You are here

Interview: Iron Maiden's Adrian Smith and Dave Murray in Their First Guitar World Feature from 1983

Interview: Iron Maiden's Adrian Smith and Dave Murray in Their First Guitar World Feature from 1983

This Iron Maiden feature is from the November 1983 issue of Guitar World magazine. The story by Tim Bradley recounts the history of the band through 1983, then catches up with guitarists Adrian Smith and Dave Murray, who discuss their latest album, Piece of Mind.

The original story ran with the headline "Iron Maiden: The Men Behind the Metal Mask" and started on page 48. Pete Townshend was on the cover. Click here to see a complete photo gallery of Guitar World covers from 1983.

Adrian Smith and Dave Murray have been accused of pre-meditated ghoulishness. But they're just two devilishly fast guitar players.

Something mysterious happens to Iron Maiden's tour bus whenever they come to Long Beach. Last year, it had a flat tire and the jack used to raise it punctured the brake line.

This year the transmission acted up and wouldn't go into first or reverse. Then, at John Livzey's photo studio, an important Polaroid everyone had seen in one moment could not be found a moment later.

And what about those stories of tape machines stopping and starting on their own during recording sessions? Ooo-eee-ooo ...

Maybe Arkansas Representative Jack McCoy is onto something. He introduced legislation that would require albums supposedly containing Satanic messages to be labeled with warning stickers, like cigarettes and saccharin.

His bill, number 336 (not 666!), has been tabled for now, but it'll probably turn up again next session.

Is Bill 336 the real McCoy? Are dark forces at work? More than any other band, Iron Maiden has come under fire (so to speak) for making demonic music laced with hellish images of death and doom. Album cover and inner-sleeve art concentrate on ghoulish themes, skulls and dark gothic mansions, and the stage show features a ten-foot rotting corpse named Eddie, formerly Ed the Head, and an illuminated brain the size of a Toyota.

Maiden members do nothing to discourage all the fuss, adopting a, shall we say, devil-may-care attitude and pointing to the humor of it all. The liner notes for the latest LP, Piece of Mind, thank authors Alistair Maclean, Frank Herbert and G.K. Chesterton for their inspiration, and call the fans "Headbangers, Earthdogs, Hell Rats and Rivetheads." The group is pictured preparing to lunch on what can only be called brain under glass.

Iron Maiden was founded in 1975 by bassist Steve Harris (right, he's the Maiden head), who took the name from the medieval torture he saw in the film The Man in the Iron Mask. Harris recruited guitarist Dave Murray from a local band called the Secret and went to work.

Between 1976 and 1979, various incarnations of Iron Maiden were gigging around the clubs of London's East End. It was a difficult time for heavy metal, which at the time was being viewed as dinosaur music purveyed by aging groups in their death throes. Punk was the new thing and no one was buying metal.

In 1979, Maiden was a quartet consisting of singer Paul DiAnno, Harris, Murray and drummer Doug Sampson. In November of that year, they put together a few pounds and went into the studio to record. The resulting demo, called The Soundhouse Tapes, was released on the band's own mail-order label, Rock Hard Records.

The collector's item EP contained three songs, "Invasion," "Iron Maiden" and "Prowler," and sold five thousand copies by word-of-mouth in ten days.

At roughly the same time, heavy metal music was beginning its renaissance. Geoff Barton (called Deaf Barton by some) got his fifteen minutes of fame by coining the phrase "New Wave of British Heavy Metal" in the British music mag Sounds.

Clubs and labels began to take note as the scent of filthy lucre wafted into formerly pinched nostrils. The media caught on and soon everyone knew what the initials NWOBHM stood for. The record companies lined up.

In December 1979, EMI called and signed the group to a long-term worldwide agreement, from demo to deal in about a month. A second guitarist, Tony Parsons, was added to flesh out the live sound. Three months later, he was replaced by Dennis Stratton. Drummer Doug Sampson left the band for health reasons and was replaced by Clive Burr. The new lineup headed for the studio.

On April 14, 1980, Iron Maiden was released to tumultuous critical and popular acclaim. A British tour with Judas Priest, a European tour with Kiss and the group's first full-scale assault on the UK followed.

So did more personnel changes. Stratton left the band to start his own group, Lionheart, and was replaced by Murray's neighbor and schoolmate, Adrian Smith. Clive Burr's successor to the drum throne was Nicko McBrain, who had worked with Pat Travers, Streetwalkers and a French band called Trust.

Maiden's second LP, Killers, was released in 1981 and the band's success story began to take on global dimensions. Their first world tour took them to fifteen countries over an eight-month period, covering the UK, Europe and for the first time, the USA, Canada and Japan. The Japanese concerts were recorded and four of the tracks were released on a mini-album, Maiden Japan, in October 1981.

At the end of the North American tour, vocalist Bruce Dickinson came over from the group Samson to take the place of DiAnno, whose voice wasn't holding up. DiAnno later signed on with a group called Lonewolf.

IM's third album, The Number of the Beast, produced by Martin Birch (Deep Purple, Rainbow, Sabbath), was released in March 1982, and the band embarked on its second world tour, one of the biggest international tours ever undertaken by a rock band.

Pages



Applying Modes to Improvised Guitar Solo Ideas, Part 1