LOOPY’S WORLD: PART FOURTEEN – BYE BYE DENNIS, HELLO ADRIAN
The original columns, published between 2012 and 2016.
Home! Home again, I like to be here when I can.
I felt like shit. My girlfriend had left me and I had nothing to do. Even the idea of a jigsaw puzzle wasn’t fun.
Paul came over and we would go to the Green Man for a few beers, but even that had changed. Our old hunting ground was now an Irish theme pub and we’d only been gone for a few months. What the fuck?
It’s a strange feeling coming off a big tour. You spend weeks away from home and your loved ones wishing you were at home, then when you finally get home, all you want to do is be on the road again.
I felt like this every time, and I know it wasn’t just me. Paul and I would talk about this a lot.
But of course, we didn’t have to sit around for too long.
The band had to go into a studio to record ‘Women In Uniform’, so we did that at Battery Studios in Willesden with Tony Platt at the controls.
Then there was a call for us to be at the Rainbow Theatre to do the video for the afore-mentioned song.
We all arrived at the right time and I got to set the kit up as I usually did, with Clive saying this was wrong or that was wrong. Having spent a few months in Europe ignoring him I felt we had an adequate working relationship.
At one point on tour he pissed me off so much that when he asked me if I had cleaned the kit, I lied and said “of course, don’t you trust me?”
He didn’t answer but he couldn’t deny the smell of furniture polish. I’d sprayed a whole can of it on his seat. Fuck him.
There were a lot of changes about to happen and I didn’t see any of them coming.
Clive had sent me on a mission to get an order for his sticks sorted out, which only took a couple of hours but, by the time I got back, I could see that things had taken a turn for the worse.
In my absence Michael Kenney had been asked to do a video shoot with two actresses, which Rod had pencilled me in for. The idea was for Eddie, in a hospital bed, to sit up quickly toward the camera. Michael was in an Eddie mask with the cameraman sitting on his legs, but he sat up so quickly that he actually head butted the camera and split the skin at the top of his nose. Poor bloke still has the scar to prove it.
But this goes back to Rod being manipulative. He tried so hard to get me, and every other member of the crew, to do stuff that we all felt took us out of our comfort zone.
Another story there I think.
After the shoot was finished a lot of things happened far too quickly.
Pete quit, which I was totally gutted about. He’d been with me for almost the whole thing and I started to feel even more uncertain about my own future. This business can be very fickle at the best of times, but you learn to deal with it.
Then shortly after the video shoot we found out that Dennis had gone and Adrian Smith was the new guitarist.
Again I was gutted. Den had been an inspiration to us all. He was a real friend. He looked after us, especially the crew.
He told me afterwards that he knew something was wrong. He realised during the video shoot for ‘Women In Uniform’ none of the cameras were on him. I think he may be wrong, having watched the video recently, but it’s obviously how he perceives his departure.
Although in Den’s defence, some of the photos taken at the video shoot to be used for publicity in the near future always had something over Den’s face, Steve’s bass machine head, Paul’s mic. Have a look when you get the chance and you’ll see what I mean.
Den’s musical differences will always be a stumbling block, more with Rod than anyone else. We didn’t care what anyone listened to, in fact it was refreshing to get away from the continuous crash bang wallop of Heavy Metal, and let’s face it, most of the crew had diverse tastes in music. Maybe that’s why Den preferred to travel with the crew.
So, with Pete and Den gone it was going to be different, of course.
Adrian had been given a crash course of the band’s songs and within a few weeks we took him on the road.
H was a very accomplished guitarist and slotted into the vacant position easily. He was also a good songwriter, which came into its own later.
The guy who got Pete’s job was a Welshman called Stuart Hopkins. Although a lovely bloke, he was a mess. I had to share hotel rooms with him and from the second we checked in to the moment we left, our room was always a mess. And I don’t just mean clothes being strewn all over the place. There were guitar parts and amplifier bits all over the beds, floors, in the bathroom, in the wardrobe, you name it, there was his mess everywhere.
But Stuart knew where every bit was. It was like he filed them in order of what had to be dealt with next.
On tour it was the same. He turned our crew bus into his personal mobile workshop until somebody complained and, slowly but surely, Stuart started to tidy himself and his mess up.
Stuart only lasted for a UK and European tour and finally got fired just before we flew to Japan.
The last time I saw him was just after I got back from Japan. He turned up on my doorstep with a young American guy that I vaguely recognised. I can’t remember what Stuart wanted but he told me he was working in a studio in London with Ozzy Osbourne and the young American guy he introduced me to was Randy Rhoads.
As I said, he was vaguely familiar. The real sad thing about this story is the whole conversation took place on my doorstep.
Randy had brought his dog with him and my family’s dog had to be shut away in the living room, but my dog barked the whole time that Stuart and Randy where there.
Sadly, we all know what happened to poor Randy. But, as for Stuart, well, as I said earlier, that was the last time I saw him.
Adrian’s first big Iron Maiden UK tour was with a French support act called Trust, with one Nicko McBrain on drums.
Now, we all remembered Nick from the McKitty thing and it was amazing how we all kept bumping into each other.
While I had a few days off I was going through a few old albums that I had collected and came across a Pat Travers album called ‘Makin’ Magic’, and there he was again, Nicko McBrain on drums. I’d been listening to this guy for about four years and didn’t even know it.
We chatted about the early days of McKitty and Travers a few years later and Nicko told me that when he joined Maiden, it was almost that he had been pointed in that direction. Nick is a great believer in God and felt it was his calling. I call it fate, or Harris, for want of another word. As I said many chapters ago, what Harry wants, Harry gets.
Getting back to the UK tour with Trust. Although they were French, there was never much of a language barrier, mainly because half of their crew were English, but some of the French crew spoke English too. One in particular, a guy called Michael, spoke fluent English and became part of the crew we took to Japan. Again instigated by Harry.
We had some wild nights out with the Trust guys, especially in the West Country, when Nicko introduced them all to Scrumpy, a traditional local cider. Things went very quiet for a few days while they regained their faculties.
In the meantime, Adrian was bedding in nicely but we learned that when he got drunk he took on a different persona, namely Melvin. And Melvin was one of the funniest people I have ever come across. He didn’t get up and do anything, but he would say the funniest things.
From what I understand, Adrian is no longer like that. Maybe the love of a good woman changed him, who knows? But it was fun while it lasted.
Then it was studio time again. This time to record the bands second album, ‘Killers’. My memory of this time is pretty vague. The album was recorded at Battery studio’s in Willesden, North London, with Martin Birch in charge of the production. At least we had a decent producer this time.
My only real memory of the recording process goes like this. During one of the recordings, and I can’t remember which song it was, Clive’s snare drum developed a rattle. Every other song was OK, we’d had no problem at all but this song was spooked, if you like.
The only answer was for me to lie on the floor in between the cymbal and mike stands and hold the snare in place, remembering to keep my face away from Clive’s left leg, which was prone to take off and have a life of its own, and release the snare at the right time.
Thankfully, it only took two takes to get it right. I had visions of still being there, while the rest of the band were in Japan.
Other than that, the rest of the album was laid down almost as quickly as the first one.
While we were there Martin had a delivery of the twelve inch version of Black Sabbath’s ‘Heaven And Hell, which he had produced. It didn’t take long for us to fleece him of every copy. If I’m honest, I don’t think he cared that much. He seemed really happy working on his new project, Iron Maiden.
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.