Clive Burr: Drummer with Iron Maiden

 

Over the past 33 years Iron Maiden have flown the flag for British heavy metal around the world, playing over 2,000 concerts and making such a strong connection with their fanbase that they have sold more than 85 million albums despite receiving little daytime radio airplay.

Clive Burr was the powerhouse drummer on the group's first three albums – their 1980 eponymous debut, 1981's follow-up Killers and their first No 1, 1982's The Number Of The Beast.

His steady drumming and distinctive fills propelled both "Run To The Hills", the group's breakthrough hit and early signature song, and the title track of their third album into the Top 20, and enabled them to steam ahead of their New Wave Of British Heavy Metal contemporaries. However, in 1982, when Burr's father died while Maiden were touring the US, the drummer flew back to the UK to help his family cope with the bereavement. His bandmates continued with Nicko McBrain, who had previously drummed with Streetwalkers and the French band Trust, in his stead.

"I knew Nicko," Burr told Classic Rock two years ago. "He loved the band, he loved being part of it all. And the rest of the band liked him." When Burr returned to the US a fortnight later, he "could tell something wasn't right," and he was ousted. "I was too upset to feel angry about it. I guess they had their reasons," he said, refuting the claim that he was more of a party animal than the others. "There was a grieving period – I grieved for my dad and I grieved for my band – and then I brushed myself down and got on with it."

Born in 1957, he grew on the Manor Park estate in the East End of London. By the early 1970s he was into the heavy rock of Deep Purple and idolised their drummer, Ian Paice. So impressed were his parents by his playing on the makeshift kit he'd assembled that they bought him a proper set of drums. He joined a group called Maya, and was a member of Samson, early exponents of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal genre, adding a dash of punk urgency to their "Telephone" and "Mr Rock'n'Roll" singles in 1978.

Samson occasionally played the Bridge House, the Canning Town pub run by the former boxer Terry Murphy, and a favourite haunt of fellow East Enders Iron Maiden. Their bassist, leader and primary songwriter Steve Harris had founded the group in 1976 and been ringing the changes ever since to try to find the line-up best suited to perform his compositions, which were steeped in imagery drawn from horror films, history and mythology.

In December 1979, following the word of mouth around The Soundhouse Tapes, their self-released EP, Maiden signed to EMI but drummer Doug Sampson was let go after recording one track. Harris called in Burr, then working as a runner in the City of London. He did a sterling job on "Running Free", Maiden's first single for the major, as well as their Top 40 debut, and joined vocalist Paul Di'Anno and guitarists Dave Murray and Dennis Stratton to record the epic "Phantom Of The Opera" and the rest of the group's debut, which would prove hugely influential on US groups like Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer.

When I met Maiden in Avignon in autumn 1980, they and their ghoulish mascot Eddie were going down a storm as the opening act for KISS. Hanging out with them and their formidable manager Rod Smallwood afterwards, once the conversation moved away from his beloved West Ham, I could tell that Harris called the shots. Indeed, within a few weeks, guitarist Stratton was replaced by Adrian Smith, while Di'Anno left after Killers.

The group's new frontman, Bruce Dickinson, who had been in Samson after Burr, delivered a trademark operatic performance on "Gangland", co-written by Burr and Smith for The Number Of The Beast. The album referenced The Village Of The Damned sci-fi film and The Prisoner TV series; its title track, introduced by the British actor Barry Clayton, who proved cheaper than Vincent Price, attracted the wrath of religious groups in the US yet went on to sell 14 million copies and establish Maiden.

"My abiding memory of recording The Number Of The Beast album is Steve telling me to slow down," recalled Burr, who also drummed on the band's stand-alone singles "Sanctuary", "Women In Uniform" and "Twilight Zone", as well as Maiden Japan, their 1981 live EP.

Following his exit from Maiden, Burr recorded two albums with Trust, briefly reunited with Di'Anno in the ghastly Gogmagog and formed a group called Escape. In the mid-1990s he was diagnosed with a particularly virulent strain of multiple sclerosis. His Maiden bandmates rallied round and organised benefit concerts to pay for his treatment and help other MS sufferers.

"Clive was a very old friend of all us," Harris said in a statement. "He was a wonderful person and an amazing drummer who made a valuable contribution to Maiden in the early days."

Pierre Perrone

Clive Burr, drummer and songwriter; born London 8 March 1957; partner to Mimi; died London 12 March 2013.

Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Food Technology Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week