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  LOOPY'S WORLD: PART FIFTEEN B - JAPAN 1981

Steve 'Loopy' Newhouse

steve newhouse



loopyworld

A few weeks later (although it could have been longer) we headed off to Japan. I had already noticed the new people we were picking up along the way in Europe, but it meant nothing to me then.

Colin Claydon had replaced Stuart and one of the Trust crew was on board but I had no idea why. Having had a brief get together with my ex and thinking things were ok, I found out the night before we flew to Japan that she'd be seeing someone else. I was devastated and when I told Dave lights, the two of us sat on the underground to Heathrow crying our eyes out.

The flight out to Japan was almost like a bus trip. We flew from Heathrow to Stuttgart, which was a short stop over so we didn't leave the plane. Then Stuttgart to Karachi where we had a fuel stop. This was going to take a couple of hours so a few of us got off the plane to check out the local airport.

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We couldn't go very far because our boarding passes wouldn't allow it. This is where most of us realised we had overdressed.

The heat was unbelievable. I got off the plane in tracksuit bottoms, sweat shirt and tour jacket. I got back on the plane, with all those items over my arm. Luckily, back then, I always wore shorts but I won't forget the heat. Oh yeah, local time that day was 4.00am.

Next stop was Bangkok where we also had to refuel. I really don't remember much about the place. As we weren't allowed out of the airport we headed to the nearest bar as usual. Well, we are British (mostly) after all.

That was when I saw what I can only describe as something you only see in a film. That hazy, humid, smoky effect you would sometimes see in a 1950s movie. Almost like walking into a bar that has a small cloud in it. That was exactly what I witnessed. It's hard to explain, but I hope you understand.

Next stop Tokyo, Narita Airport. And I wasn't expecting this. None of us were. Thousands of fans were waiting for us. I have to admit they were mostly girls, but a third were boys/guys (you choose).

The fans swamped the airport and it all got a little scary for a while. We had to have a police escort from baggage claim to the main exit where we had a fleet of transit type mini buses waiting to take us to our hotel.

That didn't stop the fans though. They chased us everywhere.

The journey from Narita Airport to downtown Tokyo took a couple of hours and what I remember most about the journey, although we were on a motorway, was a high wall or fence in between the south bound and north bound traffic, so all you could see was what was going on in front of you.

After spending two hours of looking at the number plate in front of us we finally burst into downtown Tokyo and, shortly after, arrived at our hotel, The Keio Plaza. For the next ten days this was going to be our base, but not home. I shall explain, eventually.

Having arrived at our hotel we were told to stay inside the vehicle until it was safe due to the amount of fans outside the entrance. This took another fifteen minutes then, finally, one by one we were led to the hotel entrance. Once inside the lobby things calmed down a bit.

The hotel itself was a massive piece of twin tower construction with its swimming pool somewhere around the 30th floor. Most of us were given rooms in one of the towers but we were much higher than the swimming pool. The view from the hotel window was staggering.

As we were handed our keys the noise outside was deafening and it was really odd to hear people calling my name while making that short journey from the van to the hotel reception.

I spoke to Lightsy about it later in my room and he heard the fans saying "Roopy" as much as I heard them say "Dave Rights". We had arrived and in a bigger way than any of us had expected.

An hour later most of us congregated in the basement hotel bar where we met the promoter, Udo.

This guy was fantastic. If you wanted anything he would find it. He told us all to order some food but suggested we try a steak sandwich. Of course it didn't take much working out. Having spent the last 26 hours on a plane a steak sandwich was perfect. I had three and, as Udo was footing the bill and at $7 a sandwich I was getting my money's worth.

While we ate Udo went through the itinerary with us and introduced us to a lot of his main people. It was a great meeting and we knew where we stood. Not much time for sightseeing, but we were there on business.

He also told us the best places to go for a drink, clubbing, and also told us about a friend of his that ran a bar called the Lexington Queen in the downtown area of Tokyo called Rippongi.

