Can you believe it’s been 40 years since Steve Harris put together the first version of his band?
As Iron Maiden are about to head out on one of their biggest ever world tours in 2016, it’s truly weird to realize the fact that the band is 40 years old today.
Steve started his first band as early as 1973. The group took the name Influence and attempted to write their own material. It didn’t last long, and the band broke up shortly after changing their name to Gypsy’s Kiss. “I suppose the others lost interest, or whatever,” said Steve many years later. “That’s all they want, a taste. But a taste wasn’t enough for me. I really enjoyed doing gigs and I wanted it to last forever.”
To get further, Steve joined Smiler in 1974, where he got to play with drummer Doug Sampson and singer Dennis Wilcock for a while. But the bassist got frustrated when the others showed little enthusiasm for his original song material, and so he left the group to pursue his own vision in earnest.
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In the last few weeks of 1975 Steve assembled his own band, with the intention of focusing on the original ideas he was steadily coming up with. On Christmas Day, December 25th 1975, Iron Maiden was born. The official first line-up of Steve’s band featured guitarists Dave Sullivan and Terry Rance, drummer Ron Rebel Matthews, and singer Paul Day.
Steve also came up with the new band’s name, Iron Maiden … or did he? “I don’t remember if I thought of it or my mum did or someone else in my family. I can’t remember.” But stuck it did. The band rehearsed three or four times a week at Dave Lights’ house and started doing regular gigs at the Cart & Horses in Stratford.
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During this time, Steve would write some of the earliest Maiden classics, like ‘Wrathchild’, ‘Prowler’ and ‘Transylvania’. Other members of the band were also part of the writing process, contributing to new creations like ‘Iron Maiden’.
The line-up wouldn’t last long, but now Steve had found his own direction, and he would never stray from it again. The next few years saw endless streams of band members going in and out, before Steve settled on the line-up that eventually recorded Maiden’s debut album in early 1980. The rest, as they say, is history.
Maybe the thought will occur to Steve, sitting in a plush seat on Maiden’s jumbo in the spring of 2016, that exactly 40 years earlier he was struggling to create his band in small East London pubs?
He pretty much made it last forever.
Source: Run To The Hills by Mick Wall.