Birth name Stephen Percy Harris
Genre(s) Metal, Hard Rock, Jazz,
RockInstrument(s) Bass, Keyboards, Guitar, Harmonica, occasionally drums
Years active 1973present Label(s) EMI Associated acts Iron Maiden, Gypsy's Kiss, Smiler
Stephen Percy Harris or 'Arry to his fans is the bassist and primary composer Iron Maiden. He founded the band as a teenager in 1975. He is the only original member of the band that still remains, over thirty years on.
Harris has been influenced by other bass players such as 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, Martin Turner of Wishbone Ash, Geezer Butler of Black Sabbath, and John Entwistle of The Who. One of his all-time favourite bass players was Pete Way from UFO, who was said to influence Harris' playing style greatly.
Harris's first band was named Influence, which was later renamed to 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. Steve Harris got 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. Harris's songwriting has been noted for, a galloping bass pattern (see below)and long, epic songs that feature many tempo changes. Influenced by 1970's progressive rock bands like King Crimson and Genesis, Harris frequently writes lyrics about mythology, history or topics inspired from books and movies. Harris has commented on the difference between 1970s progressive music (called "progressive") and contemporary progressive-style music (known as "prog"), a distinction which is becoming recognised.
Steve Harris is often considered among the best and most influential heavy metal bassists. He frequently writes bass lines with a 'gallop', a pattern consisting of three rapid notes one eighth and two sixteenths which he plays with three fingers. Before playing, Harris often greases his fingers, to make such 'gallops' 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 and plays intricate accompaniment in many of Maiden's songs. He also uses power chords, which are relatively unheard of 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 featured on every Iron Maiden album recorded. It is currently sporting the West Ham United F.C. logo. The guitar has gone through three colour changes since construction. Originally being white, it was then changed to black, then blue, and is currently cream with the rim done in West Ham's light-blue, and the club's logo on the body. The pickguard is metallic. He is also known to use a West Ham United football scarf to cover his strap.
Other musical talents:
- Music production/mixing
- Music video directing/editing
- Live music video directing/editing
- 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) since keyboards were first used by the band on the album Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. Though since that album keyboards have played less of a role in Iron Maiden, the complexity and speed of the playing has increased as Steve has improved. For the first time, on the A Matter of Life and Death album he was credited for 'bass guitar, keyboards' rather than keyboards getting a small reference in the main credits.
While he has proven skill with keyboards and at producing a synthesised sound, Steve Harris has apparently shown a lack of ability at drumming. At times he has been known to demonstrate to Nicko McBrain what he wants Nicko to play.
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. Steve also directs and edits many of the band's music videos, particularly live ones. He also owns a farm with music recording facilities.
Steve has also been involved in backing vocals for Iron Maiden songs. Since his fellow backing vocalist Adrian Smith left Iron Maiden in 1990, he has not been credited for this. However, he has continued to provide backing vocals when playing live performances of older Iron Maiden songs with the band.
In The Early Days documentary he revealed that he originally wanted to be a drummer, but as he lived with his grandmother he didn't have enough room for a drum-set.
Harris designed Iron Maiden's first logo which used the current Maiden Font, seen in all of their album-releases.
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.
The darker tone of the album The X Factor has often been attributed due to problems in Harris's personal life while making the album. He had recently divorced and his father had also died.
His oldest daughter, Lauren Harris, is also a singer and due to release her debut album soon. She recently supported Iron Maiden on their A Matter of Life and Death tour.
In 1996, Harris had a signature bass sold by Fender. It was the Steve Harris Sigature P Bass. It has a basswood body colored in lake placid blue, with a maple neck and bassline pickups. It is no longer made and very hard to find
Discography with Iron Maiden
* 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)
* Flight 666 (2009)