Life is what happens when you are making other plans~ John Lennon
An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind~Gandhi
The time is always right to do what is right~ Martin Luther King Jr.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Run to the Hills: Iron Maiden, The Authorized Biography by Mick Wall

If you're a big "Up the Irons" fan, and love listening to Maiden, this is the book you need to read! This book is a biography on the band where the various band members, both past and present, managers, staff members and others weigh in on what made this band stand out from the rest. Each chapter talks to a band member or about a band member, managers, producers, etc.
Also, despite the fact that each chapter covers a different band member or person who worked with the band, the chapters still tell the story of how Iron Maiden came to be, such as what album was being done at that time, what tour was being done, etc.

Steve Harris
-Birth name: Stephen Percy Harris
-DOB: 3/12/1956
-Where: Leytonstone, London, England
-Spouse: Lorraine Harris, Emma Harris
-Kids: Lauren, Kerry, Faye, George, Maisie, Stanley
-This is, not shockingly, the first chapter in the book. This chapter is all about the founding member of Maiden-Steve Harris. Each chapter is like a biography within a biography, in the sense that each chapter tells about that particular album, band member or event at that particular time. With Steve, he grew up the oldest of four kids and the only boy, so, in his words, "I grew up in a house surrounded by women".

Steve Harris and partner Emma Harris

Also, drums were the instrument he originally had his eye on. But growing up in the East End, houses tended to be small and he had nowhere to put them. So he switched to bass, but needed to learn how to play a guitar first. After two unsuccessful stints in local bands called Gypsy's Kiss and Smiler, he decided to form his own band, one that would play his heavy-on-time-changes music, heavily progressive rock influenced. Shockingly, the first thing that Steve Harris was passionate about was football (soccer). He became a fan of West Ham after he and a friend went to a West Ham game when they were nine. His father was a strong Leyton Orient supporter. After that, Steve trained hard to become a footballer, but sadly discovered there was a lot of hard work that went along with it. He says that he enjoyed playing soccer for fun and nowadays, he and some of the Maiden crew gear up in soccer gear and play a friendly game of soccer in the downtime from touring, a team called Maiden FC.

Lauren Harris

George Harris

He talks about the early versions of Iron Maiden and how when he hired Dave Murray, he discovered this guy was a miracle-not only was he a good guitarist, but he had something that not very many rockstars today have- a kind, gentle charm, very quiet personality, a strong sense of teamwork and best of all, no ego!! Unfortunately after a fallout with then singer Dennis Wilcock, Steve was forced to let go of his miracle guitar player and singer and for the six months that Steve broke up Iron Maiden, Dave or "Davey" as he's often known by, went to join his best friend Adrian Smith's band Urchin. After a while, Steve called back Davey and he returned in a heartbeat, but was always worried he'd be fired, so he kept his mouth shut and plowed on
Dave Murray
-Birth name: David Michael Murray
-DOB: 12/23/1956
-Where: Edmonton, London, England
-Spouse: Tamar Murray
-Kids: Tasha Murray
-This guy is like the model of what guitar players should be-kind, gentle, quiet personality, no ego, none of this "I'm-a-rockstar-and-I'm-better-than-you" crap with him. The only time he abandoned his quiet personality was in the 1990s, after Bruce left. The departure of their singer left a bitter taste in everyone's mouth and a sour mood over their heads. It was Dave who finally stood up and said something to the effect of "Why should we quit just because he did? We'll find another singer." He was quite angry and this shocked everyone, including Steve, because in all the years they had known Dave, they never knew him to raise his voice or be angry. This gave everyone, including bassist Steve Harris, who was under a lot of strain from singer departing to going through a nasty divorce, a sudden boom of energy and positivity. They all cheered and starting getting down to work finding a new vocalist. After getting the boot from early Iron Maiden because of a miscommunication between him, then singer Dennis Wilcock and drummer Doug Sampson, Dave was let go, only to join his friend Adrian Smith's band Urchin for six months. Dave grew up with a younger sister named Janet and an older sister named Pauline. He says that he finds it weird that Iron Maiden posters are hanging in the classrooms of his sister Pauline's school when fans find out that their teacher's older brother is the guitarist in the band.
Dave Murray and wife Tamar


