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Like many of their New Wave of British Heavy Metal peers, Jaguar flourished during the early stages of the movement thanks to their gritty, do-it-yourself philosophy. But when the style's initial momentum began to dwindle, leaving only a few enduring acts like Iron Maiden and Def Leppard still standing, Jaguar quickly faded into obscurity. Formed in Bristol, England, in 1979, Jaguar originally featured singer Rob Reiss, guitarist Garry Pepperd, bassist Jeff Cox, and drummer Chris Lovell. After a series of demos in 1980, the band signed with Heavy Metal Records, which featured the track "Stormchild" in its September 1981 Heavy Metal Heroes compilation, then issued their debut single, "Back Street Woman," that November. Introducing the band's "everything loud, fast, and raw" philosophy, the single was a respectable hit in underground metal circles, and earned them a small but loyal following in Holland, of all places. The arrival of new singer Paul Merrell in early 1982 and a new deal with NWOBHM flag-bearer Neat Records seemed to bode well for Jaguar's future, and following another single (the very Maiden-ish, Kerrang! magazine favorite "Axe Crazy"), their full-length debut, Power Games, emerged in May 1983. A solid first outing (they'd had plenty of time to practice, after all) the thrash-intensive record barely made in a dent in the U.K. charts, but in Europe, where the band toured extensively, their popularity continued to skyrocket. A deal with then brand-new Roadrunner Records preceded 1984's This Time LP, but it -- to most everyone's surprise -- saw an about-face toward a more mainstream, AOR sound. Needless to say, their fans were quite displeased and the band rapidly fell out of favor, choosing to go their separate ways soon after. Years went by and Jaguar, like many NWOBHM also-rans, were understandably forgotten by all but the most rabid collectors. But when the late '90s saw a small upsurge of interest in the movement, Jaguar were among the bands that quickly moved to cash in on the belated shot at greater fame. A new lineup featuring founders Pepperd and Cox along with new members Jamie Manton (vocals) and Nathan Cox (drums) signed a new deal with the similarly reborn Neat Records, and soon came up with a modern heavy metal album bearing distinct NWOBHM sensibilities in 2000's Wake Me. Encouraged by the album's success in certain quarters, Jaguar embarked on the odd tour and eventually even recorded a 2003 follow-up (with new bassist Darren Furze) named Run Ragged. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia

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1979 in Bristol, England

Years Active:

'70s, '80s