Get Ready To Roll! recently conducted an interview is with lighting legend Dave "Lights" Beazley — most notably recognized as the creator of the original Eddie mask for IRON MAIDEN.
Dave is currently on the road with UFO in Russia and Europe, which is where he spoke to the site about the early days of IRON MAIDEN, from when the band used to come round to his place and rehearse — leading on to his part in designing the stage sets that were such a distinctive part of the IRON MAIDEN shows. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow:
Get Ready To Roll!: Dave, you were there right back in the early days of IRON MAIDEN. What part did you play in their early years?
Dave: I promoted Steve Harris's first gig back in about 1974/75. There was a "Battle Of The Bands" competition in our local church hall, and his band was called GYPSY'S KISS (so called 'cos Gypsy's Kiss is cockney rhyming slang for "piss"). That was the first time I met Steve. The next time we met up, he was with his girlfriend Lorraine, who was a friend of my first wife Kim. I'd left home at 15 and was living in a vicarage, and Lorraine asked me if her new boyfriend "Bomber" Harris could come round and rehearse with his new band at the vicarage. This new band was IRON MAIDEN! As time went on I got more involved with them, and when they started getting gigs I offered to set up a lighting rig for them, as I was doing an interior design course and lighting was something I was very interested in.
Get Ready To Roll!: What creative juices led to the concept of Eddie, and how much input did you have into the way he developed? And have you come to look on Eddie as one of your family?
Dave: Eddie The 'Ed was a joke that was going around at the time, i.e. a couple had a child, but when the child was born it was only a head — no arms, legs or anything else. The couple were devastated but the doctor said, "Don't give up hope. When the head's grown to its full size, which will be when the boy is about 14 years old, we'll fix him up with a body." So the couple put Eddie on the mantle-piece and looked after him for the next fourteen years. On his fourteenth birthday they said to him, "Eddie, we have a very special present for you," and Eddie replied, "Not another fuckin hat!" So yes, the idea for Eddie grew out of that joke! In the song "Iron Maiden", the lyric goes, "See the blood begin to flow," etc. So, on the backdrop that we used for the pub gigs, with the help of a friend from art college I rigged up a mask that was made from a mould of my own face which coughed up blood in time to those lyrics. The Eddie that was used as the band became more famous was designed from artwork by Derek Riggs, but the original idea started with that joke, and that first mask. As to whether I see him as family, yes, in a way I suppose I do!
Get Ready To Roll!: Tell us about your design for the "Piece Of Mind" set etc.
Dave: By the time IRON MAIDEN were promoting the "Piece Of Mind" album, the tours were running into months rather than weeks. We'd previously hired all the lighting equipment, but with a 10-12 month tour coming up it was obvious that it would be easier to design and build a set that we could take with us on the road. Not only would this be cheaper in the long run than hiring, but it also meant that everywhere we went, the fans could see the same show. In the late '80s the USA venues were generally able to offer more scope for a lighting system than UK and European venues could offer, and we felt that everyone should be able to see the same quality of show — so I designed a ground-support system with a moving lighting rig which could be taken into every venue we'd be playing at.
Read the entire interview at www.getreadytoroll.com.