Proud father Dave and daughter Tasha
He grew up poor and his mother worked various cleaning jobs while his father was sidelined by a debilitating disease. Growing up poor, they moved around a lot, staying in Salvation Army shelters to avoid his dad's nasty moods. He says he had to have attended at least ten schools by the time he was 14. Also, he was constantly labeled with the label "new kid" and forced into defending himself. He learned to box as a way of defense. Like Steve, football was Dave's first love. He played sports like Steve, cricket and football. He also had a short stint as a skinhead, wearing all the required gear-Doc Marten boots, skinny jeans and the crop top hair do. He didn't like the violence that went along with it so he did a 360 and became a hippie. He started listening to Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Free, etc. and growing his hair long. He also started playing the guitar and became the envy of people he knew at school. He said that when he made a bit of money playing music, he wanted to buy his parents a nice house so they wouldn't have to move around anymore. He didn't know how long it would last, but he said he would be able to rest assured knowing he did something nice for them. Suffice to say, his mother is still living in that house.
Paul Di'Anno
-Birth name: Paul Andrews
-DOB: 5/17/1958
-Where: Chingford, London, England
-He grew up heavily influenced by punk-The Clash, The Sex Pistols, The Stranglers, etc. When he joined the band, his raspy vocals lent a punk edge to the music, making it almost punk metal. He grew up in Chingford, in London, with a group of about ten kids from both of his mother's marriages. He was the oldest child and he says that it's been said the oldest children are always the most mad. Outside of Iron Maiden, he has a band called Battlezone
Dennis Stratton & Clive Burr
-Birth name: Dennis William Stratton
-DOB: 10/9/1952
-Where: Canning Town, London, Enaldn
-Birth name: Clive Burr
-DOB: 3/8/1957
-Where: East Ham, London, England
-DOD: 3/12/2013
-Where: London, England (multiple sclerosis)
-These chapters cover these two members. Dennis Stratton was a short-lived guitarist in Iron Maiden. Unlike the rest of the guys, who were into progressive rock and metal, Dennis was more into bands like The Doobie Brothers, The Eagles, 10cc and others. He made the terrible mistake of taking Steve's song "Phantom of the Opera" and turning it into something that sounded like Queen would make. Instead of the so-called "blood and thunder epic" Steve had made "Phantom of the Opera" as, Dennis tweaked it and Steve described the new tweaked version as "Bohemian Rhapsody gone bad". He was furious!
-Clive Burr was the drummer for the band, from 1980, when they made their debut album, Iron Maiden, all the way through 1982, The Number of the Beast. By then, Clive seemed to be getting more partying in than focusing on the gigs at hand. Prior to joining Maiden, Clive had drummed with Samson, a hard rock band briefly competing with Iron Maiden for gigs. When Burr left Samson to join Maiden, the then drummer for Maiden, Barry Purkis, going by the ridiculous moniker Thunderstick, took up the drum seat in Samson.
Rod Smallwood & Andy Taylor
-Birth name: Roderick Charles Smallwood
-DOB: 2/17/1950
-Where: Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England
-Birth name: Andy Taylor
-DOB: 2/11/1950
-Where: Newcastle, England
-Both Rod and Andy have a lot in common. They both attended Trinity University at Cambridge, Rod one year ahead of Andy, they both have policemen as fathers. The only differences between them is that Rod is more band shirt, jeans, gymshoes and leather jacket while Andy looks more like the type of guy to find working in an office in a London bank rather than working with a metal band. But when they come together, their minds work as one. Rod handles the front of shop stuff while Andy typically handles the finances, even though Rod is also the type to worry over finances just as much as Andy would. Rod had gone into managing bands while in college, but after a particularly bad experience managing Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel, he was completely against managing a band ever again. Until he met Iron Maiden. After becoming the manager of Iron Maiden, he was able to, along with the help of his business partner Andy Taylor, make Maiden one of the biggest bands in metal. In 1979, after breaking off with Steve Harley, he attended university to get a degree in law when he first received a demo tape of Iron Maiden, which convinced him to go back into music management
Rod Smallwood

