The official story is that the legendary Spaceward demo was Iron Maiden‘s only recording as a four-piece. Recent information suggest that it isn’t really so.
The credits for The Soundhouse Tapes tells you that the now infamous demo, Iron Maiden’s very debut as recording artists, was recorded by the personnel Steve Harris, Dave Murray, Paul Di’Anno and Doug Sampson. As it happens, several sources are now claiming that there was a fifth person involved in the recordings, Paul Cairns.
According to former Iron Maiden roadie Steve “Loopy” Newhouse the band toured as a four-piece for several months in 1978, but Steve Harris decided that they needed to go back to the original configuration with a two guitar line-up so they could pull of the harmonies. Subsequently an add was placed in Melody Maker and auditions were held.
Paul Cairns was chosen, a guy with both the skills and the looks. Newhouse remembers the ordeal in his blog:
“Then suddenly, just when things were about to wrap up for the evening a guy called Paul Cairns turned up with his dog, Nelson.
If I could describe his look, Paul, not the dog, the shaggy hair style and opened shirt, I would say that Jon Bon Jovi stole Paul Cairns’ look, without even knowing it. Even though Bon Jovi came along a few years after Maiden and musically was of a different genre, they went on to become a huge selling act and, after my stint with Iron Maiden, I worked for them a couple of times. But that’s another story.
Paul slotted in quite well during the initial audition. He had everything. Musically, he was what the band wanted, and he looked the part too. But that was where it ended as far as I was concerned.”
In a later blog post, Newhouse details the events in Cambridge and points to several factors that suggests that Cairns actually was involved in the recordings too:
– The photo of Paul Cairns with the rest of the band, standing outside the pub next to the studio was not doctored in any way. Nelson, Paul’s dog taking center stage, was a clue. I actually remember Paul saying he had slept in his van, and Nelson had kept him warm. I have no idea what triggered this memory, but I’m stuck with it now.
And then there is Paul’s account of his part in the recording of the Demo, according to Stjepan Juras‘ book, The Clairvoyant.
– Paul’s very detailed account of the part he played on each track was enough to get me thinking that the only way he would know this stuff was if he was actually there.
If it is the case that Paul Cairns was involved in the recordings, why is he not credited for his effort on the EP? One possible explanation was that he was booted from the band before the the demo was printed as The Soundhouse Tapes and thus the band didn’t want to profile themselves with a member that was no longer in the band.