Join us as we revisit the first time guitarist Adrian Smith “performed” onstage with New Wave of British Heavy Metal kings, Iron Maiden.
For the band’s first few years as new heavyweight recording artists, Maiden’s lineup could have been compared to as a revolving door, the band had already endured significant lineup changes even before they had signed to EMI. One of these changes took place barely six months after the release of the Iron Maiden self-titled debut album, when guitarist Adrian Smith stepped in to replace the exiting Dennis Stratton.
In retrospect, the admission of Adrian Smith into the Maiden fold felt like the inevitable result of a long and winding road that for years had him connected in one way or another to his future bandmates. It began when Smith and Iron Maiden’s other guitarist Dave Murray, first became friends. The teens spent most of their time swapping guitar licks and learning all they could from each other. Murray and Smith also formed their own band together, Stone Free. That relationship had ultimately led to another group named Evil Ways which, in turn, evolved into Urchin after Dave had quit to join Steve Harris’ band on the rise, Iron Maiden.
Urchin had very much been Smith’s baby project, Adrian sang, played guitar and wrote most of their tunes, including a set of singles entitled She’s a Roller and Black Leather Fantasy. Neither one of the two songs went very far, but Adrian was still optimistic enough about Urchin’s prospects that he politely declined an invitation to join Iron Maiden in 1979, just as they were signing their recording deal with EMI.
Listen to Urchin (Adrian Smith) “She’s a Roller”
But after another year of unproductive belief in Urchin, only for the group to finally fall apart, Smith wasn’t stupid enough to refuse a second invitation to join Maiden in November 1980, where he would now be replacing Dennis on rhythm guitar. But before Maiden got down to the business of recording their second album Killers, Adrian found himself whisked away to Munich for what would became his first public appearance with the band.
This was not a typical gig as one would expect but instead a studio setting for a German TV music show called Rock and Pop, the shows producers were strongly in favor of having up and coming bands sing on top of their pre-recorded instrumental backing tracks or sometimes were forced into full blown lip-syncing. Nevertheless, the surviving raw footage (embedded below) shows that Iron Maiden were game for a night of shenanigans.
Iron Maiden 1980 -- Running Free -- Pop And Rock TV Show
Clearly, Adrian was precisely the man that Harris and Maiden had been looking for, and he would soon make his presence felt as a brilliant guitarist and a key songwriting contributor.