So much has already been written about Den and Clive joining the band that it seems pointless going over the same old shit, so I will keep this short and to the point.
After recording the first album the best thing for the band was obviously being chucked back out on the road again. But this time we had an album to promote.
We started with a small stint, which was meant to be the Metal For Muthas tour but because the album sales had done so well, we were given the chance to do something bigger and better. When Rod said we had been offered the Judas Priest tour we couldn't believe it.
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"Oh, alright then", we said, and went home to pack our bags. A month on the road supporting Judas Priest was so much better than a month of never knowing where your next meal was coming from. We may have only been put on £30 a week but, on tours with bands like Judas Priest, you never went short of anything. We were all put in decent hotels, had three meals a day and were looked after really well by Priest's road manager, Dickie Bell.
Prior to the Priest tour, Paul Di'Anno had done an interview with Sounds' Geoff (Deaf) Barton and had said something along the lines that Maiden would blow Priest off the stage. It's bound to be archived somewhere, check it out.
This caused a little bit of angst with KK Downing, Priest's guitarist, so much so that KK wouldn't even look at us, band or crew. This lasted for a little while, until Sheffield.
It was Steve Harris' birthday. We had been put up in a nice hotel called the Royal Court (I think), on the outskirts of the City, and everyone had been invited to Steve's birthday bash in the hotel bar.
Things were going quite well until there was a crash at the hotel's front doors. Ian Hill (Priest's bass player) had tried to drive the band's car into the foyer, to the point where you could actually hear the door frames creaking. A few of the Priest crew and band spilt nicely into the party, and chaos reigned for about an hour.
Then things got slightly out of hand. Tony Slee, one of the lighting crew, was seen walking around with a toilet. Apparently he found it outside one of the rooms. The hotel was having some refurbishment done at the time so that was plausible, but then he dropped it in the reception area. Needless to say the Police were called but, by the time they arrived, the Priest boys had scarpered back to their own hotel.
After that night we were all good buddies. Even KK was talking to all of us and we felt we had become part of the Heavy Metal fraternity. Rob Halford had convinced himself that Dave Lights was gay and chatted him up constantly.
One of the gigs we did on the tour was at the Southampton Gaumont Theatre (now the Mayflower). Lovely venue and a big enough stage to accommodate both bands, but not enough width to store our gear when we'd finished, so we loaded our equipment straight onto the truck, went back in to say goodbye to the rest of the band and said that we would see them tomorrow in Aberdeen.
Priest were about 20 minutes into their set and we were on our way out to the truck when one of us, and I'm still not sure who, just happened to hit an aluminium A-Frame ladder, which crashed to the stage floor, making an almighty racket.
Unfortunately, it happened during the very quiet bit in 'Victim Of Changes' (once she was wonderful... etc)
Not that we cared. Me, Lights and Pete were quickly legging it out of the door, into the truck and away. Nothing was ever mentioned about it again, but it did happen.
There were lots of pranks that Judas Priest tried on us, but we'd like to think we were as smart as they were. When the tour first started they tried to mess about with our sound but Dougie Hall, our new sound guy, was equal to anything they had. He had his own sound rack (complicated gizmo for the uninitiated). He just wired it into their system and over-rode everything they had set up.
Judas Priest soon realised that we were not here for the fun of it and started taking us seriously. Come the end of the tour we had all become good friends and, within a couple of years, a few of their crew were working for Iron Maiden, notably Marcus Cowe (now deceased, RIP) and Dickie Bell, who stayed with Maiden for over 25 years.
We had also started to use the same lighting company, Meteorlites, who were based in Baldock or Hitchin, Hertfordshire.
Two of the Meteorlites guys on the Priest tour became Iron Maiden tour regulars too, Roger Gribowicz and Derek Goddard (RIP). I'm sure there were others, but the Maiden crew family was getting bigger all the time.
Through Meteorlites we managed to meet a lot of influential people and things just kept getting bigger and better.
We were introduced to a guy called Charlie Kail, who owned a company called Brilliant Constructions. We had an idea for a drum riser and we asked Charlie if he could build it. Charlie invited us up to Baldock for a weekend to see what we could come up with, which apart from getting done what we had set out to do, turned into absolute chaos.
Baldock is a typically small English town, surrounded by countryside in every direction. The high street is approximately a mile long with a staggering 16 pubs along its length. And trust me, we staggered to every last one of them. My head hurts just thinking about it.
We still had some work to do the following morning and, although nobody was in the mood, we somehow got the job finished.
I've not been back to Baldock since but I feel I'll have to go back there eventually, even if it's to reclaim my sanity and, more importantly, my stomach.
When the drum riser was eventually completed a couple of weeks later, Iron Maiden went back on the road to conclude the Metal For Muthas tour that we'd started before the Judas Priest thing had got in our way.
This tour was a logistical nightmare, but such a massive success.
As usual, the agency and the promoters had got it completely arse about face and were sending us all over the place. (I hope that didn't rhyme too much).
Up and down the country, then from side to side, only this time it was different. This time someone else was doing the driving and navigating.
Me and the rest of the crew were on a bus/coach. But not any old bus/coach. Probably the oldest bus/coach the management could acquire, complete with the oldest bus/coach driver they could find... Nah!!!! That's taking it too far. The driver, bless him, did everything he could to keep us happy.
I was new to all this but I had heard tales of crews travelling in buses with sleeping areas and somewhere to sit and watch a movie whilst travelling from town to town.
Not us. We had a normal 52 seater coach and the best they could do was turn a few seats around to face each other so as you could try and stretch out. I kid you not.
We did 50 shows in 56 days in these conditions, and fuck knows how we managed to stay sane.
On this tour Maiden had brought in two guys from the USA, Michael Kenney, who was to work as Steve's roadie and is still there today, and Doug Hall, who was Maiden's sound man for about 32 years in all.
I owe Michael a huge debt of gratitude for introducing me to a few bands during those days, one being Journey.
Even now, if I hear a journey track, especially 'Any Way You Want It', I think back to those days with a wry smile. Thanks Michael.
The tour itself, as I said previously, was the Metal For Muthas tour with Maiden headlining, Praying Mantis as support and our old friend Neil Kaye as DJ and warm up. (He'll love that. Neil always thought himself as the main act with these two little bands to help him along. If only... lol).
The tour had many names, one being the 'Heads Will Roll' tour due to the amount of sackings although, from my memory, there weren't that many. The other was the 'Chicken and Chips' tour named simply because the promoters at each venue thought that we all wanted chicken and chips for our dinner every night. Obviously the cheap option for them, but it came to a head one night in Bath.
Pete Bennett, the Praying Mantis drum roadie, decided that enough was enough. He didn't want chicken and chips again, and subsequently head butted Maiden's Tour Manager, Adrian Enfield Bance.
It didn't make that much of a difference if I'm honest. The cheap option was always going to be chicken and chips, and that's the way it stayed, until later tours when the band took caterers with them. By then, chicken and chips was off the menu. Well, chicken anyway.
By the end of the Metal For Muthas/Chickens Will Roll tour we had already heard talk of us being the support band for Kiss in Europe. But we had one little gig to do first. Reading Festival.