The first gig my Mum deemed me old enough to attend (on condition of the presence of an older chaperone) was Iron Maiden, way back in 1980. Although not knowing much about the band apart from a few listens of their recently released debut album, I had no idea what they would sound like live. The whole Iron Maiden concert experience blew me away and by 1981 I would start gigging myself, dreaming of reaching ‘the big time’. However, by the time they released their follow-up album, ‘Killers’ with the disappointing single ‘Women In Uniform’, I’d lost interest in the band. Enter replacement vocalist Bruce Dickinson and third album ‘The Number Of The Beast’, I was back on board, lock, stock and barrel. 1982 would be my year of Maiden worship, in particular, paying most attention to drummer, Clive Burr.
My infatuation with the band was the furthest I’d ever gone into hero worship and I set out on a campaign to buy every import single, poster, tour programme, badge, magazine interview, in fact, anything Iron Maiden related I had to have it. Even to the point of copycat jeans, T-shirts, leather jackets, hairstyle, boots – if it was possible to replicate the band look, I’d do it. This obsession (and it wasn’t to be the last occurrence of its kind) didn’t just stop at merchandise and clothes. It spilled way overboard and turned Clive Burr into my drumming icon, forsaking all others! Having studied every photograph I could lay my hands on, I embarked on a mission to set up my meagrely expanding drum kit in exactly the same configuration as his. Even down to the 8” tom positioned above the 10” tom! Naturally, the next logical step was for me to absorb myself into his style of playing and try to immitate his fiery drum licks within the music my band was playing – which wasn’t exactly in the territory of NWOBHM (Google that one folks if you don’t know the acronym). Whether they liked it or not, my band was getting a Clive Burr clone – or at least a poor-boy version – and nothing could waver my dedication away from the man and his drumming!
Unbeknown to me, all was not well within the Maiden camp as Clive’s indulgences on the road were apparently, starting to get in the way of his day job. If my memory serves me correctly, it was in January 1983 that ‘Sounds’ newspaper ran a small headline, “Burr Quits Maiden”. I remember reeling with shock and outrage at the news my hero had been ousted from the band and replaced by former Trust drummer, Nicko McBrain. With the loss of Burr, my interest in the band rapidly waned, along with my interest in Rock and Metal music. Burr never managed to make any significant musical comeback and by April 1983, I had turned my back completely on all things Metal.
Although an Iron Maiden album hasn’t graced my turntable since 1982, it would be unfair of me to ignore the influence Clive Burr had on Metal drummers of post-1980’s generations. His name is referenced so many times by today’s Rock/Metal players during interviews and it is a testament to his legacy that Iron Maiden rallied around to support him when he was cruelly struck down with MS. It saddened me to see photographs of this once energetic, explosive, inspiring drummer, now confined to a wheelchair; but such is the unfairness of life. For the immense listening pleasure he gave to me for a brief moment in time, there will always be a big “thank you” for Clive Burr.
On March 13, 2013, 5 days after his 56th birthday, Clive Burr passed away. Wherever you are Clive, at least you are no longer trapped inside a body that denied you the ability to shine behind the kit for so many years. Hope the next life deals a better set of cards.