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Tobruk (1981-1987): a Hard Rock band from Birmingham, UK.


he second version of Tobruk was founded in 1981 by Stuart "Snake" Neale (who died in 1986; vocals), Nigel Evans (guitar), Jem Davies (keyboards; ex-Stranger), Mick Newman (guitar), Steve (Woody) Woodward (bass) and Alan Vallance (drums). The act had already released a single in Ireland under original members Newman, Woodward, Vallance (previously Chris Thomas on drums), Nick Petty (guitar) and Terry (vocals). The band would arrive during the end of the high period of the new wave of British heavy metal movement.

After relocating to Birmingham they toured heavily. A resulting demo brought them exposure on the Friday rock Show in 1982. Nwobhm label 'Neat' released their debut single Wild on the Run (1983). Woodward who was also the main songwriter, left the band in 1983 after a tour with Diamond Head at a time when 'EMI' was beginning to show interest. Eddie Fincher (drums) and Mike Brown (bass) then joined; Vallance, for his part, went on to perform part-time in Sons of Eden and Proteus. Woodward went on to play guitar and vocals for Three Chord Trick.

The band's performance at Birmingham Odeon, that had been rigged with expensive lights and sound with invitations for various talent scouts, led the band to sign a deal to the 'EMI' subsidiary label 'Parlophone' to release their debut album, Wild on the Run (1985). The album was followed by supporting tours with U.F.O., Tokyo Blade and Manowar.

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The band's 1985 single Falling offered them some airplay. The 7" single also featured a prize draw competition for a parachute jump with the band at Bovingdon Green Airfield in Buckinghamshire, UK. The winner was 23-year-old John Michael Dunn, a rock DJ on radio in Northwest England. Despite this minor hit and the competition stunt, the band could not break in the UK; critics complaining that they sounded too 'American', subsequently the band left 'Parlophone' in 1987. By this time, however, the band started falling apart with Snake and Fincher leaving the band to join Idol Rich. Tobruk tried to record some demos with ex-The Alliance vocalist, Tony Martin, but nothing came of it and the band finally split; Martin going on to join Black Sabbath, while Nigel spent some time touring with Shy.

Tobruk started as a NWOBHM band that had missed the movement and had by this time settled down to a more melodic metal style as seen on their final effort In Motion (1986), a recording that never surfaced until after the band had finally split, arriving in 1988 as Pleasure + Pain (1987) on the 'FM Revolver' label.

'Phoenix Music' re-issued a Tobruk retrospective in 2001 with rare tracks and video footage, called Recaptured. 'Rip Tide Records' also re-released Wild on the Run on CD that same year.

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