Interview: Iron Maiden's Adrian Smith and Dave Murray in Their First Guitar World Feature from 1983
Over a ten-month period on the road, Maiden played 179 concerts on four continents, playing to well over a million people in sixteen countries, traveling over 35,000 miles by air and 60,000 miles by road. There were twenty sell-out UK dates, including Hammersmith Odeon, and the album went straight to Number One in England. It also did very well in the USA and the band toured there mainly as special guests in the big halls, playing with Judas Priest, Rainbow, .38 Special and the Scorpions. In Anaheim, 75,000 people saw them on a bill with Foreigner, Loverboy and the Scorps.
On returning home to England, the band headlined at the Reading Festival (where they had been many times previously as fans) and were presented with two platinum, seven gold and one silver disk for The Number of the Beast, which has sold over two million copies worldwide.
1983 was kicked off with work on the fourth album, Piece of Mind at Compass Point Studios in Nassau with producer Martin Birch again at the controls. The album came out in May and the "World Piece Tour" opened in England the same month. From there, it was four months headlining in the States and then back to Europe in the fall for shows in France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Switzerland, Yugoslavia and Greece.
In writing about the tour's Long Beach stop, the Los Angeles Times said: "Iron Maiden made a typically bombastic stage entrance and immediately launched into its ferocious attack with Dave Murray and Adrian Smith's mean, speedy guitar work leading the way."
So these guys, Murray and Smith, were going to be ferocious and mean, eh? All that devil-worship stuff, all that loud and proud marketing from the multitude of mimetic metalmongers ...
Wrong, sulphur-breath! Messrs. Murray and Smith in person prove to be surprisingly genteel and refined, soft-spoken and easygoing, concerned about nothing more than making consistently good music.
We met backstage and they offered me a beer while they had tea. No bat-wing soup. Dave Murray, the blond one now twenty-six, began playing when he was fifteen largely because of the impact of a Jimi Hendrix tune on the radio.
"I think it was 'Voodoo Chile.' I was totally impressed by it and I liked music anyway, so I went out and bought a cheap guitar. It was a guitar from Woolworth's called a Top Twenty. Cost about thirty dollars. The action was about two inches off the fretboard. But it was a start. I took lessons for a couple of weeks, but the teacher sort of packed it in. He gave up teaching, but I don't think it was because of me. I kept practicing and in about a year, I got in a band with a few friends. In fact, it was me and Adrian. We started off playing together."
Dave has come up in the world since his Top Twenty days.
"The guitar I use mainly now is a '57 Stratocaster (the guitars in the pictures were rented for the shoot because the band's equipment was on the way to Tucson). I've got two DiMarzio pickups on it, a Super Distortion at the bridge and a PAF at the neck. The PAF's got a smoother, creamier sound. The Strat is my favorite, but I also have a Les Paul which I use occasionally, and I just picked up a 1961 SG Les Paul with all the original parts."
The guitarist's amplifier setup is the Heavy Metal standard, four fifty-watt Marshalls with Marshall cabinets. "One cab's got EV speakers in it, which are miked-up for the out-front sound. And the others have Celestions, which are a bit more dirty. For effects, I have a board that was designed by Pete Cornish in London. It has a CryBaby wah-wah pedal, MXR Distortion Plus, Phase 90 phase shifter, an FET Power booster to overdrive the amps and a graphic equalizer that I leave on all the time."
Adrian Smith also started out on a Top Twenty guitar. "You get them in department stores, next to the washing machines. Now I've got a number of guitars, but I just mainly use two, the SG Standard and an Ibanez Destroyer with stock parts. For effects, I use an Ibanez Tube Screamer, a Micro Amp for power boost on the solos, a flange and a Boss Chorus. I used to have a lot more, but I whittled it down because I just didn't need it all."
Both players favor Dean Markley strings in the .09-.11-.15-.4-.32-.40 range. And oddly enough for such fast players, both claim Paul Kossoff of Free as a major influence.
Murray: "He had so much feeling. He wasn't very fast, but there was so much soul in his playing."
When asked if the twin-lead situation caused any "dueling guitars" jealousies, both Murray and Smith answered with a resounding "No!" In fact, each finds the presence of the other encouraging and inspiring.