Iron Maiden’s Dave Murray, age 30, says “it’s good to know we’ve got a few years to go yet”


By Steve Newton

England’s Iron Maiden is different than most other heavy metal bands in a lot of ways. For one thing, they can all play their instruments, and very well. Their songs are quite complex, and the lyrics aren’t simple-minded: there are no likes like “I’m gonna shoot you full of love.”

Although a guitar-based outfit, Maiden does not bore with long, pointless solos–guitarists Dave Murray and Adrian Smith play with equal amounts of emotion and flash. And the group doesn’t rely on fancy clothes and makeup to get on the covers of teen-oriented rock mags.

But one thing that Iron Maiden does have that is typical of the heavy metal genre is loudness. When they visit the Pacific Coliseum this Sunday (April 26), they’ll be utilizing the biggest indoor sound system in the world, custom-built to their personal specifications, and capable of delivering 173,000 watts of power.

When guitarist Murray called the Georgia Straight from Minneapolis last week, I asked him if there really was a need for that much wattage in concert. “Dave!” I said. “That’s enough power to kill small rodents in their tracks!”

“Yeah,” he chuckled. “But really it’s to keep the sound clean, rather than not bringing enough and having to turn up and get distortion. We like to get a loud, clear sound because the music has lots of different melodies and time changes.”

Iron Maiden have been lugging the sound system–as well as a lighting rig of over 1,000 lamps–around the world in seven 45-foot trucks. Their current tour, in support of their seventh LP Somewhere in Time, started in Belgrade last September and will finish off in New Zealand and Japan sometime this summer. By the time it’s over, the band will have played to over one-and-a-half million fans. Murray says that so far the tour has gone pretty smooth, although there were a couple of incidents that were “a bit like Spinal Tap.

“We’ve got a walk-on Eddie [the band’s monster/mascot], and he tipped over one night. The road crew had to get dressed up in white jackets and drag him off. but we’ve been on the tour now for eight months, so we’ve got it down to a fine art, I would think.”

One incident that the band could do nothing about was the recent disturbance at the Meadowlands stadium in New Jersey, which got a lot of coverage and was termed a “riot” by the press.

“Well it wasn’t much of a riot,” claims Murray. “It was just like thirty odd kids, out of 20,000, that got out of hand after the show. I don’t really think they were fans anyway–they just turned up to cause havoc.

“And it’s a shame, really, ’cause we’re probably never gonna play there again. And it got headline news everywhere, which is totally ridiculous. I mean this sort of thing happens at baseball and soccer games, but since it happened at a music concert it’s like ‘bang’, everybody has to hear about it.”

Heavy metal has always been criticized for its violent overtones, but for the most part Iron Maiden has been able to minimize any violent outbursts at their shows. When the group last played Vancouver, in 1984 with Twisted Sister, lead singer Bruce Dickinson went out of his way to chastise anyone causing trouble at the front of the stage.

“We want the kids to come down and enjoy themselves,” says Murray, “and not start beating each other. I mean half the time it’s the security people who start things, going in for no apparent reason. But if people start throwing things we just stop the show and try and find out who it is, or Bruce will have a word with them just to try and keep some kind of control. I mean you always get a few idiots in the audience.”

If it’s not violence, then it’s things like satanism that will get people like the PMRC (Parents Music Resource Center) all hot and bothered. Iron Maiden did the sinful thing of putting a likeness of the devil on their 1982 album, and then going and calling it The Number of the Beast.

“It’s funny,” says Dave, “cause when we toured ’round Europe with that album it was fine–nobody said anything. Then as soon as we got to America we couldn’t believe the amount of people that were coming down and picketing the show. I mean really, we just laughed at it. We thought, ‘These people have got to be jokin’.”

The appearance of the corpse-like Eddie on Iron Maiden albums covers has not won them brownie points with the PMRC either, but Murray points out that there’s no deep meaning in the monster. “Our fans can see that we’re just having a bit of fun with it. People who don’t understand it probably think he’s a horrific figure, but Eddie’s really a very harmless sort of chap.”

On the cover of Somewhere in Time, Eddie is done up as an avenging android in a Blade Runner type of setting. The theme from the movie opens the band’s current stage show, which has a futuristic theme with spaceships and laser battles. The show went over particularly well in Poland, where the group has a fanatical following. At a Warsaw show they were surprised by a request from the Russian embassy for tickets and backstage passes. After the concert the group treated the diplomats to English beer and cigarettes and discussed the possiblity of a fugure gig in Moscow.

To date, Iron Maiden has amassed over 60 gold and platinum albums from 17 countries. At the age of 30, Dave Murray is pretty well set for life–as are his bandmates. As a youngster learning guitar in the East End of London, he never dreamed that one day he’d be touring all around the world and making bug bucks.

“At that time you just practice a lot, and when you finally get into a band you’re concerned with playing the local circuit and the clubs and pubs around England. So that’s pretty much as far as you set your sights. I mean you read about these bands touring, but at the time it’s just like that big thing out there.”

And does he ever wake up in the morning thinking he’s a pretty lucky guy?

“You do feel lucky when you think about it, because the whole music business can be very fickle sometimes. Things come and go and change, but this form of music is very popular–there’s audiences everywhere for it. When you think of some bands, they’re big overnight and then forgotten the next week, but we’ve built up a solid groundwork, a lot of foundation. It’s good to know that we’ve got a few years to go yet.”


To hear the full audio of my ’80s interviews with Iron Maiden’s Dave Murray, Bruce Dickinson, and Steve Harris subscribe to my Patreon page, where you can also eavesdrop on my uncut, one-on-one conversations with:

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
Robert Randolph of the Family Band, 2003
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
Bill Payne of Little Feat, 2002
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
Steve Hackett from Genesis, 1993
Grace Potter, 2008
Buddy Guy, 1993
Steve Lynch of Autograph, 1985
Don Wilson of the Ventures, 1997
Gordie Johnson of Big Sugar, 1998
Trevor Rabin of Yes, 1984
Albert Lee, 1986
Yngwie Malmsteen, 1985
Robert Cray, 1996
Tony Carey, 1984
Ian Hunter, 1988
Kate Bush, 1985
David Gilmour from Pink Floyd, 1984
Jeff Healey, 1988
Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip, 1996
Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi, 1993
Colin Linden, 1993
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
Dan McCafferty of Nazareth, 1984
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
Dave Mustaine of Megadeth, 1998
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
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1992
Randy Bachman of the Guess Who, 2001
Little Steven, 1987
Stevie Salas, 1990
J.J. Cale, 2009
Joe Bonamassa, 2011
Rob Baker of the Tragically Hip, 1997
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
Steve Vai, 1990
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
Steve Howe of Yes, 2017
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
Steve Clark of Def Leppard, 1988
Roy Buchanan, 1986
Gary Moore, 1984
Ronnie Montrose, 1994
Danny Gatton, 1993
Alex Lifeson of Rush, 1992
Ann Wilson of Heart, 1985
J.J. Cale, 1990
Yngwie Malmsteen, 2014
Chris Cornell, 2008
Long John Baldry, 1985
Allan Holdsworth, 1983
Kim Mitchell, 1984
Warren Haynes of Allman Brothers, 1994
Derek Trucks, 1998
Susan Tedeschi, 1998
Joe Satriani, 2018
B.B. King, 1984
Albert Collins, 1985
Ronnie James Dio, 1985
Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath, 1984
Dick Dale, 2000
Greg Allman, 1998
Dickey Betts, 2001

…with hundreds more to come

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