Dave Murray

David Michael “Moonface” Murray (born 23 December 1956) is an English guitarist and songwriter best known as one of the original members of the heavy metal band Iron Maiden. He joined the band just two months after their inception in 1975.

DAVE MURRAY as known by Adrian Smith

 Dave and I grew up in the same area of London and I think we probably met at the local youth club, through a mutual friend called Dave McLaughlin. I knew that Dave McLaughlin was already playing guitar and I told him that I was a singer. I wasn’t, but I thought I’d get in with these guys! Then I think Dave Mac introduced me to Dave Murray and we started playing together; they played guitar and I sang.

When I first met him, he was a complete Hendrix nut and he loved Robin Trower and Santana, but I think he likes more blues based stuff these days. Back then, he had two guitars – he was very professional! His spare guitar from Woolworths wasn’t working, so I bought it off him for five quid and my dad fixed it, and that was my first guitar. It was a really nice guitar, as you can imagine!

Dave Mac drifted out of the band into other things, and Dave Murray and I carried on playing together for a few years until he decided to broaden his horizons and eventually he joined Iron Maiden. I carried on with the band we’d had, which became Urchin; he actually came back into the band for a while after he fell out with Iron Maiden’s singer, but then he went back to them. Before they did the first album, Iron Maiden asked me to join them, but my band was doing quite well, so I turned it down. Then they asked me again in 1980. I think Dave rang up and said, ‘Look, I think you really should do it’ and I did.

Dave is so easy-going and he’s a quiet guy. He has his moments, but generally, he goes with the flow. If you had six guys like Bruce or six guys like Steve in the band well, you need a combination of personalities. That’s what the chemistry of the band’s all about. In fact, I guess Dave and I are fairly similar. We’re both pretty laid-back and we’ve always got on very well.

Another good thing about Dave is that he’s always got a smile on his face. He has good energy, which is always a good quality to have in a band.

He’s a very consistent player, so it’s hard to pick his best moment on ‘Dance Of Death’, but the song ‘Rainmaker’ is one of my favourites and he wrote that with Steve, so I suppose I’d have to say that really.

Dave’s a very good guitarist, but he’s not the kind of guy who tries to outdo everybody. There’s enough scope in Iron Maiden’s music for all three guitarists to express themselves. The phrase ‘Let the music do the talking’ springs to mind when you talk about Dave. He’s always been able to express himself very well through the guitar.

He’s got his own style and sound, and that’s a rare thing. Everyone who plays guitar wants to have that and he always has, even when he’d just started playing. We could plug into the same amp and he’d still sound like him. If you hear Dave playing, you know it’s Iron Maiden straight away.

Career

Murray developed an interest in rock music when he was 15 after hearing Voodoo Child by Jimi Hendrix on the radio. From then on, everything changed. He got his first guitar and would practice along with records up to seven hours a day. He formed his first band, a trio called Stone Free which also included Adrian Smith (Guitar/Vocals) who later became a member of Iron Maiden.

From there, Murray played with a number of different bands before meeting Steve Harris and joined Iron Maiden for the first time in 1976. He briefly left the band following an argument with then vocalist Dennis Wilcock. Murray again teamed with Adrian Smith in a band called Urchin. During this short tenure with the band, Murray recorded one single titled “She’s A Roller”. Following the single, Murray left Urchin and returned to Iron Maiden, replacing Terry Wapram. Wilcock left the band shortly after Murray’s return.

Murray managed to briefly hold down a 9 to 5 job working for the then GLC (Greater London Council). He worked as a store keeper in the Housing Department. Based around in the Woodberry Down Estate, Frampton Park Estate and Geldeston road, Clapton area of North East London. His boss, Ronny Petit, expressed his concerns about Dave giving up a good steady job to tour Japan with Iron Maiden.

Murray’s solo guitar style throughout his career has been mainly based on the legato technique. Examples of this can be heard in Iron Maiden songs such as “Phantom of the Opera”, “Lightning Strikes Twice”, through to their 2006 studio release A Matter of Life and Death.

He has also written songs for the band, though he is less prolific than other band members. Murray usually forgoes lyric writing to another bandmate and concentrates on the musical elements of songwriting. He mainly co-writes songs with another member of Iron Maiden, “Charlotte the Harlot” being to date the only composition credited solely to him.

Murray and Steve Harrisare the only members of Iron Maiden to have appeared on every one of the band’s albums.

Equipment

Throughout his career, Murray has used and endorsed Marshall amplifiers almost exclusively, other than on the ‘Somewhere in Time’ and ‘Seventh Son…’ albums and their respective tours, when he instead used Gallien Krueger amps. He has used Fender Stratocaster guitars almost exclusively as well. His black 1957/63 (the body is from a ’63 and the neck is from a ’57) Stratocaster, previously owned by the late Free guitarist Paul Kossoff, was used from circa 1976-1990. It was used as a model by Fender to manufacture an Artist Signature model since 2009. The original now resides in a glass case at his home.

Murray has occasionally performed with various Dean, Gibson, Ibanez, ESP and Jackson electrics as well. As for acoustic guitar performances, Murray has used Gibson Hummingbird acoustic guitars live for the song ‘Journeyman’. He also used a Gibson Chet Atkins solid body acoustic on the ‘Fear of the Dark’ tour for the song ‘Wasting Love’.

Murray used his 1957/63 Strat (equipped with DiMarzio Super Distortion and PAF humbucking pickups) extensively, retiring it at the end of the ‘Seventh Son…’ tour in 1988, when he switched to Jackson guitars.

Guitars

Since returning to Fender in 1995, following several years from 1986 – 1993 when he endorsed ESP and Jackson, Murray has had several variations of the Stratocaster made for him by Fender. The first was the prototype for what was to become the Hot Rod Re-Issue series.

Currently his main guitar is 2 – tone sunburst Fender Californian Series Stratocaster with 3 Seymour Duncan Hot Rails pickups and a chrome Floyd Rose tremolo system. He also plays a Gibson Les Paul Traditional model on stage.

Dave Murray

Dave Murray live in San José 26 February 2008
Background information
Born 23 December 1956 (age 54)
Edmonton, London, England
Genres Heavy metal
Occupations Musician, songwriter
Instruments Guitar
Years active 1975–present
Labels EMI
Associated acts Iron Maiden, Urchin, Hear ‘n Aid, Stone Free, Electric Gas, Legend, The Stuff, Evil Ways
Notable instruments
Fender Stratocaster
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