At the age of 24, Chrissy Steele (real name Christina Southern) was already a veteran of the British Columbia bar scene with her bands Room Service and Reform School when she was asked to join The Headpins in late 1989, following the departure of Darby Mills.
Along with Brian MacLeod on guitars, they did two tours over the next six months, one with The Pins' Bernie Aubin, one with Loverboy's Matt Frennette on drums, and bassist Danny Latham and Matteo Carratozolo on keyboards. But tragedy struck the rock world when MacLeod was diagnosed with cancer in 1992. Amidst the turmoil of this and growing unrest with their label Solid Gold, it was decided the album already in the works should be released as Chrissy's debut solo album, rather than an actual 'Headpins' record.
Despite his medical condition, MacLeod still managed to put his indelible mark on the project, when Chrysalis released MAGNET TO STEELE in the summer of '91. As well as playing all guitars and bass, background vocals, and producing the album, he shared engineering and programming duties with Matteo Caratazollo (Headpins touring keyboardist) and Edmonton native Tim Feehan.
The actual recording was done earlier that year in MacLeod's boat and in a mobile unit while touring the pacific coast. With
MacLeod and Feehan doing the bulk of the writing, the album captured the essence of the new wave of west coast scene, and also featured Pat Taylor on drums. But backed by the singles "Love You Til It Hurts" and "Love Don't Last Forever", the radio stations were playing what would turn out to be MacLeod's final recording project, as he succmbed to his bout with cancer later that year.
The record also featured cameos by vocalist Mark Slaughter, who'd gained notiriety in the metal circuit with Slaughter and The Vinnie Vincent Invasion, and Aubin, Dave Allen, and Scott Adair on drums. Other heavy hitters included "Cry Myself To Sleep" (written by Mutt Lange), as well as "Two Lips", penned by MacLeod with Mike Reno and
Scott Smith of Loverboy.
Videos for both "Love You Til It Hurts" and "Love Don't Last Forever" were shot in Hollywood and released before Christmas that year, which by this time had also seen Steele put together a touring band to help promote the record. Received well by both critic and fan alike, her passion and energy shone through on "Two Bodies," as well as the rocking "Armed and Dangerous", which MacLeod co-wrote with Jeff Paris.
She formed a touring band that consisted of Joe Wowk (ex of
Guy Jones Band) on guitars, drummer Rick Fedyk, bassist Tony Vogt, and Tim Webster on keyboards, and set out on the road that took them throughout North America. A highlight of the tour was opening for Jethro Tull, and in the summer of '91 both bands were awarded the key to the city in Providence, Rhode Island.
Support from Chrysalis waned however early the next year and she was dropped from the label. She continued to tour into the early part of '92, but decided to pack it in shortly thereafter. Though she continued to occasionally tour for the next few years and made a guest appearance on Tim Feehan's 1996 release PRAY FOR RAIN, she wound up working in the computer programming field in Victoria, BC.
One of Canadian rock's lesser-known but craziest rumours surfaced long after her leaving the music business, when it was believed Chrissy was actually
Darby Mills under a pseudonym. Presumably this is in part due to the two rockers' voices and styles so closely resembling each other's, and their joint association with The Headpins. Though I've never actually seen both women in the same room together, I can assure you this is just plain ridiculous. Chrissy ventured off to do other projects, but stayed in the limelight occasionally doing the bar circuit and outdoor festivals.
MAGNET TO STEELE (1991)
Love You Til It Hurts
Armed and Dangerous
Love Don't Last Forever
Murder In the First Degree
Kin of Hearts
Magnet To Steel
Two Lips (Don't Make a Kiss)
Cry Myself To Sleep