February 27, 2011
During Iron Maiden’s mid-’80s Golden Age, ADRIAN SMITH (born 1957) was the professional bloke next door. He didn’t have the West Ham hooligan bombast of Steve Harris or the expressive theatricality of Bruce Dickinson. He was no menacing, big-nosed batterer like Nicko McBrain. And though he was often seen duelling in synchronized spandex lunges with his fellow guitarist, Dave Murray, there was none of that feline craftiness in his face. He was just the quiet ordinary one who got on with the job. As he once told Dickinson after a night on the booze: “The thing about me is, all I’m interested in is just having a bit of a sing and a play.” But what humility: his licks had an effortless brilliance and lazy originality that legions of teenagers have, ironically, tried so hard to replicate with hours of practice in their bedrooms. Up until this point I’ve written in the past tense, because Smith left Iron Maiden in 1990. Yes, he rejoined in 1999, but I’m in denial. To preserve my own mental health, I pretend that Iron Maiden split up after Powerslave. For on that album, and on the two before it, you can hear what I think is Iron Maiden’s greatest contribution to the heavy metal canon. And a sizable chunk of this greatness is down to Adrian Smith’s mastery of the axe-wielding arts.
On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: Paul Ricoeur.
READ MORE about members of the Original Generation X (1954-63).