Originally from Nanaimo, BC, Steelback was formed in 1977 by highschool friends Rob Gawhtrop on keyboards and guitarist Michael Toth. After a few lineup changes in the first year, the band was settled with bassist Terry Ruth and drummer Dennis Hill.
They played school dances and around town and made their way up the ladder to the Vancouver bar circuit. By ’79 they’d added Darby Mills as singer, but a few months later she left to become the new vocalist for The Headpins. After hooking up with Axis Management, they decided to have a male frontman instead, and recruited Glen Duley. As they continued making their way around the West Coast while covering the top 40, they worked on some original material and won a couple of radio station sponsored battle of the bands contests.
They instead opted to go with Sam Feldman and Associates for management, and became one of the hottest commodities in the area in the process, and some demos got them signed to Handover Records in late ’81. They released their five-track debut EP called FIVE STAR LADY the following spring. Produced by Keith Stein at Mushroom Studios, the record was easily accessible melodic hard rock with underlying keyboards. Predominantly written by Toth with the band, it also contained a cover of Foot In Cold Water‘s “Make Me Do Anything You Want,” as well as the title track, and the lead-off “Spinning Jennies.”
Their fanbase was growing, and although things were looking up, with several dates in the prairies. But they were unable to land a deal with a major label, and disbanded in ’83. Everyone went on to other projects, or got out of the business all together. Gawthrop, Toth, Ruth, and Hill reformed for the first time in nearly 30 years in July, 2012, when they played at the Port Theatre in their hometown of Nanaimo as part of a high school reunion.