Andy Taylor

Bruce Dickinson
-Birth name: Paul Bruce Dickinson
-DOB: 8/7/1958
-Where: Worksop, Nottinghamshire, England
-Spouse: Jane Dickinson (1983-1987), Paddy Bowden (1990-present)
-Kids: Kia Dickinson, Austin Dickinson, Griffin Dickinson
-Born Paul Bruce Dickinson, he was born in the mining town of Worksop, in Nottinghamshire, essentially Robin Hood country. His parents, Bruce Dickinson Sr and Sonia Hartley-Dickinson were just 16 and 17 when they gave birth to Bruce. They were virtually penniless and sent the young child to live with his maternal grandparents. His grandmother hated him from the word go, because she said he reminded her of his father and the reason her daughter was taken away. Six years after Bruce was born, along comes his sister, Helen. He feels completely estranged from his sister because he says that she was a planned birth while he felt like an outsider who didn't belong.


The guy holding his hands is Griffin Dickinson and this is the band Cytota

Kia Dickinson and father

Austin Dickinson of As Lions

He went to a variety of schools, such as Manor Top Primary, Sharrow Vale Junior, and finally Oundle. It was there that he started developing an interest in military history, which he put to good use on the bullies. He was heavily bullied and his grandfather taught him to never take crap from anyone. Stand up for yourself. When he taught young Bruce about self defense, he also had to teach Bruce when to hit and when not to hit because he went around school, decking everyone. What inspired him to go into music, however, was hearing "Child in Time" by Deep Purple filtering out of a student's room. Originally, he wanted to play drums. But, having no room to put them, he started with bongos. Once, he heard a student attempting to sing "Let It Be" by the Beatles and was struggling badly. He stepped in to bolster this classmate's voice and when he sang, he quickly discovered he had a unique voice. Not only could he hit high notes, but every note in between. He attended Queen Mary University in London, which satisfied his parents with him getting an education, but also confused them because he had never been to the city before. It was there he attempted to get a career in music going. He went through several bands-Shots, Styx, Speed and finally Samson. He landed in the band as the front man.
Bruce Dickinson and wife Paddy Bowden
-Standing for the "New Wave of British Heavy Metal", this ridiculous moniker was coined to a time during the late 1970s and early 1980s when Britain seen a large boom in hard rock and heavy metal bands or bands perceived to be hard rock and heavy metal coming out of Britain. The band that seemed to lead the pack was Iron Maiden. Chasing fast on their heels, however, was Samson, a blend of hard rock and blues rock and Def Leppard, a teenaged five-man band from the northern steel mill town of Sheffield. Since things with then singer Paul Di'Anno were going south, the band needed a new singer. And fast.
Iron Maiden, 1979


Def Leppard, 1979
While at the Reading Festival one year, Steve Harris and Rod Smallwood went to see Samson's set. They were impressed by the vocal acrobatics of their singer, Bruce Dickinson, who had been, unfortunately, given the nickname "Bruce Bruce", mirroring an old Monty Python sketch and resulting from a miscommunication. They had Bruce audition at the festival and then had another audition at a studio in London. Right at the start, Bruce said "I don't want to do what the other guy did. If that's the direction you want, you may as well find another singer." They had him sing a song or two and when he came down to the studio and sang, it was like something had clicked. Rod booked some time in the studio for the new band, because he suspected Maiden had just found their new singer. As for the other bands, some of those bands didn't last, like Ethel the Frog, Wytchfinde. But some of those bands hit a rough patch and still came out of that era unscathed, still performing today, like Diamond Head, Tygers of Pan Tang, Saxon, Motorhead (the band might not be around anymore, but their music still is), Angel Witch, Venom, Girlschool (a basic female Motorhead), Raven, Praying Mantis

