MAIDEN HISTORY: Into Darkness, 1992-1993


As Iron Maiden struggled to stay on top of their game at the start of the 1990s, they suddenly faced the monumental blow of losing their classic lead singer. For this chapter of our in-depth series on Iron Maiden history, we look into Fear Of The Dark and the breaking of another line-up.

Singer Bruce Dickinson joined Iron Maiden in late 1981, replacing Paul Di’Anno. Within just three years he would be a fundamentally important part of creating the metal masterpieces The Number Of The Beast, Piece Of Mind and Powerslave. But after entering the 1990s with Maiden, Dickinson would feel an irresistible urge to leave after more than a decade as their lead singer. What happened on the way there, and what happened in the dark days of 1992 and 1993?


Bruce Dickinson on tour with Iron Maiden in 1990-91. After having become a metal legend with the band in the 1980s, he would soon make a decision that changed Maiden’s face and voice in the new decade.

Our in-depth look at Iron Maiden’s history began with a series of articles about the 1980s, the decade that made them. We started the journey by discussing the creation of the Maiden sound, and the coming and peak of their classic era with the arrival of Dickinson and drummer Nicko McBrain:

Birth of the Iron Maiden Sound, 1980-1981.
Dawn of the Classic Era, 1982-1983.
Height of the Classic Era, 1984-1985.

After becoming the world’s biggest metal band in the mid-1980s and successfully experimenting with their sound in the closing years of that decade, Iron Maiden achieved a status that made people expect a great deal from them. The making and meaning of the classic albums Somewhere In Time and Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son illuminates in particular the importance of guitarist Adrian Smith to Maiden’s legacy:

End of the Classic Era part 1, 1986-1987.
End of the Classic Era part 2, 1988-1989.

What is also clear in retrospect is how Dickinson expected Maiden to develop along lines that never sat well with the rest of the band, the singer hoping to emulate the radical stylistic experimentation of classic rock bands like Led Zeppelin. Dickinson was thus deeply disappointed with Somewhere In Time and only temporarily pleased with Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son. He wanted something else.

We are now moving into discussions about the 1990s, definitely the most controversial decade of the band’s existence. As it turned out, Dickinson and band-leading bassist Steve Harris took charge of moving Maiden away from their late 80s sound and style. This upset Smith greatly and forced him to leave the band as they started working on their first 90s record, No Prayer For The Dying:

Times of Change, 1990-1991.


The early 1990s line-up of Iron Maiden would comprise Janick Gers, Dave Murray, Bruce Dickinson, Nicko McBrain and Steve Harris.

The result of this was a steep drop in record sales and diminishing concert crowds, a trend that had already set in when they toured America in 1988. Opinions are what they are, and Maiden might have fared no better by sticking to their late 80s style, but it’s impossible to escape the fact that many fans and critics perceived No Prayer For The Dying to be Maiden’s poorest album to that point.

The paradox is that Maiden set out to alter their style in 1990 because they thought, along with many music journalists, that their late 1980s had been a stylistic error. What they had proudly proclaimed to be groundbreaking albums, Somewhere In Time and Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son, would just a few years later be viewed as embarrassments. One needed only to ask Dickinson in 1992, when he stated that Seventh Son “was a flawed album and the tour was too much … we forgot about the music.” And as he looked back on that period much later, he conceded that the very point with No Prayer “was to do something that was the opposite to Seventh Son.”

Maiden hyped this musical change as artistic integrity, and their new and low-key live shows as a conscious move away from the errors of their 1980s ways. But Harris also admitted that the shift to a less sophisticated sound was due to some fans being disappointed in the band’s late 80s style. Which means: Declining record sales, particularly in America, actually influenced Maiden’s course.


Maiden on tour in 1990-1991. A back-to-basics stage set might have been an artistic choice, but it might just as well have been a financial necessity in a time of steeply dropping record and ticket sales. The previously reliable income source of Eddie merchandise would provide less safety when the concert halls shrinked.

But the cure did not work. The No Prayer album and tour saw a significant drop from the American sales and attendance of Seventh Son, which had already declined by almost half from the levels of Somewhere In Time. This situation is the backdrop to the making of Fear Of The Dark in 1992 and Dickinson’s split from the band in 1993.

The clock was ticking.

Maiden returned to Steve Harris’ own Barnyard in Essex to make their ninth studio album. Their first project there had been to write Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son. Upon repeating the experience a couple of years later they had decided not only to write No Prayer For The Dying there, but to record it in the rehearsal room as well, using the Rolling Stone mobile unit. Following that, the third Barnyard adventure saw Maiden making use of what was by then Harris’ personal recording studio.


Steve Harris’ Essex mansion, where Maiden wrote and recorded Fear Of The Dark in early 1992 in Harris’ newly built studio facility.

