Dave Murray (musician)

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Dave Murray
Murray performing in San José, Costa Rica, 26 February 2008
Background information
Birth nameDavid Michael Murray
Born (1956-12-23) 23 December 1956 (age 64)
Edmonton, Middlesex, England
  • Musician
  • songwriter
Years active1972–present
Labels EMI
Associated acts

David Michael Murray (born 23 December 1956) [1] is an English guitarist and songwriter, best known as a member of the British heavy metal band Iron Maiden since 1976. He joined Iron Maiden early in its history, and is the second-longest serving member of the band after founder Steve Harris. Murray and Harris are the only members of Iron Maiden to have appeared on all of the band's releases.


Growing up in various areas of London, Murray became a member of a metalhead gang fighting skinheads before he took an interest in rock music at 15 and formed his first band Stone Free with Adrian Smith. After leaving school at 15, [2] he regularly answered advertisements which appeared in Melody Maker before auditioning for Iron Maiden in 1976. In 1977 he was temporarily sacked from Iron Maiden and spent six months in Smith's band, Urchin. He rejoined Iron Maiden in 1978 and remains with the band to this day.


As a child, Murray's family lived in poverty and were constantly moving to different areas of London, which meant that he was often bullied and involved in fights. [3] By the time his family settled in Clapton in 1970, Murray joined a metalhead gang that brawled with skinheads and "had a rowdy couple of hellraising years of being out on the street." [4] He developed an interest in rock music when he was 15 after hearing "Voodoo Chile" by Jimi Hendrix on the radio, about which he recalls, "everything changed, just like that. Getting into rock music wasn't like a gradual process for me; it was completely sort of extreme, totally black and white. I heard 'Voodoo Chile' on the radio and I thought, 'Bloody hell! What is THAT? How do you do THAT?' And I started hanging around the rock music section of the record stores and buying albums, thinking about getting into the big time, wondering what that would be like." [4]

After "hanging 'round record stores" and acquiring several Hendrix and blues albums, Murray decided to take up the guitar. [5] At 16, he formed his first band, a trio called Stone Free, which also included his childhood friend Adrian Smith on vocals. [5] From there, Murray would answer ads in Melody Maker and regularly audition for different bands at the weekend, [5] leading to short stints in Electric Gas, "this sort of soft-rock, American-type band", and The Secret, "this sort of mad punk band", with whom he would record a single "The Young Ones" under the alias "Reggie Mental", [6] and a demo, Café De Dance, in 1977. [7]

Murray (left) performing with Adrian Smith in 1982 Iron Maiden 05.jpg
Murray (left) performing with Adrian Smith in 1982

He auditioned for Iron Maiden in late 1976, eager to get back into "a more sort of heavy rock-type vibe." [7] At the time the band already had two guitarists, Dave Sullivan and Terry Rance, who disapproved of Murray being permitted to audition, seeing it as a slight on their ability. [8] The group's founder and bassist Steve Harris did not hesitate to choose Murray over Sullivan and Rance, later stating: "When the others made it plain that it was either them or Dave Murray, there was no choice. There was no way I was gonna let Dave go. Not only was he a nice bloke, he was just the best guitarist I'd ever worked with. He still is." [9] Unfortunately, after only a few months in the band, Murray was sacked following an argument with singer Dennis Wilcock after a show at the Bridge House pub in Canning Town. [10] [11]

Murray then reunited with Adrian Smith in Smith's band Urchin. [12] During his short tenure with the band, Murray recorded one single, entitled "She's a Roller", [12] after which he was asked to rejoin Iron Maiden following Dennis Wilcock's departure. [13] Murray managed to hold down a 9 to 5 job working as a storekeeper for the London Borough of Hackney, which he has stated was "so I could sleep off the night before", [14] but was able to resign once Iron Maiden signed with EMI in 1979. [15] Murray remains with Iron Maiden to the present day, and he and Harris are the only members who have appeared on all the band's commercial releases. [1]