Angel Witch
Diamond Head
Girlschool (Think Motorhead only female)

Tygers of Pan Tang



-This monstrous creation was created by Derek Riggs. The only album he didn't create the cover for was 1992's Fear of the Dark. That macabre cover was created by an unknown artist named Melvyn Grant, who designed the band's mascot as a tree-dwelling, Nosferatu-type creature. This lovable member of the band has graced everything the band has ever put out, from hats to keychains, to t-shirts to album covers and more. He's essentially part of the band and there is usually no bigger thrill than when "Eddie" makes his appearance on stage, dressed in a way related to the theme of that album, whether it be as an Egyptian pharaoh overlooking his kingdom on Powerslave, a tortured soul after a session in the electric chair on The X Factor, a Mayan warrior on The Book of Souls. It's down to one thing-Eddie is and will forever be a part of Iron Maiden
"The Book of Souls" Eddie

"Aces High" Eddie

"Somewhere in Time" Eddie

"Fear of the Dark" Eddie
Blaze Bayley
-Birth name: Bayley Cook
-DOB: 5/29/1963
-Where: Birmingham, England
-He had originally started out in a group called Child's Play, but then moved on to a band called Wolfsbane, a punk-metal band based in his hometown of Birmingham. Wolfsbane had actually supported Maiden on a few dates of their 1992-1993 Fear on the Road tour, supporting their 1992 Fear of the Dark album. Steve said he thought that Blaze had a great voice. At first, worries about his party-hard nature came into question and the one who brought that up was Mr. Excess himself, Nicko McBrain. Blaze grew up in Birmingham, England and grew up in a home that wasn't complete, since he hates using the term "broken home". He shot to success with Wolfsbane and when he sent in an audition tape of his singing to Maiden, Nicko thought "That's Iron Maiden right there!" He thought Blaze's voice was perfect. It is unknown to this day why he goes by Blaze. He just said that when he first got into music, everyone came up with stupid nicknames, because it was the era of glam rock. People always thought that his first name, Bayley, was actually his last and someone just gave him the nickname Blaze, so it became "Blaze Bayley". He said he even calls himself that. He would go on to make two albums with Maiden-1995's The X Factor and 1998's Virtual XI. In late 1999, plans were being made to bring Bruce back, along with Adrian.

Most sites about Blaze will say that he was kicked out. Read this book and get the real story. He was kindly let go because he was having continual voice problems, most likely from the strain of having to sing for Maiden frequently. He says singing for Maiden is hard and that unlike a guitar, bass or drums, he can't simply unstrap his voice and put it in a box at night. So he was kindly let go because of this, nothing bad. But just because of his voice going out a lot. But Steve and the guys say that he was amazing, that he gave it his all every night and they were thankful for him. Blaze figured Bruce would come back. A lot of music critics blast the two Blaze-era albums for their dark, adult-oriented, almost X-rated content. But one only has to understand the goings on at the time. During the making of The X Factor, Steve was going through a nasty divorce from his high school sweetheart Lorraine and was now taking care of his four children-Lauren, Kerry, Faye and George. Not only that, but the singer in the band he's had a tight control of for over 10 years just leaves. That's a lot of stress. Thankfully, Steve's second-in-command, Dave Murray gave him the strength to go on. Dave just up and said, one day at a Bruce-less rehearsal, something to the effect of "Why should we quit just because he quit? Bollocks to him! We're not quitting just because he did. We'll just find a new singer!" This luckily gave everyone the get up and go to move on. Blaze says that he is, to this day, still on very good terms with Maiden because when he left, he said something to the effect of "I won't badmouth you in the press the way Bruce did." Blaze was actually thankful for his time in Maiden because it helped him develop leadership skills, songwriting skills and now Blaze is a highly successful musician in his own right, with his own solo band, and they usually have a habit of breaking into Maiden songs, both from his time with them and Bruce-era and Paul Di'Anno-era.