This burst of Barnyard activity in early 1992 would yield Fear Of The Dark, possibly the most eclectic Maiden album of all, and one that is home to stadium-sized singalong anthems while at the same time being much criticized for a lack of quality and coherence. It was also by all intents and purposes a test run for how Maiden albums would be written and produced throughout the 1990s.

Many years later, in his autobiography, Dickinson would muse that Maiden had at this point “fallen under the spell of papal infallibility.” In his opinion, Maiden were now going along with whatever Harris wanted because he had a proven track record of leading the band to incredible peaks in the past. “Why is the Pope always right? Because he is the Pope, and can never be wrong,” Dickinson would write. He thought in retrospect that Maiden were becoming a band of yes-men that always deferred to Harris, and ultimately stagnated through not questioning their own complacency.

At the time producer Martin Birch would claim that the new studio was equal to any he had ever worked in, but Dickinson has often been outspoken in his criticism of the place, later saying that “there were big limitations on that studio” and blaming unnamed people for not wanting “to voice their unease”. He saw it as a set-up that inevitably put Harris even more in charge of Maiden’s productions: Fear Of The Dark was recorded in Steve’s studio because he wanted it to be. He’d bought it and he’d paid for it and the band were gonna pay him back for using his studio.”

One of co-producer Harris’ jobs on the Fear Of The Dark project was getting drummer McBrain to de-tune his snare. “I think that half the trouble’s been he’s bloody deaf!”, said Harris after having convinced McBrain to ditch his thin and very loud snare.

Another issue would be the guitar sound.


Janick Gers on stage with Maiden in the early 1990s. He had already worked well alongside Dickinson on Tattooed Millionaire and would fit equally well with Harris as writing began for Fear Of The Dark.

In the wake of Smith’s departure, Harris and Birch had to combine original guitarist Dave Murray with new arrival Janick Gers. Although popular with fans for his enthusiasm and generosity, Gers’ playing style could scarcely be more different from Smith’s. How to match Davey would always be the question when it comes to the Maiden guitar sound, and Dickinson writes in his memoirs:

“An essential piece of the Iron Maiden jigsaw was now missing, and the new piece, in the guise of Janick Gers, didn’t match the space. His style was clearly different, but we were bereft of the melodic duelling with Dave Murray’s more florid style.”
Bruce Dickinson

One could argue that Gers was too close to Murray in both style and tone, and that Maiden lost a crucial dimension when Smith left the building, taking his Les Pauls, Ibanezes and Lados with him. Two duelling Stratocasters were left for Maiden to orchestrate, and a sense of groove and melody left with Smith.

At any rate, with the release of the album in 1992, Harris seemed very happy with the more muscular drum sound, and pleased with the writing input of the other band members. If Dickinson felt that Harris was getting too all-powerful, Harris felt that Maiden were diversifying.


Janick Gers, far right, could not match Dave Murray, far left, the way that Adrian Smith had done to create the classic Maiden sound. But he quickly became a key songwriter for the band.

This time Gers also got songwriting credits, unlike on the previous album. Which illuminates a piece of Maiden politics that is not too well known. Information is easily available, even in the official Maiden biography, that Gers co-wrote Bring Your Daughter…To The Slaughter with Dickinson. The guitarist says that Dickinson “brought out this song that sounded AC/DC-ish, and I said, ‘Nah, it wants to be more like…’ So I put the chords in and then we re-did the chorus.”

The track was held off the singer’s first solo album, Tattooed Millionaire, having been intended only as a soundtrack one-off anyway, and was subsequently re-recorded for Maiden’s No Prayer For The Dying in 1990. With Dickinson as the sole credited writer.

Why not credit Gers? It seems to be a matter of policy. Smith might have co-written a couple of late tracks for Killers, but he’s not credited. And Dickinson certainly co-wrote tracks for The Number Of The Beast, without being credited. The official explanation for the singer’s absence from the Beast credits was always the Samson publishing dispute, but it seems unlikely that he would have been credited in any case. These were the respective first albums for Smith and Dickinson, and Harris was almost completely honest about the policy upon the release of Gers’ first Maiden album in 1990:

“You get the same wage anyone would get when they first join. Before you can talk about royalties you have to find out if this thing is really gonna work first. It was the same when Bruce joined. Or Nicko. If it works out OK on the world tour we’ll see about royalties then.”
Steve Harris

Royalties could mean several things, but it certainly includes songwriting royalties. Did new Maiden members sign away the right to credits on their first record upon joining the band? It would probably be a sensible policy in terms of protecting Maiden from whatever legal fallout there could be with members joining and leaving at a rapid pace. But not much later the policy would be altered as Maiden changed lead singers for the first time in more than a decade.