Doing as we were told, we went off and found the bar only to be confronted by the owner, an Englishman, who had been expecting us. We could tell by the pints set up along the front of the bar and the Tequila slammers just behind. Again, all this was organised and paid for by Udo.

Not far from the Lexington Queen was a disco building. That's the only description I can think of. You get in a lift, you press which floor you want and when it arrives at your chosen floor, you walked into a disco. But they were all differently themed. One floor would be rock; another would be disco, etc.

We only had a small amount of rehearsal time in Tokyo so were tucked away in a room on the seventh floor of a building in the city centre.

Being curious of our surroundings, I ventured up to the roof and was blown away by what I found. I had no idea that baseball was such a big thing in Japan, or even golf, but wherever I looked, there were practise nets. I guess they had to practise somewhere, I just didn't expect it a couple of hundred feet up. Just goes to show how little we know about other cultures I guess.

The whole Japanese tour set up was a bit weird but we learned a lot from our ten day stay.

Firstly, each show started at about 4.30pm and was usually finished by 6.00pm. The load-in time was always from about 8.00am but we found at the first gig, in Tokyo itself, that there were a lot of people with note pads following you about.

The Japanese crew were quite happy to watch you set up but they were constantly making notes. And these notes were a kind of blueprint for the coming shows. And the attention to detail was quite astonishing. I remember the lights being focused and there was a guy making notes of where each beam of light hit the stage.

I cleaned my cymbals and had a guy take note of everything I did.

To cut a long story short, every gig we did in Japan was set up before we got there. Even the drum kit was set up the way I wanted it, but maybe not Clive.

As I said, we were only there for ten days but the experience will last forever.

Most mornings we were on a Bullet train at 5.00am travelling from one city to the next. Being used to home comforts I was expecting a cup of tea and a bacon sarnie at that time in the morning. No chance, or more appropriately, not a sausage.

The only thing available was sushi, which you could purchase from a guy on the platform costing about £5 for eight tiny bits of rice rolled up with raw fish. As it happens, I'm allergic to seafood so I went without.

There was also no trolley dolly on this service so, by the time we reached our destination, I was seriously hungry.

The journey out of Tokyo to Nagoya will be remembered by me mostly for the time it took to leave Tokyo itself. This city is so large; it took an hour from a three hour journey to finally leave.

Then we passed Mount Fuji, a spectacular sight, but then travelling at 200mph you still don't get a decent shot.

After shows in Nagoya and Osaka where we had our first real encounter with Adrian's alter ego (Melvin), it was time to head back to Tokyo where we did two last shows at the Sun Plaza, then it was Sayonara, Japan.

Udo, being the gent he was, made sure that everyone was given a parting gift. And, with our gifts loaded, it was time to say goodbye. By the time we reached the airport the fans had been camping out. There were thousands there to wave us off. I still think back on those days with fond admiration.

I loved the way we were treated like kings, yet we hadn't really done anything to merit that. With only two albums under the band's belt this was a sign that things would be getting better.

And yes, Paul really did introduce the song as 'Lunning Flee'.

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Keith Wilfort is a big name in the early history of Iron Maiden. Keith was one of the band's first ever true fans, 'inventor' of the first ever Iron Maiden t-shirt and became the band's first ever fan club secretary.

Keith is not in good shape at the moment and is in hospital in California where he now lives and requires open heart surgery to replace his aortic valve.

He's had to have his teeth removed in preparation for the surgery and to save him from further infection. The surgery will almost certainly go ahead today (Friday 21st February).

The after care and medication alone will cost thousands of dollars and donations from the Metal community are coming in thick and fast to the GoFundMe page that Keith's family have set up. You can visit the page and donate by clicking here.

Two people have made anonymous donations of $1000 each and although Keith is in high spirits, he wants his teeth back so he can swear at everyone properly.

The band have been informed, and Metallica have also been alerted, due to the connection between the bands over the years.

So far the donations have hit $3,500, which is staggering in three days.

Keith and his family are updating his Facebook page with all developments and you can follow them by clicking here.


Click here for the Loopyworld index, including Steve's tribute to Clive Burr...




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