Playing technique and style

Murray's solo guitar style throughout his career has been mainly based on the legato technique, such as on "The Trooper", which he claims "evolved naturally. I'd heard Jimi Hendrix using legato when I was growing up, and I liked that style of playing." [16] He has also written songs for the Iron Maiden, though he is less prolific than other band members, [17] usually forgoing lyric writing and instead concentrating on the musical elements of songwriting. [16] He mainly co-writes songs with another member of Iron Maiden, "Charlotte the Harlot" (from 1980's Iron Maiden ) being to date the only composition for which he is credited as sole writer. [18]

Along with Adrian Smith, Murray appears at no. 9 on Gibson's list of the "Top 10 Metal Guitarists of All Time". [19] Murray played with the jazz ensemble on Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain's instructional video Rhythms of the Beast. [20]


Murray used and endorsed Marshall amplifiers almost exclusively, [21] other than on the Somewhere in Time (1986) and Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (1988) albums and their respective tours, when he instead used Gallien-Krueger amps, and Victory Amps during the recordings of The Book Of Souls , but again Marshalls on tour (JVM410h). [22]


He has used Fender Stratocaster guitars almost exclusively. His black 1957/63 (the body is from a '63; the neck from a '57) Stratocaster, previously owned by late Free guitarist Paul Kossoff, was used approximately between 1978 and 1990. [23] [24] It was used as a template by Fender to manufacture an Artist Signature model in 2009. [25] The original now resides at his mother's home. [26] "I bought it in 1976," he said. "I saw it advertised in Melody Maker … I got the serial number to check it was [Kossoff's] guitar. It cost quite a bit of money but I didn't care. I just sold everything I had so I could get it, and I used it from then on. It just felt like I was holding a piece of magic because he had used this guitar." [27] [28]

In addition to Fender guitars, Murray has occasionally performed with various Dean, [29] Gibson, [30] Ibanez, [28] ESP and Jackson electric models. [31] During the Dance of Death World Tour 2003-4, Murray used a Gibson Hummingbird acoustic guitar for live performances of the song "Journeyman". [31]

As of 2015, his main guitar is a 2-tone sunburst Fender Californian Series Stratocaster with two Seymour Duncan Hot Rails pick-ups (bridge and neck positions), one Seymour Duncan JB Jr. pick-up (middle position) and a chrome Floyd Rose tremolo system. [30] In 2015, Seymour Duncan announced the release of the official Dave Murray Loaded Pickguard set with demonstrator Danny Young performing the official video on the Seymour Duncan YouTube channel. [32] [33] [34] [35] [36] On stage, Murray has also performed with a cream USA Floyd Rose Classic Stratocaster (with a 22-fret maple neck and same electronics and hardware as the sunburst model), [37] a custom Stratocaster based on his aforementioned Paul Kossoff Fender, [30] and a Gibson Flying V. [30]

In 2010, he began using a Gibson Les Paul Traditional model, featuring Seymour Duncan '59 and JB pickups in the neck and bridge positions respectively, [30] which his guitar technician, Colin Price, states was originally brought in for Adrian Smith to try, [38] but was then bought by Murray for practising on tour. [39] In addition to this Les Paul, he primarily used a 2002 Les Paul Classic with a Seymour Duncan '59 and JB neck and bridge pickups for the recording of The Book of Souls (2015), as well as a sunburst Gibson Les Paul Axccess with the same pickup configuration and a Floyd Rose tremolo. [30]

In 2015, Fender announced a second Artist Signature model, based on his California Series Stratocaster. It retains all the specifications of his original guitar, has a compound radius fretboard and is made entirely in their Ensenada plant in Mexico. [40]

Guitar specifications


Units and tuners

Personal life

In his spare time, Murray (along with bandmate Nicko McBrain) is an avid golfer, as seen in the Rock in Rio DVD and Iron Maiden: Flight 666 ; he revealed in 2002 that he tries to play "a couple of rounds in each week" and his handicap "can be anywhere from 15 to 24." [48] Murray and his wife Tamar have one daughter named Tasha (born 1991). [1] When not on tour, Murray resides on the island of Maui, Hawaii. [1]


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