Left foot forward. Iron Maiden in a photo shoot for the release of their 1992 album Fear Of The Dark.

Gers co-wrote a lot of the 1992 material with either Harris or Dickinson, showing a knack for working smoothly with both. Tracks like Be Quick Or Be Dead and Wasting Love would only happen because Gers provided a new source of inspiration for an increasingly restless Dickinson. Harris said that he and Dickinson didn’t write together for Fear Of The Dark “purely because he got together with Janick, and then I got together with Janick, and by then we had enough.” Which might have been a lost opportunity to work some things out that would soon be a major fork in the road for Dickinson and a major problem for Maiden.

In 1992 Dickinson also started work on a second solo album. Tattooed Millionaire had done well enough for the record company to cough up more cash, and Dickinson got back together with Millionaire producer Chris Tsangarides to work on new material. Inevitable, for sure. But also the beginning of a process that would culminate in Bruce Dickinson leaving Iron Maiden the following year.

Dickinson divided his time between touring with Iron Maiden and recording new solo material. The Maiden live experience was vital in 1992, highlighted by the Donington Monsters Of Rock headlining show that August, but Dickinson must have been struck by the poor attendance in the US where Maiden were playing smaller venues and fewer dates than ever. If he and Harris had hoped that Fear Of The Dark would rejuvenate their commercial relevance Stateside, they were faced with utter failure.

By late 1992 Dickinson also decided that his new solo effort was not working. Tsangarides and the new material was ditched and soul-searching ensued for the ambitious singer. What gave Dickinson pause Tsangarides did not know, but he saw how the project might not put enough distance between the solo artist and his day job:

“He found a band, basically a pre-set band called Skin, and he went into rehearsals with them on these songs he’d written. It was a bit heavier, Janick wasn’t there. And I think possibly a load of the tunes should have been for Maiden.”
Chris Tsangarides

Dickinson felt like he was on autopilot, not challenging either himself or his audience, just steaming ahead into waters that were too well charted already: “I got two thirds of the way through and I was utterly depressed, totally miserable.” In retrospect this is clearly a time in Dickinson’s career when he was publicly dishonest. He talked up Maiden’s Fear Of The Dark as being a modern and groundbreaking album for a new age, while at the same time privately agonizing over not being modern and groundbreaking with either Maiden or his new solo project.


Bruce Dickinson in 1992, wanting to be enthusiastic about Maiden’s new adventure, but feeling the urge to go elsewhere.

The frustration of “trying to conform to the established Maiden routine” was getting to Dickinson. He was, by his own later admission, “bored and desperately looking for other things to do.” Ironically, Maiden manager Rod Smallwood provided the push that would make the difference. Upon hearing the late 1992 recordings he told the singer that making a solo album should actually mean something.

“Rod pulled me to one side and said, ‘Look, if you’re going to do a solo record, don’t just glibly do a solo record. Do a really fucking good one.’ And that’s when I realised I was just going along with the flow, making my solo album in the same way we were motoring on with Maiden. So I went, ‘Right, full stop,’ and I pulled the whole thing.”
Bruce Dickinson

First order of business would be to visit L.A. in early 1993 and either rework the first attempt or start a second one, with producer Keith Olsen. Dickinson remembers that “I wanted a dark and emotionally jagged record, in line with my thoughts at the time.” The results were so different that Smallwood possibly kicked himself for having opened a can of worms. When the manager visited Dickinson during his L.A. experiment he found a troubled singer, but one with a clearer mind: His time in Maiden was up.

The point of Fear Of The Dark was to win fans. We’ve all heard the Maiden boys boasting that they don’t care about sales and just do what they love, but there is actually plenty of evidence to the contrary. Not that Maiden would necessarily be cynical trend-chasers, but they were at least highly self-conscious in the early 1990s. Dickinson made his thoughts about the new album clear when they toured it in 1992:

“It sounds really 1990s. And there are people saying ‘Oh shit, there’s no reason why we can’t play Iron Maiden now’ and that’s the key to it out there. Getting your record out on the media.”
Bruce Dickinson

With this he echoed Harris’ earlier statements about getting real and begging forgiveness from record buyers for their late 1980s. The inference being that it was clearly off course and should be filed away as an honest mistake. What better way to prove the point than recording the 1992 live shows for a long awaited live album?

While Dickinson was exploring new avenues with his solo material, Harris was producing and mixing the new Maiden live project in early 1993. Martin Birch had decided to retire, and the kingdom of the Barnyard would now be ruled by Steve Harris alone. It was completely at odds with Dickinson’s need for experimentation.


Janick Gers and Steve Harris on stage during the 1992 Fear Of The Dark tour, which was archived to provide live album material.

