Iron Maiden’s Clive Burr on Martin Birch, Ruddles, and The Number of the Beast



By Steve Newton

Iron Maiden is quickly becoming one of Britain’s most popular metal bands. Last year the band sold well over a million albums with their second release, Killers, cracking the top ten in the UK, France, Germany, Japan, Sweden, and Belgium.

Their latest album, The Number of the Beast, was released in March of this year and was the number one record on the British charts for two weeks. The album had originally been scheduled for an earlier release, but had to be delayed because of mysterious malfunctions of equipment in the studio and the unusual difficulties the band had in laying down the title track. It seems that, as soon as the band began recording it, equipment which had proved totally reliable on an eight-month world tour started to misbehave. Bassist Steve Harris’ amplifier stack blew up and guitarist Dave Murray’s kept cutting out at irregular intervals. Then, as producer Martin Birch finally got ready to mix the song, he was involved in a car crash on his way home from the studio. When the bill for repairs arrived a few days later, the fee was 666 pounds.

Not a particularly good omen.

As well as Harris and Murray, Iron Maiden is made up of guitarist Adrian Smith, singer Bruce Dickinson, and drummer Clive Burr. The group will be playing at the Pacific Coliseum on July 22, along with German rockers Scorpions. I talked to Burr from Toronto recently about his band, their influences, and the current state of heavy metal.

Your current world tour has you playing in France, Spain, and Switzerland, among other countries. Is heavy metal popular in those places?

Oh extremely. It really is.

Has it always been, or is it more a new thing?

Well, I think in Spain and places like that it’s a sort of new thing, but in places like Germany and France it’s always been very popular. 

You guys are going to play Yugoslavia in October. I didn’t know they were into heavy metal over there.

Yeah, we did a festival out there last year, and we played to–believe it or not–to about 30,000 people. It was really weird. I mean the P/A was like pre-war, and all the bands had to use the same kit. It was very ancient equipment, but the fans were outrageous–they were really into it. Headbangers.

What’s your stage show like?

Our new stage show is really good. You know, we’ve got all the effects and things. I can’t say too much, but be prepared to be shocked.

Britain seems to be the heavy metal country of the world. A lot of heavy bands have come out of Britain and made names for themselves. Is there something about the country itself that makes Britain such a great exporter of heavy rock?

That’s a difficult one to explain. I just suppose it’s two different styles of music. In Britain we’ve got a different way of making it in the business–we use other media more than we do radio. Whereas in the States it’s all done by radio, basically. Once you get the radio play then people start buying the record.

So perhaps we start off with a different attitude. When we’re first getting into it, we don’t need to make anything so they’ll play it on the radio. We’re just given the freedom to style things the way we want. From the very outset, when you’re just starting to play your instruments, you’re not thinking all the time about hit singles which will get you radio play. You’re just thinking about writing songs.

Dave Murray and Adrian Smith are both blazingly fast guitar players. Who were their main influences or guitar heroes. Do you know?

Yes. Dave’s were Jimi Hendrix and Blackmore. And Adrian’s were Blackmore and Gary Moore.

Your new album, The Number of the Beast, was produced and engineered by Martin Birch, who’s noted for his work with Deep Purple, Rainbow, and Black Sabbath. What was it like working with him and what effect did you using him have on the album’s msuic?

Well, it was the second year we actually used him. We had him last year to record Killers, so having already made friends with him we were looking forward to seeing him on this new album. He’s more a psychologist really, than just a producer. He really psyched us up well, without us knowing it.

When you go in and record, especially when you’re doing high energy stuff like we do, you’re very conscious of the fact that you’ve got to get that energy going. But it’s very difficult without an audience, and you don’t want to create a forced energy, because if it doesn’t flow freely from you, it sounds false on the recording. You can tell. But Martin really psyched us all up and it came out really well.

On your new album jacket it says that the record was recorded “on Ruddles with a little help from Remy and Carlsberg.” What’s Ruddles?

Ruddles is the beer that we’re all into. It’s the traditional ale of England. It’s brewed in the woods without chemicals and things. And you only need about two or three pints and then you’re gone.

Is Iron Maiden a heavy drinking and partying group?

You could say that, yes. It’s sort of an understatement.

Your album covers are all sort of shocking, mainly because of your evil-looking “mascot” Eddie. The new album is especially catchy–it’s got the devil there and Eddie standing over him.

A lot of people have asked “Is this a concept album?” or “Was this preconceived about all the devil worship?”. But we aren’t into all that, and it wasn’t a preconceived idea, because that cover was in fact a single cover that we brought out a year ago. We had a single called “Purgatory”, and Derek Riggs, our artist, designed that cover. We thought it was so good that we saved it for a whole year for the new album cover.

Which other artists do the band members listen to in their sare time?

Dave is into Purple and Hendrix, and Adrian likes listening to that sort of music as well. Bruce is a Rainbow man, and Steve is into UFO, Judas Priest, and Todd Rundgren. My favourite is Frank Zappa. He’s God as far as I’m concerned.


