Steve Harris (musician)

Steve Harris (musician)

Name = Steve Harris
Birth_name = Stephen Percy Harris

Img_capt = Steve Harris during a concert in Barcelona 30 November 2006.
Born = birth date and age|1956|03|12
Leytonstone, London, England
Background = non_vocal_instrumentalist
Genre = Heavy metal
Occupation = Bassist, Songwriter
Instrument = Bass, Keyboards, Backing vocals
Years_active = 1974 – present
Label = EMI
Associated_acts = Iron Maiden
"Gypsy's Kiss"
Notable_instruments = Fender Precision Bass

Stephen Percy Harris (born March 12, 1956 in Leytonstone, London, England) is the bassist, band leader and primary composer of the heavy metal band Iron Maiden. 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 Harris is the only member to remain 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, [ [ Iron Maiden Interview ] ] [ Iron Maiden Official Website ] ] and he has stated his first ambition in life before music was to become a professional footballer. [Run to the Hills: An Iron Maiden Biography]


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. He now uses his own signature RotoSound flatwound bass strings. The strings that Harris uses, SH77, have a brightness not usually associated with flatwound strings. The Bass has no Tone control and Steve taps his head or body to cue the tech for treble or bass adjustments.

Harris's influences include such bass players as Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy, Chris Squire of Yes, John Deacon of Queen, Mike Rutherford of Genesis, Geddy Lee of Rush, Andy Fraser of Free and John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, Geezer Butler of Black Sabbath, John Entwistle of The Who, John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin and particularly Pete Way from UFO.

Harris' first band was named first Influence then Gypsy's Kiss. He 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. 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".

Steve Harris is Maiden's principal composer and lyricist. His songwriting typically showcases his trademark galloping bass patterns (see below) [ [ Iron Maiden ] ] and features long songs with epic lyrics that feature many tempo changes, influenced by 1970's progressive rock bands like Yes, King Crimson, Genesis, and Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. Harris frequently writes lyrics about mythology, history or topics inspired from books and movies.

Steve Harris is often considered among the best and most influential heavy metal bassists. [Ranked "best bassist ever" in Classic Rock magazine, January 2000] He is most known for his "galloping" bass lines - 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 three colour changes since construction. Originally black, it was then changed to blue, then white.

Other musical talents

In addition to bass playing and writing music/lyrics for Iron Maiden, Steve Harris has taken on numerous other roles to support the running of the band such as:
* music production/mixing
* music video directing/editing
* live music video directing/editing
* keyboards
* backing vocals
* string/bass synthesisers

Steve Harris has been Iron Maiden's principal keyboardist (other than at live shows and on a few songs where the work has been done by Michael Kenney who doubles as his bass technician) since keyboards were first used by the band on the album "Somewhere in Time". Though since that album keyboards have played less of a role in Iron Maiden (usually), the complexity and speed of the playing has increased as Harris has improved. Initially he was not even credited for it in the band credits, just the album ones.

For the album "Somewhere in Time", Harris made his first experimentation with synthesised sounds, playing the bass synth (later on the "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son album" referred to as 'string synth'). He has also done so on subsequent albums, although it has not featured as much as it did on "Somewhere in Time" because of the band's less synthesised sounds and also the use of keyboards.

Steve Harris is also known for playing an increasing role in mixing Iron Maiden's albums as well as producing them, and has done the work himself since "Fear of the Dark". Harris also directs and edits many of the band's music videos, particularly live ones. He also owns a farm with music recording facilities. Harris' land has been used to write Maiden's albums on numerous occasions.

Harris has also contributed backing vocals on Iron Maiden records and concerts since the band's inception, though he is not always credited on the sleeves.


* Harris designed Iron Maiden's first logo which used the current "Maiden Font", seen in all of their album-releases, as stated in "The Early Days"
* Given that Harris had been the centre of attention in Maiden's early gigs the addition of Bruce Dickinson to the band's line-up originally caused small scuffles between the two as they both wanted to be at the centre of the stage. Bruce mentioned in "The Early Days" documentary that Harris occasionally elbowed him away, and he returned the favour by causing Harris to trip on his extra-long microphone stand.
* His eldest daughter, Lauren Harris, is also a singer and has released her debut album, Calm Before the Storm. She supported Iron Maiden on their "A Matter of Life and Death" tour as well as the Somewhere Back In Time World Tour. [ [ Iron Maiden Official Website - Lauren Harris joins Euro tour ] ]
* His son, George Harris plays lead guitar in a band called Burn In Reason ( [] ) who take a heavy influence from Iron Maiden, and also from bands such as Killswitch Engage, Funeral for a Friend and Underoath.
* In 1998, Harris had a signature bass sold by Fender. It was the Steve Harris Signature P Bass. It has a basswood body coloured in lake placid blue, with a maple neck and Basslines pickups. It is no longer made and very hard to find.

Discography with Iron Maiden

* "Iron Maiden" (1980)
* "Killers" (1981)
* "The Number of the Beast" (1982)
* "Piece of Mind" (1983)
* "Powerslave" (1984)
* "Live After Death" (1985)
* "Somewhere in Time" (1986)
* "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son" (1988)
* "No Prayer for the Dying" (1990)
* "Fear Of The Dark" (1992)
* "A Real Live One" (1993)
* "A Real Dead One" (1993)
* "Live at Donington" (1993)
* "The X Factor" (1995)
* "Virtual XI" (1998)
* "Brave New World" (2000)
* "Rock in Rio" (2002)
* "Dance of Death" (2003)
* "Death on the Road" (2005)
* "A Matter of Life and Death" (2006)


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