||LOOPY'S WORLD: PART TWELVE - READING AND BEYOND
Steve 'Loopy' Newhouse
Pete Bennett, Praying Mantis' drum roadie, had tried his hardest to get into Clive's pants and it worked for a while. Clive had done what he had threatened to do for ages and gave me the old heave ho. The sack if you aren't sure.
But I wasn't too bothered because I knew that Bennett was a waste of space. He talked a good gig, but couldn't walk it, if that makes sense.
Iron Maiden had two gigs to do before they went off to do their biggest tour yet, supporting Kiss on the European leg of their Unmasked World tour, and I was determined to be a part of it.
The first of the two aforementioned gigs was at Cromer, Norfolk. This was to be the warm up before Maiden played at Reading Festival two nights later.
As I was no longer part of the crew, everybody else set off early with the band's equipment and I was left at home, wondering what to do.
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I then got a phone call from Vic asking if I could meet him, so that's what I did. Vic pulled up in the band's Limo and said "Get in, we're going to Cromer." I didn't argue, I just got in the passenger seat and off we went.
The journey up to Cromer from Hackney was about three hours long, but me and Vic were chatting away and didn't really notice the time flying past.
We arrived at the venue early afternoon and I went in to see what was going on. It was obvious that things were not as they should be. The drum kit was only half built and Pete Bennett was nowhere to be seen so, to me, in my little head I knew that that had to be sorted out and I finished setting up the drum kit the way Clive didn't like, apparently.
But Dave Lights had also gone missing. It later turned out that Lightsy had been out in the sun so long he'd got sunstroke. So, during the show, I ended up doing the lights for the band as well. It was a strange experience having never done the lights before, but Derek and Roger (Meteorlites) were on hand to make sure nothing went wrong.
All I had to do was push up a few faders and make sure we didn't have too many lights on at the same time or the power would blow. Now I'm no expert, but I didn't have any complaints about the job I did, and after all this time it was strange to watch the band do an entire set from front of house.
Not that I remember much about it due to the manic button pushing and faders being swept up and down. It was probably the fastest gig I had ever done with the band. But it also showed I had another string to my bow. I could do something more than drums.
Needless to say I got my job back and Bennett got fired. Even now I don't know why he disappeared. I met him a few years later and he was into building miniature drum kits, but I really couldn't have cared less. That arsehole tried to steal my job.
So, now fully employed by Maiden again, the next stop was Reading Festival, and yet another long day unfolded.
I had been to Reading a couple of times before as a punter, fan, music enthusiast, whatever, and back then during the early to mid-seventies there was only one stage but, due to popularity, towards the end of the seventies they started to use two, side by side. They called the stages A and B to save any confusion. The headline band would be on Stage A, and the second band on stage B etc.
We arrived on site in our new Edwin Shirley truck and finally made our way to where we had to unload the band's equipment on stage B. Looking out over the crowd from stage B you could see a gangway running down the centre of the fans for access to the front of house sound tower. I remember Rod being very excited by this, and I'll come to that in a minute.
Once we had got the band's gear ready there was a little bit of time over for some R n R. No, not rock and roll, but some rest and relaxation.
Nope, wrong again. Rod had got somebody to make some stupid Eddie masks out of rubber and wanted me and Dave Lights to wear them for some promotional photos. I had no problem with that. I could see that there was an opportunity here to maximise the publicity, but what I didn't expect was what Rod had seen.
That gangway I mentioned two paragraphs ago. Yep, that's the one. Well, Lightsy and me had to walk all the way out to the mixing desk and back with these stupid fucking masks on. I could hear Lights behind me saying, "go quicker" and I'm saying, "I'd love to, but I can't see where I'm bloody going."
We finally made it to the safety of back stage and I swore then that I would never do anything like that again. It took me so far out of my comfort zone that I actually wondered if this was really what I wanted to do. I was a drum roadie for fuck's sake, but Rod had a way of manipulating people.
There were several incidents between me and Rod and I don't know why he kept picking on me to do stuff I wasn't interested in. As far as he was concerned, I worked for the band and I should do what he wanted. But he never asked the guitar techs to do anything. He wouldn't dare. He'd have a guitar shoved up his arse. So why always pick on me?
Did I stand out as a weak link? That didn't make any sense. I was there from the start. I'd helped this band become Iron Maiden and I would have done almost anything to push them up the ladder. I did say almost. Maybe almost wasn't enough.
It didn't matter how many times I told him to fuck off and let me get on with my job, he was always asking me to do something that I wasn't happy with. As I said before, he was not Peter Grant, and I was damn sure he was going to know it.
I never got the chance though. I think it was Steve that told Rod to leave me alone. I didn't go to Steve with a problem but I think a couple of the crew picked up on what was going on and maybe mentioned it to Steve.
Don't get me wrong, Rod had a job to do and I respected that, but there is a way of treating people that Rod doesn't get. He sees everybody as beneath him and I totally understood what he was trying to do. But why the constant put downs? I'll never know. If it was good enough for the band, it should have been good enough for him.
Later that evening the band played a blinding set and, from where I stood, looking out over the masses of fans all waving their hands in the air, I knew that we were going to be a hard act to follow.
As for how UFO faired that evening I'll never know. As soon as we were off stage and ready to move, we had to go back to London and start getting packed up for the trek to Italy and meet up with the Kiss tour.
But that image of all those fans waving at us at Reading will stay with me forever. I had never seen anything like it. My recent venture to Donington Download Festival gave me goose bumps but nothing compares to seeing it from the stage.
Click here for the Loopyworld index for the rest of this amazing story, including Steve's tribute to Clive Burr...