Personalities | Adrian Smith | Iron Maiden to Icon | Guitar Heroes

With the exception of Judas Priest, no metal band has been more influential than Iron Maiden. And it is no coincidence that Maiden first took flight when guitarist Adrian Smith joined the band one month into recording their second album, Killers, in 1981.

Adrian Frederik ‘H’ Smith was born in Hackney, East London, in February 1957. At school, he was drawn to the rock-guitar sounds of Jimi Hendrix and Ritchie Blackmore, and so set about learning how to play. While at school, he became friends with Dave Murray, and the two would play in Stone Free and would later form Urchin, though Murray would flit between them to form and then rejoin Iron Maiden. While Maiden rose to become one of England’s most popular metal bands, Urchin fell apart, and so Smith welcomed the invitation to once again play alongside Murray in 1981. Starting with Killers, and continuing with Number Of The Beast (1982), Piece Of Mind (1983), Powerslave (1984), Somewhere In Time (1986) and Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son (1988), Smith’s deceptively ‘lazy’ and melodic soloing approach would play perfect straight man to Murray’s often fiery, scalar lines, and their harmony parts would set a metal-guitar standard adhered to even today.

Smith played a variety of guitars during this era, including an Ibanez Destroyer, Gibson Les Pauls and SGs, various Dean models, custom Jacksons, Lado models and, of course, his preferred Fender Stratocasters. His amplification was – and continues to be – Marshall.

Equally important to Maiden’s sound and success during this era were Smith’s songwriting sensibilities. He wrote or co-wrote such classic FM radio hits as ‘Flight Of Icarus’, ‘2 Minutes To Midnight’, ‘Wasted Years’ and ‘Can I Play With Madness’, and helped steer the band into ever more progressive waters. This direction, however, collided with bassist Steve Harris’s musical vision, which was to return to a more straightforward metal sound. Thus, Smith left Iron Maiden to pursue solo ambitions. Recording under the acronym A.S.A.P. (Adrian Smith And Project), he released Silver And Gold in 1989, and later formed the alternative rock-influenced Psycho Motel, releasing State Of Mind (1996) and Welcome To The World (1997). Smith then rejoined Maiden in 1999 for the Ed Hunter tour and continues to record and tour with them now.

Essential Recordings

Iron Maiden: Number Of The Beast

Iron Maiden: Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son

Psycho Motel: Welcome To The World

Iron Maiden: The Final Frontier

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