As Dickinson later said about Harris: “Steve is not that flexible a personality, it’s just the way he is, you know. He knows pretty much what he wants and I think he tends to exclude a lot of options.” In the singer’s view it was increasingly unlikely that he would succeed in pulling Maiden in any kind of adventurous direction. The band would follow their chosen track in perpetuity, with Harris now installed as de facto producer of all things Maiden in his own studio.

Dickinson was feeling resigned, about to give up his role in the Harris-dominated dynamics of Iron Maiden. A few years down the road in the mid-1990s he would be very clear about his own unhappiness and his sense of being helpless in steering Maiden when Harris was completely in charge of both audio and video:

“For example, Rod the manager would ask me, “Is there any chance you could get Steve to try and do this?”, and I just said, “Fuck, why don’t you ask him yourself?” Why come to me? Steve, at that point, started getting very interested in the idea of himself being a producer, and he was already editing Iron Maiden’s concert videos. Something which I argued with him against as well. I said that I didn’t think much of his editing, basically.”
Bruce Dickinson

The Maiden founder for his part was very proud of his first proper producer’s job and Maiden’s first live album since the classic Live After Death many years earlier: “If someone hasn’t seen Maiden before and was to ask, ‘What are Maiden about?’, I’d hand them this.” The idea with the 1993 live releases was to be as painfully live as tapes off the sound desk can be, including “the odd bum note here and there” as Harris put it. The line from the band, one that was readily repeated by many journalists, was that this was a marked improvement over Live After Death.

Maiden were still running to distance themselves from the 1980s.

But the original plan for the 1993 live onslaught is fuzzy, with Harris later stating that the material was brought out earlier than intended because of Dickinson’s shock announcement. It’s hard to tell what this means, since the bassist was done mixing the first of these albums by the time the singer said he wanted to leave. In any case more recordings were lined up as Maiden changed their setlist for the 1993 leg to include nearly forgotten gems like Prowler and Where Eagles Dare for the first time in ages.

Harris faced the unenviable situation of rolling out his producer debut with Maiden’s A Real Live One in March 1993, while getting ready for another Maiden tour, even as the lead singer announced his departure from the band. Dickinson would stay on for the Real Live Tour and drop out of the band in the summer of 1993.


Iron Maiden during the final days of Dickinson’s first period with them, in the summer of 1993. The final photo shoot with this line-up, if the French text is to be believed.

Dickinson tried to frame this as a good way to go, but both the singer and the band failed spectacularly to make the Real Live Tour a worthy farewell. In retrospect it’s easy to see that Dickinson should have kept his departure a secret. The singer admits that going on stage with Maiden at that point felt like being in “a morgue” some of the nights. He was naive in thinking that leaving Maiden could be celebrated. He also underestimated the grief that fans and band alike would feel at seeing him go.

Kerrang! sent a writer to see the band on the road in 1993, and he delivered a piece that opened with a series of expletives uttered by McBrain in a hotel bar at 2 in the morning. It was pathetically poor journalism, dirt for dirt’s sake, but the writer was in the right place at the wrong time:

“Good fucking riddance! I can’t wait to get to the end of this tour and find a new singer. In my heart of hearts, I don’t want to be doing this. I want us to find a new singer and do a new album. We ain’t dead yet.”
Nicko McBrain

What anyone could tell, was that the rest of Maiden did not see it coming. Even Gers, known to always have been close to Dickinson, had been blind-sided by the announcement that the singer would be leaving, musing a couple of years later: “I still don’t know why he left us. A few weeks before he told us he was leaving I’d had a chat with him about the band and he thought everything was going all right. When I heard he was leaving us, I was totally surprised.”

Harris did his best to play down the resentment that seethed in his band on the 1993 tour, but failed to hide his own sense of disappointment and betrayal: “Personally, I think he’s maybe made a mistake, because I can’t see why he couldn’t do both his solo thing and Maiden.”

What all of this was down to is predictable.

There had been one key trigger event for Dickinson as he pondered artistic life beyond Maiden’s 1980s triumph. During the Keith Olsen sessions he had recorded a track called Original Sin, unreleased to this day, in which he faced his troubled relationship with his father:

“Tell me father where have you been
All these years, in original sin
I saw you each day, we had nothing to say
And now it’s too late to begin”
Lyrics for Original Sin

Dickinson has later stated that “it was those words that made me wonder what I was doing in Iron Maiden.” The singer and writer, in short the artist, had come to a crossroads where he could not pretend that he didn’t see the choice in front of him: “I suddenly thought, ‘Well, that’s probably the most honest I’ve ever been on a record.’ I thought, ‘If you want to, you can stay with Maiden, but things are sure not gonna change.’ Or I could take a chance and go somewhere else.”