Blaze now. Time has not been kind

Adrian Smith
-Birth name: Adrian Frederick Smith
-DOB: 2/27/1957
-Where: Hackney, London, England
-Spouse: Natalie Dufresne-Smith
-Kids: Dylan, Natasha, Brittany
-He was one of the later-to-join members of the band. He joined right after Dennis Stratton had been booted from the band. He knew they had contacted him because he suspected Adrian lurked in the shadows. He grew up with a brother named Patrick and a sister named Kathleen. His father was a decorator from Homerton and he was good friends with Dave Murray. Adrian and Dave would go to parties and play "Highway Star" by Deep Purple so much that it would, to quote Adrian "drive everyone round the bend." When Dave left Urchin to join back up with Iron Maiden, he felt a slight pang of jealousy, wondering would his chance at success ever come? And sure enough, it did. Dave had apparently suggested Adrian Smith as the replacement for Dennis Stratton. It's said that indecisiveness should be Adrian's middle name, since he can never make up his mind and that when he and Dave are on stage, they are like two opposites-Adrian, with his head down and haunted expression, sending out Hendrix-inspired riffs and Dave, constantly smiling, whirling his blonde hair around and sending out breakneck speed riffs. Adrian would first taste the music bug with a band of glam-rock influenced kids called Broadway Brats. Then he would move up a rung and form a band called Urchin, in which he would sing lead and play guitar (Yes, Adrian Smith CAN SING! To get a good taste of this, watch the live concert on the film Flight 666 and get to the song "Wasted Years" when Bruce says "Adrian" and Adrian starts singing the chorus of "Wasted Years". It's the same way on the soundtrack for the film).

Adrian Smith and wife Natalie

Brave New World
-This was the first album after the reunion of the band. When Adrian found out there would be three guitarists in the band and that Steve had plans for that, not shockingly Adrian was surprised. He said something to the effect of "Three guitarists?!? It'll never work!" Steve proved him wrong. Not only did it work out, but the three of them-Dave, Adrian and Janick-are called the Three Amigos because of how close they are. Also, the band were cranking out songs left, right and center. And Bruce felt better about things after his solo jaunt because it allowed him to exorcise some inner demons and with this new album, he has at least two songs partially credited to him, with help from Dave, Janick, Adrian or Steve.

Dance of Death
-This was only the second album with Janick Gers installed on guitar. And already he was helping out on songs. The songs on this album are more upbeat, more everyone-oriented than the dark, adult-oriented Blaze-era stuff. It's said that the low point of the album was "Gates of Tomorrow". I say crap!! That is a great song! That is actually one of my favorite songs on there, in addition to "Paschendale", "Rainmaker", "No More Lies".

Janick Gers
-Birth name: Janick Robert Gers
-DOB: 1/27/1957
-Where: Hartlepool, England
-Spouse: Sandra Gers
-Kids: Sian Gers, Dylan Gers
-His father was in the Polish Navy, then switched over the British Royal Navy and then the Merchants Navy. According to him, Hartlepool was and is a big dock city, where a lot of Polish people live. He is the oldest of three kids, a younger brother and sister. He started out with a cheap acoustic guitar and didn't get his first real electric guitar until he was 18. It was a white Fender Stratocaster, which he continues to play today. He was in a variety of bands, starting with a close to unknown band called White Spirit, who got lumped in with the whole NWOBHM movement. Then he moved on to Ian Gillan's solo band, Gillan. It was in the late 1980s, early 1990s, that he had attended school for a degree in Humanities. Things weren't looking so good musically. But then he had a saving grace. Bruce Dickinson had begun working on his first solo album, which was to be titled Tattooed Millionaire and he wanted Janick to play on it.

Uncle Sam
-Basically this chapter just talks about when Iron Maiden finally hit it big in America and how most religious groups wanted to persecute this band, for "tainting the youth of America" with their supposed Devil worship lyrics. The band was constantly being accused of being Satanists and Devil worshippers, despite the fact that Nicko McBrain is a fully committed Christian and guitarists Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Janick Gers all wear crosses around their necks.

