They were discovered after winning a Battle of the Bands featuring over 100 bands. They were eventually signed to Darryl Johnston's Ebony Records, and their debut album was See You in Hell. The album was released in 1984 and was distributed worldwide through RCA Records.
Grim Reaper soon became readily identifiable with Bowcott's guitar work and lead vocalist Steve Grimmett's head voice vocals. Their successful world tour included a support show at Texxas Jam playing to over 20,000 people. Their 1985 follow-up, Fear No Evil, showed improvement on the production front and also enjoyed moderate success in both the United States and Europe.
Legal battles with Ebony Records delayed the release of the band's third album Rock You to Hell by almost two years. The album was released directly through RCA Records in 1987. However, by this time Grim Reaper's melodic Heavy metal sound had fallen out of favor as much of the metal market moved toward heavier fare like thrash metal and speed metal. Even the major label distribution and popular video for the title track could not save the band. With the production of their fourth studio album (reportedly to be called Nothing Whatsoever to Do with Hell) about to start, another round of legal action from Ebony Records effectively dealt the death blow to Grim Reaper, subsequently disbanding in 1988.
Grimmett went on to front Onslaught and Lionsheart, as well as perform on several tribute albums. Bowcott became a freelance music writer, and later staff contributor, for publications like Circus and Guitar World. Bowcott also worked with Marshall Amplification's United States division. He also played in the band Barfly who recorded an album with Jack Ponti producing and Michael Wagener mixing for RCA records.
In 2006, Eddie Trunk announced on Metal Mania that the band has reformed. The "original" lineup of Grim Reaper (without Nick Bowcott) played the Keep It True VI festival in Lauda-Königshoffen on 8 April 2006. The band played the annual MetalBrew festival in London's Mill Hill on Saturday 18 July 2009. Later they were scheduled to play at the Play it Loud IV in Bologna, Italy, in September 2009. The festival was then cancelled when the promoter forfeited, but the band (urged on by a crowd of fans who had already bought tickets) managed to play the date along with a number of originally billed acts (as a single-day event instead of a weekend-spanning one).
The band made a successful appearance at the British Steel festival in Bolognia Italy in November 2010 at the Estragon venue on a bill that included other classic bands of the NWoBHM era - Diamond Head, Girlschool, Demon and Angelwitch. They also played at the Academy Birmingham with the band Jameson Raid.
The current line-up continues to tour the UK and Europe. They did a short tour of Greece and Cyprus in November 2011 and released the Limited Edition "Live in Europe 2011". Festival appearances in 2012 included Sweden's "Muskelrock" and headlining Germany's Sword Brothers.
In spring 2013, Steve Grimmett's Grim Reaper will be recording a new studio album, their first since 1987, for release later in the year. The band are confirmed as headliners of this year's British Steel festival in London in June and co-headliners of Belgium's Heavy Sound Festival in November with Tokyo Blade. More European Festivals and a US tour are planned for 2013.
In April 2014, Grim Reaper played their first show in the US since 1987, joined by original guitarist Nick Bowcott, and featured several tracks from the forthcoming album, From Hell.
In 2016, the band toured North America in support of their album "Return of the Reaper". Shortly after, while on tour in a foreign country, Steve Grimmett lost his leg due to an infection. Surviving the ordeal, the metal scene united in support of his courage and triumph in pulling through the operation.