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Categories: Hard Rock, Melodic Rock

Biography

A British Pomp Rock band of high repute. GRAND PRIX came to prominence during the NWoBHM era, but purveyed a slicker, AOR tinged melodic Rock that gave the act distinction amongst their more rustic counterparts. GRAND PRIX featured the talents of ex-SAD CAFÉ and PARIS keyboardist Phil Lanzon. The band's debut eponymous album included former DIRTY TRICKS and BLIZZARD OF OZZ drummer Andy Bierne and Canadian ex-LEGEND vocalist Bernie Shaw, in the line-up, who later joined PRAYING MANTIS, STRATUS then URIAH HEEP.

The band toured Europe in early 1981 supporting MANFRED MANN. Recording began shortly after for a second album and only after Shaw had recorded his vocal parts he learned he was dropped in favour of Irishman ROBIN McAULEY formerly with RAW DEAL.

In 1982, following the release of the second album 'There For None To See', which spawned the minor hit single 'Keep On Believing', reaching the heady heights of Number 75 in the British singles chart, GRAND PRIX opened for SAMMY HAGAR on his British tour. This was not before ex UFO and SCORPIONS German guitar genius Michael Schenker had attempted to entice McAuley away for his MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP though. It would be the first but not last attempt.

GRAND PRIX were due to support BLACKFOOT, but instead were dropped by RCA Records. The group did not remain idle and spent the summer demoing and even playing on an East German TV show.

Once back on British soil the band set about their own headlining club tour before getting signed to Chrysalis Records. The resulting album 'Samurai', produced by John Eden, proved more successful than earlier efforts and GRAND PRIX set about promoting it in fine by opening for IRON MAIDEN on their British tour.

However, drummer Andy Bierne departed in late 1983 apparently disillusioned with the band's lack of heaviness on record. He was to turn up later in LIONHEART. As a stop gap measure Clive Edwards, of ELECTRIC SUN and WILD HORSES, was brought in to fill the gap, but GRAND PRIX called it a day in early 1984. Edwards succeeded Bierne in LIONHEART.

McAuley, Lanzon and guitarist Michael O'Donahughe teamed up briefly with ex-MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP bassist Chris Glen and former MOTÖRHEAD drummer Philthy Taylor to form the short lived OPERATOR in 1985 before Lanzon quit to join URIAH HEEP.

McAuley was later to surface with a solo single, a cover of 'Eloise', as vocalist for the Frank Farian produced FAR CORPORATION and later as new vocalist for Michael Schenker's revamped McAULEY SCHENKER GROUP project which achieved a modicum of success in America. Bassist Ralph Hood was to be caught later in Spanish act TARZEN.

Mick O'Donahughe and erstwhile JAGGED EDGE and BRONZ vocalist Ian Baker formed BLUEPRINT and then TAKEN AT THE FLOOD. In October 2006 McAuley, having joined veteran AOR act SURVIVOR as their new frontman earlier that year, vocalised on a cover version of the JOURNEY classic 'Faithfully' featured on the Cleopatra Records homage collection '80s Metal Tribute To Journey'.

McAuley put in a one off performance fronting THE BIG BALL STARS, alongside vocalist / guitarist John Corabi, of MÖTLEY CRÜE, UNION and RATT, drummer Chris Slade, of URIAH HEEP and AC/DC, keyboard player Teddy Zig-Zag, of GUNS 'N ROSES, plus the RATT credited Robbie Crane on bass and Brent Woods from the VINCE NEIL band, in a live set on January 27th 2007 at The Knitting Factory in Hollywood, California.

Rock Candy re-issued the GRAND PRIX debut album, complete with bonus tracks, on CD in September 2009.

Garry Sharpe-Young

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