Nicko McBrain
-Birth name: Michael Henry McBrain
-DOB: 6/5/1952
-Where: Hackney, London, England
-Spouse: Rebecca McBrain
-Kids: Justin McBrain, Nicholas McBrain
-As a child, he was always called Nicky, because he carried around a teddy bear he named Nicholas. The only time his birth name, Michael, was used was when he was in trouble. He started out in a band called McKitty, but then moved on to Chapman Whitney Streetwalkers, and finally Trust, an artsy French socio=political metal band. How he came to get the nickname "Nicko" is he was in a band called The Wells Street Blues Band and Billy Day, one of the guitarists, introduced him to Dick Asher, head of CBS Records, as Neeko, his Italian drummer. He decided to change it to Nicko to sound more English. His first album with Iron Maiden was 1983's Piece of Mind. Nicko even had a full songwriting credit on 2003's Dance of Death, the song "New Frontier", which deals with the issue of human cloning. Nicko was always known as Mr. Excess, because he was the resident party animal. When Blaze came into the band in late 1994, Nicko worried about Blaze's hard-partying nature. It was Dave Murray who pointed out "Wait a sec, Nick. We hired you". Nicko laughed and said "You're right"

Nicko and wife Rebecca

French metal band Trust

Virtual Realty
-This chapter basically covers the end time of Blaze's time in the band. It talks about the 1998 Virtual XI album. Like all music bios, it talks about each song and during this time, it was when Blaze Bayley was let go from the band due to continuing vocal problems. It wasn't his fault; singing for Maiden can hard. But when plans were being laid out for Bruce to come back to the band, it was clear that Blaze would probably go. To this day, Blaze Bayley and Iron Maiden are on good terms and are good friends. There were never any cross words between the two. Blaze says that his time in Maiden has taught him to take more of a leadership role (no doubt inspired by Steve), write songs more and take more of the songwriting and leadership duties. He has his own highly successful solo career and there are times when he has reunited with his former band Wolfsbane. The Virtual XI album was often cited as being slightly lighter in content than its predecessor, but still retaining a slightly adult, X-rated type content to it. But a lot of the songs are lengthy, including "Angel and the Gambler", whose video shows the band playing on an asteroid, the ultimate concert and splices in clips from Ed Hunter: The Game and clips of the band playing poker backstage, while a leather longrider coat-wearing Blaze goes up to the bar, Clint Eastwood-style.

Rock in Rio
-This chapter is nothing more than just a chapter about playing at the large multi-day music festival in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. They played it multiple times and in this chapter they recall all the times they played there and how the craziest fans seem to be the South American ones. Those are the fans who go absolutely crazy for Maiden

Rock in Rio DVD
-Not much to this. It's talking about a DVD of them being in Rio very recently.

Clive Burr
-This chapter talks about the band doing some charity gigs in support of Clive Aid, a foundation dedicated to finding a cure, hopefully, and raising awareness about multiple sclerosis, which Clive Burr suffered from and died of.
2002 Collection
-This just refers to specialist collections of things they did.

Martin Birch
-Basically, this guy helped produce all their albums. It was considered from day 1 that they wanted him to produce them because of the long, successful list of people he's produced for. Steve actually worried about whether Birch wanted to do their music. Steve thought Martin would think "Who are these guys? Why would I want to produce them?" But Martin shocked them all by saying that he thought Maiden's music was perfect. To drive that point home further, a visit to Ritchie Blackmore in Long Island, New York, where he lives, did just that. Ritchie thought the band was fantastic and played the band's first album. Martin said "I can do better production than that!" And from then on, Martin has produced nearly every one of Maiden's albums. But, of course, there was a time when Martin would want to retire because he was spending every second of energy on Maiden. By the time Martin would retire, Steve, who had learned enough about producing by hanging out with Martin in the engineer's room, would take over the production of the albums, the cutting and splicing of live albums and DVDs, videos, etc. Nowadays, it's almost all down to Steve doing the production work, so essentially Steve is the busiest man in metal!

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