1. THE FINE ART OF BEING IN THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME
The original columns, published between 2012 and 2016.
Who am I? Ok, where do I start? At the beginning I guess, so let me introduce myself.
Born Steve Newhouse on May 1st 1957, in the London Borough of Hackney, I had the nickname of Loopy given to me some twenty years later by the same guy who introduced Paul Di’Anno to Steve Harris in a pub in Leytonstone. We’ll come to that guy in a while.
The rest, as they say, is history ( his story???) or at least it’s somebody’s story.
But it’s not my story, which goes something like this.
I had known Paul Di’Anno for many years, and even now can remember his real surname – Taylor. We had been best friends for so long we lived in each other’s pockets and knew each other inside out.
Tats, as I affectionately called him, and I would spend every Sunday afternoon getting the 66 bus from Leytonstone Station to Marks Gate, near Romford, so we could spend a few hours rehearsing with a band, in a concrete bunker smack in the middle of a potato field. I kid you not.
This was Bonzers Farm, just off Whalebone Lane. The drummer lived on the farm and had to run a mains extension out of his bedroom window, all the way to the bunker, some 200 yards, so that we had enough power to rehearse.
The band were called Rock Candy, who mostly played their own material, with a few covers thrown in to make up a fourty minute set.
Rock Candy were made up of Tats on vocals, Nigel Foster on guitar, Martin Waites on bass and vocals, and Rob Cunningham on drums.
Originally a three piece, Martin was told that his vocals weren’t strong enough, so they decided to search for a singer and found Paul. Even to this day I don’t know how that happened. Some best friend I turned out to be.
The rehearsals went on for many months with me and Paul going to and fro between Leytonstone and Romford when we finally got word that the band had been booked to do a gig at the Three Rabbits in Manor Park for a Sunday evening.
Rock Candy played their well rehearsed set and were doing okay until Nigel broke a string. During the delay, a guy on crutches came up and asked Paul if the band could play Bobby Goldsboro’s ‘Seasons In The Sun’?
Paul’s reply was instant: “Fuck off ya cripple.” Not very PC, I’ll admit, but that was then and this is now.
The band finished with an encore of ‘Pretty Vacant’, the Sex Pistols classic, and overall went down really well. Even the guy with the crutches was calling for more.
That turned out to be the only gig Rock Candy ever performed. A few weeks later we turned up at the bunker to find the doors off their hinges and all the band’s equipment gone.
That pretty much spelled the end of Rock Candy. They tried to carry on, borrowing equipment to rehearse and they even got a manager, who also tried to get the band new equipment, more gigs etc. But I think everyone knew that the end was drawing closer.
It was around this time that a friend of the band, Trevor Searle (he who named me Loopy), had heard a rumour that Iron Maiden were looking for a new singer and he casually mentioned it to Paul. We both knew that Maiden were a big noise on the local pub circuit but neither of us knew what we could do about approaching them.
Then, by sheer fluke, Paul and I went to see a band at the Red Lion Pub in Leytonstone. We met up with Trevor who said that Iron Maiden’s bass player had just turned up and he was going to have a chat with him. Trev was only gone a few minutes when he came back and dragged Paul off to meet Steve Harris.
So, I’m left standing there like a lonely plum in an empty fruit basket for ten minutes, when Paul came wandering back, with a huge smile on his face and said: “I’ve got an audition for this week.”
The original columns, published between 2012 and 2016, led to the hugely popular ‘Loopyworld – The Iron Maiden Years’ book, which you can buy from eBay.