52 guitarists, week 3—Dave Murray

It’s time to exit the timeline approach I’ve been running with these past two weeks and enter the realm of ‘whatever the heck I feel like doing’. It’s a realm that really needs a better name, but it essentially means I can write about any guitarists I feel like writing about. Which is OK because this is my website, my rules.

So if you could write about any influential guitarist in week three, who would you write about? Me, I’d look to a band with three guitarists and then choose your favourite guitarist from that band. For me that’s easy. Dave Murray from Iron Maiden.

I discovered Iron Maiden relatively early in my heavy metal discovery period. In the Iron Maiden discography that would be with the Powerslave album—still one of my favourite Maiden albums. Just as I did with Van Halen, I went looking into the back catalogue and was pleasantly surprised. Piece of Mind and The Number of the Beast. Those albums are just epic.

They were also my first real introduction to the power of a dual attack guitar band. The one constant that was always there for me as I watched Iron Maiden evolve was Dave Murray. His riffs were always super-tight. And as much as I’ve never aspired to be a lead guitarist, his left hand technique has always impressed me. Few people can master the hammer-on and pull-off life he can.

But he’s not all show. He’s not a solo artist. He’s an integral part of an incredibly well oiled machine. Without Dave Murray, Iron Maiden wouldn’t produce tracks like The Number of the Beast.

I love the approach of this band. Awesome riff, Dave Murray solo, riff, other solo. I say other solo because it doesn’t matter if it’s Adrian Smith or Janick Gers to me. Dave Murray is the constant. To me, he is Iron Maiden’s guitar sound. Do I like and respect Adrian Smith and Janick Gers? Absolutely. But Dave Murray is king.

When I was a teenager and my Aunty—no, I don’t say Aunt—offered to make me a custom t-shirt of my own choosing—she had her own screen printing business—the choice was easy. I found a cartoon style drawing of Dave Murray and that was it. I wish I still had that tshirt. Nobody else would have one.

Apart from the true dual guitar approach that Dave Murray and his colleagues introduced me to, there was one other vital guitar lesson Dave Murray taught me as a young and aspiring guitar lover. That was the value of a live performance. If you’ve never seen Live Before Death, you’ve missed out. Go watch it now. Or when you’re finished here maybe. Yes. Wait until you’re finished here.

If it helps, here is an awesome version of Powerslave from Iron Maiden’s earlier days. Dave Murray shines.

That band sure knows how to work a massive audience.

Another thing Dave Murray did for me was make me want a black Stratocaster. I’m yet to convert mine into a dual humbucker version, but when I do, it will be because of Dave Murray. The tones he’s managed to get from his Stratocaster blow my mind.

Oh, I mentioned how Dave is an absolute team player. That remains true. But there are moments when he showcases his own ability to fly solo. Those moments are equally impressive. Still not really a showboat, but impressive all the same. Dave Murray will always be an unsung hero for me. I love his work.

This is not a top guitarists list and there is no significance in the order the guitarists are placed in the list. This is simply a collection of guitarists that have been influential to me.

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