Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Stephen Percy "Steve" Harris (born 12 March 1956) is an English musician, known as the bassist, band leader, primary songwriter and only constant member of the band Iron Maiden (although Dave Murray has played with the group since 1976). In addition, he plays keyboards, and sings backing vocals. He founded the band as a teenager in 1975. He and Dave Murray  are the only members of the band to have appeared on all of the band's albums, and as Murray left the band for a few months prior to the first album to join Urchin, Harris is the only member to have remained in the band throughout its duration. He used to work as an architectural draftsman in the East End of London but gave up his job upon forming Iron Maiden. During the mid 1970s he was a youth team footballer for West Ham United. He still is a talented amateur football player and often has the crest of West Ham on his bass, and he has stated his first ambition in life before music was to become a professional footballer.

Originally Harris wanted to play drums or be a professional football player; however, he did not have much space for a drum kit in his house, so he started to play bass and write songs[citation needed]. Harris is a self-taught bass player. His first bass was a copy of a Fender Precision Bass that cost him £40 when he was 17 years old. He went on to use a signature Lado "Unicorn" model and an early 1970s Fender Precision with RotoSound strings.

Harris' first band was named Influence then Gypsy's Kiss featuring Bob Verscoyle (lead vocals), Dave Smith (guitar) and drummer Paul Sears. Harris and Sears later joined Smiler, of which all the band members were several years older than he was. He ended up leaving, as the members of the band made it clear that they did not care for a bassist who leapt around the stage and wrote songs, also his songs were too complicated for the band members, with the result that they did not want to play them. Sears was later fired due in no small way to his "hellraising lifestyle." After Smiler, Harris went on to create Iron Maiden, getting the name from seeing an iron maiden, a type of torture instrument, in the movie The Man in the Iron Mask.

Harris is Maiden's principal composer and lyricist. His song writing typically showcases his trademark galloping bass patterns and features long songs with epic lyrics that feature many tempo changes. Harris frequently writes lyrics about mythology, history or topics inspired from books and films.

Harris is often considered among the best and most influential heavy metal bassists.[4] He is most known for his "galloping" playing style - usually an eighth note followed by two sixteenth notes at fast tempo (e.g., "The Trooper") or eighth note triplets – which he plays with two fingers. Before playing, Harris often chalks his fingers, to make these fast patterns easier to play, as shown on the bonus DVD for the A Matter of Life and Death album. Besides this he is very adventurous on the bass and plays intricate accompaniment in many of Maiden's songs. He also uses power chords, which are unusual on bass, on several songs. Harris has also stated that he never uses a pick and that he never warms up before a show.

He plays a specially-painted bass guitar which has been featured on every Iron Maiden album. The guitar has gone through four colour changes since construction. Originally white, then black, it was then changed to blue sparkle, then white with claret and blue pinstriping and the West Ham Utd crest. Harris is epitomised by his clunky sound on most albums. This is a result of a very low action and flatwound strings. However a close listen to the Maiden discography reveals many different sounds.