates band who had a band called Skintite Savage supporting them. The drummer Dave Anderson was absolutely amazing to watch a real showman so after introducing himself to him after the gig and inviting him down to London at the beginning of January 1989 the first line up of what was to become First Strike was born.

The band very quickly went into the studio to record their first demo with Fastway vocalist Lea Hart producing. Three songs were recorded ‘Nasty’, ‘Always on my Mind’ and ‘Dangerzone’ which showcased the songwriting partnership of Mick and Gav as well as starting to define the sound that First Strike were looking for. A video was shot for ‘Nasty’ and was aired on the Power Hour to much acclaim.

Later in the year after realising that the songs were leaning towards a bigger sound the band brought in another close friend of Micks’ from the North East 18 year old multi instrumentalist Dee Dowling on guitar/keyboards and vocals. First Strike debuted this line up at Southend Cliffs Pavillion by which time they had the amazingly talented and long suffering Dave Shack onboard as manager.

Shortly after the first gig Gav had an offer to play as part of the live band in Mammoth and decided to jump ship. With Marquee gigs booked as well as an Irish tour they had to move quickly to replace him and on a recommendation brought in No Favours guitarist Dave Day who learned the whole set in a couple of days and joined them for their first show at The Marquee supporting Dare.

After the Dare gig Dave Day decided that he didn’t want to do the tour of Ireland. After deciding that Dee was more than capable of taking on the guitar parts on his own they did a warm up gig at The Stick of Rock in Bethnal Green as a four piece which went really well and headed off to Ireland the next morning without Mr Day. After the Dare gig First Strike carried on as a four piece for most of the remainder of their story and this went on to be the golden era of the band.

They did some brilliant support slots at the Marquee with Saraya, Midnight Blue and Giant (who they supported throughout the whole UK tour). They also did some dates with Uriah Heep as well as supporting Shy at The Astoria and Slaughter at The Hippodrome. First Strike started headlining their own shows at The Marquee to very respectable crowds and the buzz around the band really started to gain momentum. Dave Shack managed to get the band a production deal which meant the next studio recordings at J.A.M. studios really took things to another level especially as the studio in Finsbury Park in North London had been used for the Bon Jovi – Born to be my Baby video.

After touring all year as a four piece the band were tight and slick and had a lot of confidence. They also had the benefit of road testing all the material and everyone agreed that Girls of the World was a hit single in the making so that was recorded alongside Down and Dirty which was a ballsey hard rocker co written by Mick and Billy that was a massive live favourite. The third song recorded was the power ballad Hold Tight written by Mick and featuring Dee on the piano and synth as well as all the guitars.

The band decided that any venue good enough for a Bon Jovi video was good enough for First Strike so everything was filmed during the recording sessions and finished off with some live footage at the Marquee. This became the Girls of the World video which was again featured on the Power Hour this time with an interview with Mick and Billy and included a re run of the Nasty video also. The three songs were later included on a projest called ‘All Stars’ put together by Lea Hart and were released initially in Japan.

The band decided to have another try adding a further guitarist and on the recommendation of Lea Hart Dave Senczak was recruited in September 1990 The band went into Maida Vale studios early in 1991 to record four further tracks: Love’s on Fire, Nasty, Just Another Night and Long Way From Home with this line up which were produced by Mick & Billy. This line up also recorded a live video as part of a project called ‘Lucky For Some’ which featured up and coming unsigned bands.

With the onset of Grunge in the early nineties the band started to fragment towards the end of 1991 with Billy and Dave Anderson forming a new band Sole Asylum and Mick and Dee returned to Newcastle upon Tyne where they continued to work on material together. Unsure whether to carry on under the First Strike name or push on with a solo career Mick recruited some fantastic musicians and went into Uncle Sam’s Studios and recorded four tracks: ‘Laydown’, ‘Walks Like a Lady’, ‘Love Aint No Friend’ and ‘She’s Coming Home Again’.

In 2019 Mick and Dee remastered all the First Strike tracks for a release on SteelHeart Records as part of the ‘Lost UK Jewels Collection’. The limited edition CD contains a 16 page colour booklet with liner notes from Rob Evans.

– Just Another Night [2020]

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