Dickinson’s worry was seemingly about himself and his artistic relevance to the world around him, and his concern about his place in the ever shifting landscape of rock music spurred him on. As he writes in his autobiography: “My problem was to establish where I belonged in modern rock music, if indeed I belonged in it at all.”

But there was something deeper than narcisism behind the urge and discomfort that the singer was feeling at the time. As Dickinson recently told journalist Charlie Rose:

“I was having my little artistic dark night of the soul. […] I realized I had no idea how to be creative outside of the framework of Iron Maiden, and it terrified me. I was thinking, ‘I am in an institution, and I will die in this institution if I don’t do something about it, what can I do?’ […] I had to figure out whether or not actually I belonged in the universe as a singer anymore.”
Bruce Dickinson

This issue of belonging to something of perceived artistic worth would be the deciding factor in the end. Dickinson was done with fantasy. In the era of grunge he craved the bare-bones rawness of putting his demons out in the open, and there was also the lure of unknown adventures: “I began to feel that somewhere there was something else outside of Maiden that I was missing.” In his own words he “wore a groove in the kitchen floor” while debating the potential split with himself.

The outcome was finally decided when Dickinson read the Henry Miller quote about all growth being an unpremeditated leap in the dark. In either late February or early March of 1993 Maiden manager Smallwood was told that Bruce wanted to leave the band. “It had to stop for me, because it was getting false,” Dickinson recalled years later. “It wasn’t a shared dream anymore.” Smallwood did not look impressed, did not say much, but asked if Dickinson had thought it through.

He had. To a certain extent.

At the other end of the split sat a dumbfounded Steve Harris.


Harris and Dickinson during the Real Live Tour in 1993.

Putting a brave face on things is pretty much a Harris reflex. But two things made the trial of early 1993 particularly tough on Mr. Maiden. First of all, Dickinson caught him at one of his lowest points ever, just as Steve’s divorce from Lorraine happened. They had met as teenagers and had been an item ever since, marrying and having four kids. Now it was irrevocably over.

The second point that troubled Harris was the fact that Dickinson had never talked to him about his urge to leave Iron Maiden. When Dickinson had first gone solo in 1990, a lot of people wanted to know if Harris was worried. His answers would always be stoic, insisting that the guys in Maiden could do whatever they liked as long as they still wanted to be a part of Maiden. In fact, Steve had been sure that Bruce would talk to him if he was ever uncertain about his commitment to Maiden. Some years later Harris voiced his frustration:

“When he did leave, he basically went to every magazine in the world and said bad things about Iron Maiden. He cited reasons for leaving that had never been discussed at band meetings and that got to me.”
Steve Harris

Dickinson disputes this in his autobiography, claiming that “I had tried to raise my concerns about the sound and production of our albums, about the assumption of perfection and the lack of honest criticism within the band.” Whether he raised these concerns with Harris directly, Dickinson does not tell.

When Dickinson told manager Smallwood that the quest for his ultimate solo voice would necessitate leaving Maiden, the singer said he would call Harris to explain. But Smallwood nixed it and jumped on a plane to see Harris himself, a misplaced sense of protection leading the manager to cut Dickinson off from an exchange that could have been meaningful. As Dickinson said many years later:

“I should have told Rod to fuck off and done it anyway. We might have compared notes and I’d still have been in the band, because at least some of this was about talking – real talking, meaningful talking.”
Bruce Dickinson

On the 1993 tour Bruce would say about Steve: “He’s not really the kind of bloke you could sit down with in a pub and pour your heart out to.” And Steve would say about Bruce: “When Bruce has problems, he doesn’t really let ’em out. I think I like to talk about problems more than he does.”

They were not predisposed to talking this through.

A sense of complacency was probably the fundamental reason why a 34 years old Bruce Dickinson decided to leave Iron Maiden. Thinking back to his early days with Maiden he said, “Me and Steve used to argue and fight like cat and dog for the first couple of albums, which arguably were the best two albums that we made.” By 1985 and the career-defining Live After Death Dickinson had decided that getting along with folks just fine was a more comfortable way of living. Maiden would be a quite civilised operation through the late 1980s.


Iron Maiden on tour in 1993, trying as hard as they can to be civilised despite the resentment that is festering beneath the surface. How British.