To hear the full audio of my interviews with Iron Maiden members Bruce Dickinson, Dave Murray, and Steve Harris subscribe to my Patreon page, where you can also eavesdrop on over 275 of my uncut, one-on-one conversations with:

John Bush of Anthrax, 1993
Aldo Nova, 1983
Steven Adler from Guns N’ Roses, 2011
Mick Ronson, 1989
Tom Morello, 2011
Jakob Dylan of the Wallflowers, 1993
Colin Hay of Men at Work, 1983
Mark Kelly of Marillion, 1986
Luther Allison, 1995
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J. Geils from the J. Geils Band, 2006
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Marshall Crenshaw, 2013
Dan Hartman, 1984
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Tommy Stinson from the Replacements, 1993
Brian Blush of the Refreshments, 1997
Joe Elliott of Def Leppard, 2003
Joe Jackson, 2003
Pepper Keenan of Corrosion of Conformity, 2001
David Ellefson of Megadeth, 1992
David Lee Roth, 2003
Grant Walmsley of the Screaming Jets, 1991
John Popper of Blues Traveler, 1991
Dave Murray of Iron Maiden, 2012
Joe Perry of Aerosmith, 1993
Ellen McIlwaine, 2001
Derek Trucks of Tedeschi Trucks, 2012
J.D. Fortune of INXS, 2006
Fernando von Arb of Krokus, 1984
Gary Holt of Exodus, 1985
Dizzy Reed of Guns N’ Roses, 1992
Scott Ian of Anthrax, 2012
Gary Lee Conner of Screaming Trees, 1992
Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran, 1985
David “Honeyboy” Edwards, 2003
Rudolf Schenker of Scorpions, 1992
Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick, 2001
Jeff Keith of Tesla, 1988
Doyle Bramhall II and Charlie Sexton of Arc Angels, 1992
Marc Bonilla, 1992
Mike Smith of Sandbox (and Trailer Park Boys), 1996
Dewey Bunnell of America, 1983
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Keith Strickland of the B-52s, 2008
David Johansen of the New York Dolls, 2005
Nathan Followill of Kings of Leon, 2003
Todd Kerns, 2016
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Tommy Shannon of SRV & Double Trouble, 1998
Alejandro Escovedo, 1997
Billy Duffy of the Cult, 1989
Dave Martone, 2020
Ian Gillan of Deep Purple, 2006
Joss Stone, 2012
Glenn Tipton of Judas Priest, 2005
Jack Blades of Night Ranger, 1984
Vivian Campbell of Def Leppard, 1992
Colin James, 1995
Kim Simmonds of Savoy Brown, 1998
Tom Cochrane of Red Rider, 1983
Ed Roland of Collective Soul, 1995
Taj Mahal, 2001
Tom Wilson of Junkhouse, 1995
Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, 2003
David Lindley, 2002
Marty Friedman of Megadeth, 1991
John Hiatt, 2010
Nancy Wilson of Heart, 2006
Jeff Golub, 1989
Moe Berg of the Pursuit of Happiness, 1990
Todd Rundgren, 2006
Chad Kroeger of Nickelback, 2001
Steve Earle, 1987
Gabby Gaborno of the Cadillac Tramps, 1991
Terry Bozzio, 2003
Roger Glover, 1985
Matthew Sweet, 1995
Jim McCarty of the Yardbirds, 2003
Luther Dickinson of North Mississippi Allstars, 2001
John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls, 1995
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Grace Potter, 2008
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Steve Lynch of Autograph, 1985
Don Wilson of the Ventures, 1997
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Albert Lee, 1986
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Kate Bush, 1985
David Gilmour from Pink Floyd, 1984
Jeff Healey, 1988
Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip, 1996
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Kenny Wayne Shepherd, 1995
Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues, 1986
Elliot Easton from the Cars, 1996
Wayne Kramer from the MC5, 2004
Bob Rock, 1992
Nick Gilder, 1985
Klaus Meine of Scorpions, 1988
Jason Bonham, 1989
Tom Johnston of the Doobie Brothers, 1991
Joey Spampinato of NRBQ, 1985
Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers, 2003
Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash, 2003
Steve Kilbey of the Church, 1990
Edgar Winter, 2005
Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde, 1990
Randy Hansen, 2001
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Davy Knowles of Back Door Slam, 2007
Jimmy Barnes from Cold Chisel, 1986
Steve Stevens of Atomic Playboys, 1989
Billy Idol, 1984
Stuart Adamson of Big Country, 1993
Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, 1992
Warren Haynes of Gov’t Mule, 1998
John Bell of Widespread Panic, 1992
Robben Ford, 1993
Barry Hay of Golden Earring, 1984
Jason Isbell, 2007
Joey Belladonna of Anthrax, 1991
Joe Satriani, 1990
Vernon Reid of Living Colour, 1988
Brad Delp of Boston, 1988
Zakk Wylde of Pride & Glory, 1994
John Sykes of Blue Murder, 1989
Alice Cooper, 1986
Lars Ulrich of Metallica, 1985
John Doe, 1990
Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon, 1992
Myles Goodwyn of April Wine, 2001
John Mellencamp, 1999
Mike Campbell of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1999
Kenny Aronoff, 1999
Doyle Bramhall II, 2001
Jon Bon Jovi, 1986
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1992
Randy Bachman, 2001
Little Steven, 1987
Stevie Salas, 1990
J.J. Cale, 2009
Joe Bonamassa, 2011
Tommy Emmanuel, 1994
John Petrucci of Dream Theater, 2010
Alex Van Halen, 1995
Eric Johnson, 2001
Stu Hamm, 1991
Gene Simmons of Kiss, 1992
Ace Frehley from Kiss, 2008
David Lee Roth, 1994
Allan Holdsworth, 1983
John Mayall of the Bluesbreakers, 1988
Tony Iommi of Heaven and Hell, 2007
Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, 1996
Geoff Tate of Queensryche, 1991
James Hetfield of Metallica, 1986
Stevie Ray Vaughan, 1990
Rick Richards of the Georgia Satellites, 1988
Andy McCoy and Sam Yaffa of Hanoi Rocks, 1984
Steve Morse, 1991
Slash of Guns N’ Roses, 1994
Brian May from Queen, 1993
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1991
Jake E. Lee of Badlands, 1992
Rickey Medlocke of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1997
John Fogerty, 1997
Joe Perry of Aerosmith, 1987
Rick Derringer, 1999
Robin Trower, 1990
Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, 1994
Mick Ronson, 1988
Geddy Lee of Rush, 2002
Buck Dharma of Blue Oyster Cult, 1997
Michael Schenker, 1992
Vince Neil of Motley Crue, 1991
Vinnie Paul of Pantera, 1992
Joan Jett, 1992
Sebastian Bach of Skid Row, 1989
Rob Halford of Judas Priest, 1984
Bill Henderson of Chilliwack, 1999
Paul Rodgers, 1997
R.L. Burnside, 1999
Guthrie Govan of the Aristocrats, 2015
Mick Mars of Mötley Crüe, 1985
Carlos Santana, 2011
Walter Trout, 2003
Rudy Sarzo of Quiet Riot, 1983
Tommy Aldridge, 2001
Donald “Duck” Dunn, 1985
Mark Farner of Grand Funk, 1991
Chris Robinson of Black Crowes, 1990
Jennifer Batten, 2002
Mike Fraser, 2014
Leo Kottke, 2002
Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead, 2002
David Gogo, 1991
Booker T. Jones, 2016
Link Wray, 1997
James Reyne from Australian Crawl, 1988
Mike Rutherford of Genesis, 1983
Buddy Guy, 1991
Country Dick Montana of the Beat Farmers, 1990
Mike Cooley of the Drive-By Truckers, 2016
Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1986
Lindsay Mitchell of Prism, 1988
Buddy Miles, 2001
Eddie Money, 1988
Tom Hamilton of Aerosmith, 1983
Gaye Delorme, 1990
Graham Bonnet of Alcatrazz, 1984
Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac, 2016
Doc Neeson of Angel City, 1985
Rik Emmett of Triumph, 1985
Sonny Landreth, 2016
Tosin Abasi of Animals as Leaders, 2016
Jeff Beck, 2001
Albert King, 1990
Johnny Ramone of the Ramones, 1992
Peter Frampton, 1987
Otis Rush, 1997
Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip, 1989
Leslie West of Mountain, 2002
Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden, 1983
Uli Jon Roth, 2016
Poison Ivy of the Cramps, 1990
Greg Lake of ELP, 1992
Robert Plant, 1993
Malcolm Young and Brian Johnson of AC/DC, 1983
Warren Zevon, 1992
Tal Wilkenfeld, 2016
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Roy Buchanan, 1986
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Kim Mitchell, 1984
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Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath, 1984
Dick Dale, 2000
Greg Allman, 1998
Dickey Betts, 2001

…with hundreds more to come

3 thoughts on “Iron Maiden’s Clive Burr on Martin Birch, Ruddles, and The Number of the Beast

  1. I loved Clive Burr. What a sweetheart he was! Clive and I have another thing in common, FRANK ZAPPA! He liked him too! Darling Clivey drumming upstairs in the Heaven above, you were the best. A powerhouse of a drummer and a real loveable bloke….Forever will I miss you baby…..Love eternal, Kimberly Ann Rogers XO

  2. Clive Burr was a blessing and a legendary drummer and one helluva nice guy. I remember my longtime partner seeing Iron Maiden way back in 1982, on June 22nd during the Beast on the Road tour in our hometown of Ottawa, Ontario. My partner, ironically named Adrian got a cool chance to meet and greet with band after. My partner and I got so freaking wasted and offered Clive Burr $700.00 for his sperm! Needless to say…Clive’s cute face turned beet red and he burst out laughing and was really embarrassed! Man…my partner Adrian were just so crazy that night. We will forever miss and remember Clive Burr and fun personality.

  3. Thanks for publishing it here! It sheds more light on Clive’s life. He was a legend. RIP. You have taken so many great interviews through out the 80s! Its awesome man. Respects.

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