FUN FACTS: The Soundhouse Tapes recorded as a five-piece?

IM Victoria Street, Cambridge December 1978

Iron Maiden outside The Clarendon Arms, December 31st 1978, right next to Spaceward Studios were The Soundhouse Tapes were recorded. From left to right: Paul Di’Anno, Paul Cairns (with his dog, Nelson), Dave Murray, Steve Harris and Doug Sampson. Photo: Spaceward Studios

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.”

Studio notes for the Iron Maiden Demo recording at Spaceward Studios.

Studio notes for the Iron Maiden demo recording at Spaceward Studios.

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.


No love for Paul Cairns. This is the original sleeve for The Soundhouse Tapes. The credits for the recording list Iron Maiden as a four-piece. They might actually have been a five-piece on their debut recording too.

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.

Thanks to Maiden Holland, Loopy World, Ricardo Lira, Barry Considine and Stjepan Juras for their research on the subject.

25 thoughts on “FUN FACTS: The Soundhouse Tapes recorded as a five-piece?

  1. This was a really nice (and quite interesting) read when I first saw it at Loopy’s World and

    Damnatio memoriae! 😆

    Poor Paul Cairns. Anyway, Rod has rewritten history more than once and that is why one has to take anything he says when telling Maiden’s past with a pinch of salt…

    • Yeah, it’s sort of old news, but I saw Maiden Holland re-posted the old band photo today. I thought it could fun to make section where we can assemble stuff like this. As you mentioned, the official story isn’t always the most accurate one 🙂

      • Some fun facts that have been brushed under the carpet and might be worth mentioning:

        – Who really wrote ‘Sanctuary’.
        – Who really wrote ‘Run to the hills’, ‘The prisoner’ (well, Rod let that one slip in “12 wasted years” 😆 ), ‘Children of the damned’ and ‘Gangland’.

  2. Yeah, those things are absolutely worth talking about. Some sources say that Bob Sawyer wrote Sanctuary. Paul Di’Anno has told me that they bought it from a guy in a pub band back in the days. It could tie in with the Sawyer-story, but then again Paul’s memory are kind of selective, so it’s difficult to say 🙂

    • I would not believe more than 10% of what Paul DiAnno says, perhaps even less… 😆

      It has been reported that Bob Sawyer wrote ‘Sanctuary’ and then the band bought the song from him, hence the changing song writing credits for that one.

  3. When it comes to Run To The Hills, The Prisoner and Children Of The Damned, Bruce has claimed he had a significant “moral” contribution to them. Which means he co-wrote them but wasn’t allowed a credit because of trouble with his Samson contract when he joined Maiden.

    Definitely a good idea for some “Fun Facts” digging!

      • I prefer to pretend that Gangland does not exist.

        Anyway, where’s the info on that? The only songs I can find Dickinson claiming ownership to are Prisoner, Children and Run.

      • Go and check the 1996 interview with Bruce at The Bruce Dickinson Wellbeing Network: 😉

        On a side note, I like both ‘Gangland’ and ‘Invaders’. They might not be as brilliant as the rest of that seminal album, but both are nice rockers nevertheless (and a massive improvement over some of the songs off “Killers”).

  4. ok gangland isn’t a great song but it projects Bruce’s voice greatly as it goes really high here and there and has it’s moments… The maiden song I pretend that doesn’t exist is :The Angel and the Gambler :P. I too didn’t know that Bruce co-wrote gangland (if it’s true) … The only thing I know about this track is that it was chosen to be on the original album instead of Total eclipse cause It was the only Burr composition in Maiden and Harris wasn’t so sure about total eclipse (as dickinson mentioned in an interview when he was doing solo stuff during the mid – late 90s)

  5. @Ghost: Yeah, I couldn’t remember him mentioning Gangland in that interview. Have to say I agree with Bruce: Gangland kind of sucks…

    • I have to disagree with him. It is obviously weaker than the rest of the album, but for me much more enjoyable than some (most) of the songs Maiden had written for “Killers”

      • *horrified* LOL — Oh my Goddess, Christer, you’ve got to be punking me. “Quest for Fire” is like a knitting needle scraping in your ear. Even Bruce couldn’t keep a straight face singing about frickin’ dinosaurs!!

        I’ll bet you anything that if you asked them what their least shining moment in the studio was, it wasn’t Gangland. It was most likely Bruce screeching out, “…when swamps and caves WERE HOME!” 😀

  6. Some people like Gangland. Some people like From Here To Eternity. Some even think The Angel And The Gambler is okay. I like Quest For Fire. It’s good, not great, but in my opinion Piece Of Mind has no weak tracks.

    • I enjoy the music in ‘Quest for fire’ but the lyrics are a bit on the cringeworthy side. However, some of the lyrics from the DiAnno era are not much better or even worse…

      ‘The angel of the gambler’ is a complete different kettle of fish though! No comment. 😆

    • What, you don’t like From Here to Eternity? That’s probably my favorite “not exactly metal, but still awesome” Maiden song.

  7. Here you go my top 15 worst Maiden songs… In my opinion

    01. The angel and the Gambler
    02. The Man who would be king
    03. The Apparition
    04. Charlotte the Harlot
    05. Drifter
    06. Innocent Exile
    07. The Duelists
    08. Back In The Village
    09. Die with your boots on
    10. Sun and Steel
    11. Gangland
    12. El Dorado
    13. The Unbeliever
    14. Fates Warning
    15. Satellite 15….. (The Final Frontier is ok I guess)…

    • Funnily enough I really like some of those songs (‘The Duellists’, ‘Back In The Village’, ‘Die with your boots on’, ‘Sun and Steel’, ‘Gangland’ and, especially, ‘El Dorado’).

      My top 15 worst Maiden songs would include a fair amount of tracks from the 90s and some off “Killlers”. ‘Charlotte the harlot’ would probably be included too.

  8. Pingback: FUN FACTS: Here is the original Live After Death cover. Scream for me Eddie! | maidenrevelations

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