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Why the drummer Clive Burr was fired from Iron Maiden


Why the drummer Clive Burr was fired from Iron Maiden

Clive Burr was born in East Ham, Essex, England back in 1957 and grew up loving music, which ultimately made him want to become a drummer. One of the first famous bands he was a member of was Samson, from 1977 to 1978, recording two singles “Telephone” and “Mr. Rock & Roll” (Bruce Dickinson joined the band one year after he left, in 1979).


Although he had an important experience with Samson, certainly the most important part of Burr’s career started when he joined Iron Maiden in 1979. But his time with the band was over in 1982 when he was fired. But why Clive Burr, who had just recorded with Maiden their best-selling album, “Number of The Beast” in 1982, was fired?

Why the drummer Clive Burr was fired from Iron Maiden

Although Clive Burr did an incredible job on the first three Iron Maiden albums: “Iron Maiden” (1980), “Killers” (1981) and “Number of The Beast” (1982), the band decided to fire him. The reason was because he “embraced the Rock and Roll lyfestile a little too much” as the guitarist Adrian Smith revealed once.

The bassist and main songwriter Steve Harris formed the band in 1975 and always conducted the group with steady hands, not allowing anything to compromise the band’s performance. Sadly, it came to a point that Burr’s behavior was not allowing him to give his full performance when playing live. So that was the main reason the band fired him and hired Nicko McBrain as his replacement.

Adrian Smith recalled that in an interview with The Metal Voice in 2020. “Clive and I used to share a room together. He was a great guy, he was a very funny guy. He was… let’s say he embraced the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle maybe a little too much. That’s why he ended up leaving the band. Because he was a great drummer and a great guy. But it just got a bit much for him. So we had to make a change. That was very sad.”

He continued:

“And I know Bruce (Dickinson) has said, subsequently, ‘I wish we had more time to take time off so he could have sorted himself out.’ But we just didn’t have the time then because we’d finish one tour and then go straight in another one. That’s just the way you had to do it then: Tour, tour, tour. The same thing happened with Paul Di’Anno,” Adrian Smith said.

At the time, Nicko McBrain was a member of the French group Trust. They were known for the song “Antisocial”, which was successfully covered by Anthrax. He and Burr were good friends at the time. Curiously, McBrain replaced him in Iron Maiden and Burr replaced McBrain in Trust later. With the band he recorded two albums: “Trust IV” (1983) and “Man’s Trap” (1984).

In an interview with Steve Newton in 1983 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage), Bruce Dickinson had said why Burr was fired, but didn’t give many details like Smith had decades later.

“Well, he had a lot of personal problems back home, personal and emotional things. It really got to affecting his playing so much and you know, there were a lot of disagreements. A lot of stuff went down,” Bruce Dickinson said.

What Clive Burr said about being fired from Iron Maiden

In an interview with Iron Maiden Commentary in 2002, Burr was asked if he had left Iron Maiden back in 1982. He answered, saying: “Dodgy question… The decision was probably made by the band. Or, to be more accurate, by the man who’s always headed Iron Maiden.”

“Of course I’m talking about Steve Harris. It’s always been his band right from the start and, you know. I never came over one day saying, ‘That’s it, I’ve had enough, I quit.’ I simply accepted the decision as it was. Doris… Yes… Doris Day… Que sera, sera… (laughs),” Clive Burr said.

Besides working with Trust, Burr also was a member of Stratus, Gogmagog (Band with Paul Di’Anno and Janick Gers), Elixir, Desperado and Praying Mantis (Also with Paul Di’Anno and Dennis Stratton).

Multiple Sclerosis battle

In the late 90s Clive Burr was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, which is an autoimmune disease in which the insulating covers of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are damaged.

It can cause a wide range of symptoms, such as problems with vision, arms and legs movement, balance and sensation. The musician wasn’t able to play the drums like he used to and had to use a wheelchair. In the early 00s Iron Maiden made a series of charity concerts to raise money to help their ex-member. They created the “Clive Burr MS Trust Fund”.

The musician sadly passed away on March 12, 2013, which coincidentally was his birthday, at the age of 56. At the time, Steve Harris lamented his passing in an official statement. He said: “This is terribly sad news. Clive was a very old friend of all of us. He was a wonderful person and an amazing drummer who made a valuable contribution to Maiden in the early days when we were starting out.”

“This is a sad day for everyone in the band and those around him. Our thoughts and condolences are with his partner Mimi and family at this time,” Steve Harris said.

I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG

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