Noel Wyatt – As tours go you really couldn’t ask for a better one to start your career off on than an Iron Maiden tour. Even though these guys were huge they acted like they were your next door neighbour’s son who you went to school with and threw rocks at derelict house windows.
Noel Wyatt S.O.C. / Aka ‘Ratty’
Chapter Four: The Neighbour Of The Beast
First Published: 22 March 2012
They were more like a bunch of mates who happened to play a bit of music than the rock demi gods I was to meet later in my career and their ease of manner and friendly ways were reflected in their crew.
The Maiden crew were then and probably still are the best in the business. They stuck with the band for years and some (I’m sure) are still with them. People like Pyro Pete who ran the effects for the Eddie monster, Warren who used to operate Eddie, Michael Kenny, Gadzy the drum tech and Dickie Bell the tour manager. Even their manager Rod Smallwood was a pretty friendly kind of person in his own sweet way.
RUN TO THE HILLS
This was my very first laminate as a bona fide member of a touring crew and it was incredibly exciting. I was taken to the production office and introduced to Dickie Bell as the drum tech for the support band. I was terrified of Dickie as he seemed to be upset at everyone, no matter who they were. Over the years I would learn that this was just his way of keeping people at a distance.
The first thing he said to me was, “I suppose you want a fucking laminate then? Well, come on!”
He begrudgingly led me down to the stage where Warren was testing out the latest metamorphosis of Eddie and Pyro was testing out his gags for the fire marshal. I stood in front of the stage and Warren held Eddie’s hand over my head as if he was picking me up off
the ground by my hair. I didn’t know it at the time but Pyro had rigged a small flash pop behind me.
The camera flashed, the bang went off and I leaped into the air like a scalded cat. Everyone fell about laughing and this was my introduction to the Maiden crew.
I WAS ALL ACCESS
About an hour later I went to production and picked up my pass. I could not stop smiling as I walked around the gig. I was official, I could go anywhere. I can’t remember what happened to that pass but I hope someone somewhere still has it.
CHARLOTTE THE HARLOT
For those of you who have never experienced the magic that is the touring laminate let me tell you, there is no feeling like it. Doors are suddenly opened for you, security guards push people out of the way so that you can get in, girls drop their knickers as if the elastic has snapped.
AT LEAST, THAT’S THE WAY IT WAS BACK THEN
It was 1986 and AIDS, even though it was known about, was still considered to be mostly a gay disease by the world of touring bands. I got laid almost every gig of that tour and never though about diseases for a second. Remember, I was still relatively green and acted as if I was a kid in a candy shop.
Support bands and their crew have a massive advantage over the headliner guys in the sense that we are usually packed and ready to go by the time the headliner goes on so much of our time is spent watching the show and cruising for chicks and trust me, they were not hard to find.
I stumbled through that first gig, packed the gear away and went straight out into the audience to watch the show.
Within ten minutes of wandering the gig a young girl approached me excitedly. “Are you with the band?, she said. I was still pretty shy but managed to splutter something about being with the support band. She said there was a party after the show and asked me if
I wanted to go.
DID I WANT TO GO? OH YES!
She handed me a piece of paper with an address on it and as soon as the show was over I was on my way. Everyone else seemed to be heading out to various after show parties so it looked like I would be on my own. We were on a day off after the show so I didn’t have to worry about rushing back to the van.
I found Paul (our other Tech) and he said the van was staying at the venue that night and we would be leaving around midday so, no problems. I arranged to meet the girl (never knew her name) at the front of the building and we piled into someone’s car and headed out to the party. She was all over me in the back of the car and I was to experience this same phenomena many times during my touring career. I like to call it ‘LAMINITIS’.
By the time we got where we were going I was ready for bed rather than booze. As we entered the house her friends gathered round as if I was a piece of green kryptonite. I was paraded around the room and introduced to everyone. Questions were being fired at me from all directions. “What’s Bruce like?”, “What kind of drumsticks does NicKo use?”, “Which amps does Steve like?”
HELL, PEOPLE WERE EVEN ASKING FOR MY AUTOGRAPH!
It was the most bizarre situation I have ever been in. Eventually we got through the room and headed for her bedroom. As I walked in she closed the door behind me, I turned around and she was already taking her clothes off.
The next morning I woke up to a different girl standing over me with a cup of tea. “Where’s wotsit?”, I said (still didn’t know her name). “She had to go to work but I’m here…”
She climbed into bed and another session of hide the sausage ensued.
I’m not making this up – it actually happened just like that. I lit a cigarette and asked the time? She looked at her watch. “It’s 11.30, why…”
“FUCK! I’M GONNA BE LATE!”