Ending his time in Maiden would not be that straight forward though. When the band took to the road for their Real Live Tour in spring and early summer of 1993, allegations flew that Dickinson did not perform to the best of his ability. Harris and McBrain swore that he only gave his best at high profile gigs, and key members of the crew agreed. The singer didn’t quite rebut it when he explained himself:

“I would never expect Steve to understand that it was difficult for me to go on stage, emotionally difficult, because it’s never emotionally difficult for Steve to go on stage. So I thought what I’ll do is if I really feel like running around like a maniac I will, but if I don’t I’ll just go on and sing my bollocks off.”
Bruce Dickinson

Everyone but Gers would later go on record saying that Bruce was “a shambles” on the Real Live Tour, only performing his best for the gigs in big cities and “lapsing into incoherent, half-hearted performances for the rest of the time”, as the official Maiden biography puts it. It’s a very delicate subject, and one that only fans who were there can really speak to, but Maiden’s long-time tour manager Dickie Bell also stated for the record:

“When he was good, he was very, very good, but when he was bad, he was fucking awful. He didn’t even bother with the singing part some nights, as far as I could see. But Bruce does play mind games – he acts like he doesn’t really know what’s going on around him half the time, but he never misses a trick.”
Dickie Bell

The wound of Bruce leaving Maiden would go deep.

Dickinson would never agree with the criticism, obviously, and defended his position: “I know the sea of wisdom from Steve is that I didn’t give a fuck. I suddenly realised that I didn’t have a clue exactly how to play it. I think for them to assume that you can just turn on a performance like a tap is… In a sense it’s kind of symptomatic of the whole thing, you know?”

When Harris was talking on the record for the official biography in the late 1990s, he was unable to conceal his hurt and disappointment and said, “The worst thing was, if he’d been fucking crap over the whole tour, you can sort of understand it. When all the press were there, it was a different story. He had no problem turning on a performance then.”

These must count as some of the harshest words ever said in public between members of Iron Maiden.

And despite what the singer said, what was emotionally difficult for Steve Harris was keeping Iron Maiden going when Bruce Dickinson left. He went along with the singer’s idea that they would go out with a bang by doing a final tour with him, something Harris says he regrets. More than that, the Maiden chief readily admits that he considered retirement when Dickinson left the band:

“I spoke to Davey on the phone and I suppose, at that point, I did have a doubt as to whether to carry on or not. I thought, ‘I just don’t have the strength at the moment.’ ”
Steve Harris

As Maiden came close to shutting down long before their time, it was soft-spoken guitarist Dave Murray that would provide the spark of leadership that turned the ship around and set it on a steady course for the 1990s battles ahead.


Dave Murray at Steve Harris’ side during the troubled 1993 tour, all smiles as ever. At this crucial point he would prove to be a key influence.

The personal darkness of divorce and band break-up almost brought the final curtain down for Steve Harris’ life’s work, Iron Maiden. However, one of the people involved had been at Harris’ side since the very inception of the band in the 1970s. Dave Murray had joined Maiden in 1976 only to be fired by an eccentric singer and a scheming guitarist. When Harris later restructured his band he built it around Murray, knowing that the guitarist was more important to them than anyone else at the time.

When Maiden met up to rehearse for their 1993 tour the chief was close to calling it quits for his band. Harris, Murray, McBrain and Gers found it hard to concentrate on the music, and probably dreaded the arrival of Dickinson for the final stages of preparations. At one point, several beers into their collective depression, Murray had enough of it:

“We were all really down, Steve especially, and we were even talking about packing it in. And we were all sitting around talking. It was probably the first real long, serious talk the four of us had had together in ages. I suddenly just got fed up talking about it and went, ‘Look, why the fuck should we give up just ’cause he is? Bollocks to him. Why should he stop us playing?’ I hadn’t really thought about it. It just came out.”
Dave Murray

It turned the mood around. Iron Maiden emerged from that talk with a sense of purpose and fighting spirit. Harris said later that Murray “gave me the strength to believe we shouldn’t give up. In the end, the strength came from Davey.” 

This very important decision in Maiden history brings back to mind the words of Steve “Loopy” Newhouse, the Maiden roadie that observed the early relationship between Murray and the band leader in the late 1970s: “He and Steve became so close, that if one made a decision, the other would back it up straight away.”

And when Maiden had made the decision and battled through a final tour with Dickinson, ending with the television spectacle Raising Hell in August 1993, their renewed collective strength would be put to use in finding a new singer.

By the end of 1993, Maiden were cleaning house and releasing their second and third live albums of the year, A Real Dead One and Live At Donington. At the same time they were going through a massive amount of audition tapes of singers that were lining up to replace Bruce Dickinson.

Maiden were looking for an x factor.

Click here for the next chapter of Maiden History, the coming of Blaze Bayley and the making of The X Factor!

Sources: Kerrang! No 306 (September 1990), Kerrang! No 387 (April 1992), Kerrang! No 388 (April 1992), Metal Hammer No 8 Vol 7 (August 1992), Kerrang! No 432 (February 1993), Kerrang! No 441 (May 1993), Kerrang! No 487 (March 1994), Metal Hammer (June 1994), A Conversation With Bruce Dickinson (1996), Run To The Hills – The Official Biography (Mick Wall, 2001), Classic Rock (November 2001), Iron Maiden in the Studio (Jake Brown, 2011), Bruce Dickinson: Maiden Voyage (Joe Shooman, 2016), Loopyworld: The Iron Maiden Years (Steve “Loopy” Newhouse, 2016), What Does This Button Do? (Bruce Dickinson, 2017), Bruce Dickinson on Charlie Rose (2017).

