Link to Us
Dave Murray Interview
MH: Can you remember anything from your very first Iron Maiden tour?
[ Add Comment ]
Dave: The first Iron Maiden thing we did where I can remember that we were all travelling together was when we went out of London to record what became the 'Soundhouse Tapes', at the Spaceward Studios in Cambridge on New Year's Eve, 1978. There must've been three feet of snow everywhere, and we were freezing our balls off, all cramped together in the back of a van. I remember travelling overnight to one gig we had booked in Wales, and we arrived at about 3am and went straight to sleep, but when we woke up in the morning there was a layer of frost over everyone's faces!
MH: Did you have an Eddie at this time?
Dave: We didn't have an eddie like we do now; he was a Kabuki mask which pumped fake blood through the mouth. We once had a singer called Dennis Wilcock who used to run around in a cape during 'Prowler', and he'd draw a sabre across his throat and blood would drip down - all very theatrical!
MH: At what point did you start to think Iron Maiden was a serious lifestyle choice?
Dave: When we got the deal with EMI (1980) and we were able to pack in the day jobs, I started to think then that we must be doing something right. When the new tour bus turned up and there were proper bunks, video players, a bar and things like that on it, I knew somebody else thought we must be too.
MH: There was only three years between releasing 'Iron Maiden' and doing the US tour for 'Piece of Mind', which included a headline at Madison Square Gardens. Did you ever think things were moving too fast?
Dave: There was a big shift in gear in worldwide terms with 'Number of the Beast', definitely. But I also clearly remember the day that we found out we had a No. 1 album in Britain - we were pushing our own tour bus up a bloody great hill, because it had broken down! There's always something happening to keep your feet on the ground. (Success) wasn't overnight, it was three years of working hard at each level on the way up. But when it did happen it was very hard to take in because it felt and still does feel, like being on a rollercoaster that won't slow down. Christmas is normally the time that people sit back and review the past year, but being in Maiden we're usually on tour over the holidays so I don't really get time to do that. Our lives revolve around world tours, and it's only after each one, when you've spent another ten months travelling the world, that you afford yourself the time to reflect upon it with any satisfaction. We've literally played in front of millions of people and experienced so many different cultures that it's quite hard not to feel some degree of achievement.
MH: What's the strangest place that Iron Maiden have ever played?
Dave: In the early days we used to play anywhere that would have us but there was this one place in Nottingham which was so small, you wouldn't believe it. There was a suspended ceiling which was so low that when any of us lifted the guitars up, they'd punch a big hole through the polystyrene!
MH: Is there one gig that stands out as being particularly special?
Dave: It would have to be the first Donington headline show we did in 1988. The fact that we could headline such a prestigious festival in front of so many people, above a bill that great, was amazing. The atmosphere was electric and we came off mentally and physically drained. It was like we'd climbed a mountain and stuck our flag in it, and it really meant something.
MH: Maiden have a reputation for building up a full head of steam whilst playing live, so what's the hottest gig you've ever played?
Dave: The early Marquee shows were pretty debilitating. I regularly used to lose a few pounds when we played there, but the hottest would be when we played Phoenix (Arizona) in the summer. It was an outdoor gig and we went on in the middle of the afternoon, and it was like someone had put a big magnifying glass over the stage. There was a gig in Sacramento (California) which was so hot, my guitar strings were giving me blisters! We were playing 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner' and there's a bit where Nicko doesn't have to play for two minutes, so he got up for a stretch and burnt his feet on the formica floor. He had to run and jump into a swimming pool backstage to cool off, and then get out and run back to the stage to pick up the song again!
MH: What's the worst onstage injury incurred by a Maiden trooper?
Dave: I jumped off the drum riser one time and landed heavily. I felt a twinge in my knee but I didn't think anything of it, and carried on with the gig. Next morning I tried to stand up - and promptly fell straight over cos I'd torn all of the ligaments around my knee! I ended up playing the last 30 dates of the tour with my leg in a full cast. I even had to be carried onto the stage because I couldn't bend my leg to walk up myself.
MH: Has Eddie ever broke down onstage in a moment of Spinal Tap-like glory?
Dave: He's come out a couple of times and thrown himself into the crowd because the stage hasn't been level! That's when we get the Dr Killmores in their white coats to come on and cart him off for brain surgery. There are actually lots of different Eddies in warehouses across Britain. There's been one for each major tour so far, because we have to change him depending on the album's artwork. Maybe we should have a 'bring your Eddie' party?
MH: A few years back, Bruce Dickinson announced he wanted to leave the band right before a major tour. Was it hard to keep the enthusiasm up with a guy fronting the band who didn't want to be there?
Dave: That was a very difficult and strange time for the band. Personally, I had a lot of respect for Bruce because he was honest enough to admit to everyone that he wanted out, and he wasn't prepared to pretend that everything was alright for him. The rest of us felt that we wanted to carry on; we made it through and what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I still keep in touch with Bruce, and Adrian as well. Adrian and I have known each other since we were kids, so there's a friendship that goes way beyond the band.
MH: As an original Maiden-ite, you've seen three different vocalists sing the song 'Iron Maiden'. Who's the best?
Dave: Who sings the best? No comment! Obviously, each singer has their own inflections but 'Iron Maiden' was written and sung by vocalists before Paul Di'Anno; it's only that he was the one to be heard singing it first. I really love how Blaze sings 'Iron Maiden'. As soon as he started singing the old stuff I knew that he would be the right singer for us.
MH: Have Iron Maiden ever trashed a hotel room?
Dave: We've never done the '70s 'TVs out of the window' trick, we're more civilised. We held mini-bar parties with the crew instead. You'd have to get the mini-bar off the wall and out of the room, and you'd meet people in the hotel hallway wheeling their mini-bars towards the elevator, on the way to the designated party room on the net floor.
MH: Like Marilyn Manson is now, Maiden ran into trouble in the southern United States during the early '80s with 'Number of the Beast'. Did you ever think that they were all mad?
Dave: At times I did. There were TV programmes being broadcast while we were touring saying, 'Burn this album!', and our records were stickered with parental warnings. It wasn't just us though, these parent groups were having a go at Ozzy, WASP, Motley Crue, and movies and horror writers as well. It made me wonder who they thought thy were protecting, because it never affected the turnout at any of the gigs, even in the southern States, which were always packed with people who wanted to be there.
MH: Who's been the strangest Iron Maiden fan you've ever met?
Dave: There was one guy that, every time we toured through his hometown near Chicago, would build a huge Eddie sculpture on the roof of his house! These things were sometimes half the size of his house and supported by huge timbers, and he would always do a new one for each separate tour in the style of the current album. He wasn't a particularly strange person but he was undoubtedly very committed to the band.