22 thoughts on “MAIDEN HISTORY: Into Darkness, 1992-1993

  1. I think the song Bring Your Daughter… To The Slaughter i written all by Bruce ! 😉
    On the Tattooed Millionaire expanded edition of 2005 and on The Best Of Bruce Dickinson compilation it is said tha Bruce write this song by himslef.

    Great article i really enjoyed when I reading it.
    If Fear Of The Dark album was without a couple of songs it would absolutely been a classic – without Fear Is The Key,The Apparition,Weekend Warrior and song between The Figitive and Chains Of Misery I like both songs , It would have been a classic Maiden album !

    And I really like No Prayer For The Dying album – but I think it would have been even better if Janick Gers writes some of the songs – he is a really magical writer , and I don’t get why on the albums he don’t write more then 2 songs. Adrian is the better musician , but I personally think Janick si better at writing song – and Davey is something between them – writes most goods songs it has it’s moments and a not so good songs ( fore example Age Of Innocence – the only song I don’t like from the reunited albums for Brave New World to The Book Of Souls) ;):):)

    • It’s clear that Bruce and Janick wrote Bring Your Daughter together. Here’s Janick in the official Maiden bio by Mick Wall: “Bruce called me and I went ’round to see him and he brought out this song that sounded AC/DC-ish, and I said, ‘Nah, it wants to be more like…’ So I put the chords in and then we re-did the chorus.” (Page 281 in the 2001 revised edition)

      But like I write in the article above, Adrian co-wrote for Killers without getting an official credit, and Bruce co-wrote for Beast without getting credited. So up to the point of Blaze joining the band, the policy was to not allow new members writing credits (and royalties, as Steve explains) for their first album.

      • Ah my bad 🙂 Thanks for the information and answer !
        I really want to know what you think about Fear of the Dark album being a classic without the songs that I move out .

      • Interesting what you say about songwriting credits, especially when a departed member (Adrian) got a credit in No Prayer for the Dying. I must admit I am curious, as this is completely news to me: what songs did Adrian co-write for Killers? Thanks!

        Regarding Bruce’s contribution to The Number of the Beast, it is a well-known fact that he co-wrote Children of the Damned, The Prisoner (even Rod mentions about this song on 12 Wasted Years), Run to the Hills, and Gangland, but his case was completely different. He could not be credited as a result of his contract from the Samson days. The management were able to buy his freedom later in 1982 when the band started to make enough money and Bruce had later to repay them for that, as stated in Classic Rock Magazine not long ago.

      • Yeah ! Adrian co-wrote Hooks in You – I think it was the lyrics and the music is written by Bruce.
        But why Adrian writes that kind of song at least not metal at all , maybe it is more rock – it’s kinda strange for Maiden but on No Prayer and Fear also have more rock style songs – and I wonder , Adrian left because he was not happy with the band direction that they used to take – more raw style like Killers , without synths and keybords and then he co-wrote a song like Hooks in You – that is strange for me and I ask myself this question , but I can’t answer it !

        I think maybe is Bruce wrote the lyrics and Adrian music , because he writes most of the music stuff in the songs not Adrian lyrics and Bruce music like it says on the album.

  2. Great article!
    I have always wondered that if Bruce really was so sick of doing the same old Maiden routine musically, then why would he write and release songs such as The Tower, Silver Wings, Broken (well, the intro at least), and Road to hell to mention some. All very Maiden in style.

    That said, alot of his solo material is far from Maiden and personally I rate his 90-s albums much higher than Maidens albums in the same period- especially from 1995-98, when Maiden in my opinion released their two weakest albums by far.

    • Thanks, Jørn! As you say, the stuff he did immediately after Maiden (Picasso and Skunkworks) was very different, so it’s clear that he had an urge to go somewhere else.

  3. Awesome insightful article. Took me right back to 92-93 when Maiden was in a strange place. Look forward to more installments.

  4. @Ghost: Certainly Maiden have often played up the story that Bruce couldn’t write for Maiden because of his Samson publishing contract. Even if that were 100% true (and it’s hard to be completely convinced when it comes to Maiden…) it seems he would not have been credited for that writing in any case. As quoted from Kerrang! no 306 (September 1990) in the article, Steve states that no new member gets royalties for work on their first album. So they basically agree to not get co-writing credits, like Janick in the case of Bring Your Daughter. This policy changed with Blaze.

    I guess I want to challenge the notion that publishing issues was the only reason for not crediting Bruce on Beast.

    Obviously this also means that Adrian would not get any credit for work he might have done on Killers. The issue is vaguely described in the Mick Wall book, when it is said that Adrian had “a hand” in getting Murders In The Rue Morgue and Prodigal Son ready for the album. It’s probably debatable what it means, but we all know Adrian doesn’t avoid contributing. In any case, having “a hand” in getting songs ready would never stop Steve from taking a co-writing credit later on.

    In the late 80s, even after it was known among fans that Bruce co-wrote several Beast songs, Steve still claimed (in the Mick Wall book, probably with a straight face too) that Bruce didn’t write anything on Beast and only settled down with the band once he finally started writing with them for Piece. Steve doesn’t mind putting an occasional lie on the record, like claiming that Live After Death had no overdubs…

    We could add to this that previous members of the band, before the first album line-up, seem to have had their hands in writing a thing or two that they were never credited for. It all adds up to a policy, and Steve himself actually admitted it way back in 1990.

    • Well, if we are going to go with quotes from articles in the press, the most detailed version pf events was on the Classic Rock article I mentioned earlier. The Samson contract did exist and Sanctuary bought Bruce’s freedom; Bruce had to pay back to Sanctuary the amount they had spent on freeing him. Both Rod and Bruce said the same thing (they disagreed on the amount though).

      Regarding Bring your Daughter to the Slaughter, the songwriting credits predate Maiden recording and releasing the song (i.e. Bruce’s version was published before). If anything, I feel Janick not getting credited (in case he did contribute enough to the song) probably had more to do with whatever contract was in place with Zomba for the film than anything else.

      Either way, we can only speculate, can’t we?

      • No, we can do more. We can take Steve at his word that people never got royalties (meaning no credits) for their first album with the band. The obvious exception being the very first Maiden album, but even then previous members were excluded from credits.

        I’m not saying the Samson dispute isn’t real, I’m saying that Maiden’s policy as Harris stated it would mean no credits for Bruce either way on that album.

      • Fair enough Christer, but I personally think assuming that things in 1990 were the same like in 1981 in terms of royalties is a bit of a leap of faith. 😉

        By the way, glad to see the website being regularly updated again.

      • Thanks! But no, the leap is to assume it was different in 1981 when Steve states in 1990 that everyone gets the same deal when they first join – salary, no royalties – and all the evidence until 1995 supports that. Sorry, but taking Steve at his word when the evidence supports him is not a leap, the opposite is. Again, I’m not disputing the Samson issue, I’m pointing out a very interesting Steve quote that few people know about which sheds light on Maiden’s policy regarding royalties and thus songwriting credits.

      • Do you have the question Steve was answering with that quote? It would be useful to have the quote in the context of the interview. Thanks.

      • The interviewer (Mick Wall) asks if Janick gets a wage. Steve says yeah. Wall asks “Royalties?” and Steve says no and explains it like I’ve quoted it. In my opinion the bit I quoted was clear enough, but I’ve added the part were Steve explicitly says “It was the same when Bruce joined. Or Nicko.” Is that more persuasive than Steve stating that Janick got the same as anyone when they first joined?

      • Thanks for reproducing the whole quote verbatim. If completely true (it would not be the first time Steve has lied about something), it shows that Steve and Rod are meaner than I thought.

      • They sure keep a tight grip. But on the other hand, once you’re through the first album and tour you’re very well taken care of. And I’m sure the wage people got for their first year or so was good. At least good enough for no one to publicly complain about the arrangement at any point in time.

  5. Too bad Bruce and Steve couldn’t converse. Maybe Bruce stays and maybe Steve allows Bruce to explore in Maiden. Bruce is definitely a creative force as Accident of Birth and The Chemical Wedding shows. Both of those albums were fantastic and clearly were much better than anything Maiden produced from No Prayer to Virtual XI.

  6. That was a really great read, good structured and with plenty of in-depth research. I have always seen Davey as the soul of Iron Maiden and now even more. Keep ’em coming mate, great work!

  7. I was kid in late 80s and thought that Maiden were huge everywhere. After reading this interesting article, I found out that the attendance to their shows in America had started to declined as early as on Seventh Tour – and by almost half from the levels of Somewhere on Tour. And back then they filled venues such as Memorial Coliseum in Texas that has capacity of only 3000. So Maiden were small time in USA, weren’t they? Bands like Van Halen or Ratt played to 20 000 in the mid 80s.

    • Maiden were a huge metal band in the US in 1984-87, but they could obviously never compete with commercial rock giants like Van Halen, Def Leppard or Bon Jovi. They are bigger these days than they ever were before, though.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s