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Home » “Almost Famous” The guitarists who were there and then gone

“Almost Famous” The guitarists who were there and then gone

Have you ever thought about how it would feel to be a part of a band and work hard during its infancy or integral progression, only to leave or be fired just before things finally broke through? It’s not an uncommon event in the music industry, but it can be devastating for the players involved, regardless of the reason behind it. One band that has had its fair share of lineup changes is Iron Maiden. The band was formed in 1975 by bassist and primary songwriter Steve Harris. In their early days, they had a unique lineup with two guitarists, Dave Murray and Dennis Stratton, who were known for their signature dual guitar attacks. Despite the lineup changes over the years, Iron Maiden has continued to maintain a loyal fan base and cement their place in the heavy metal genre.

Dave Sullivan and Terry Rance were involved in creating many of the songs that laid the groundwork for the first Iron Maiden album in 1975 to 1976. “Wrathchild” and “Iron Maiden” were already formed, and they had ideas for a few others. However, Terry Rance announced his departure, stating that it wasn’t quite the direction he was looking for. Dave Sullivan then found himself playing with Dave Murray and a third guitarist, Bob Sawyer, for a brief moment. However, the band imploded at the end of 1976, and everyone was fired.

Terry Wapram briefly joined the band, but he left after expressing his desire to be the only guitarist and not wanting Dave Murray back. Paul Todd was in for only a week, Tony Parsons for a couple of months, and a fellow known as “Mad Mac” was an excellent player during rehearsals but only lasted a couple of gigs due to debilitating stage fright. Dennis Stratton was hired and was a partner to Dave Murray, and together they made the self-titled “Iron Maiden” LP. Adrian Smith was called in to do the second album and has been the mainstay since. Most of the past members are still treated like family, and you can often see them standing next to you in the crowd, enjoying the whole thing.

Hawkwind, the British rock band, went through several lineup changes over the years, particularly in the guitar department. One of the founding members of the band, Mick Slattery, worked with them when they were still known as Group X and Hawkwind Zoo. After the Zoo part of their name was dropped, he became the lead guitarist for the band’s live performances. Mick had a significant influence in the writing of some of the band’s song demos, including the popular “Hurry on Sundown”. However, just as Hawkwind had signed their first record deal, Mick unexpectedly dropped out to join a Gypsy Caravan and ended up living in Ireland. The band continued on without him and the guitar spot was filled by Huw Lloyd Langton, who went on to record their first album with them and stayed on as a member as the band’s popularity soared.

While we’re on the subject of Hawkwind, let’s briefly talk about the guitarist who stood next to Lemmy Kilmister. After Lemmy was dismissed by Hawkwind, Motorhead was formed quickly. In June of 1975, Larry Wallis was asked to be the first guitarist for the band. Wallis had worked as an on-and-off guitarist for the Pink Fairies and played in Motorhead until March of 1976 when the band decided to have two guitarists. After “Fast Eddie” Clarke’s audition, Wallis left the band without saying a word. Although Wallis had little to fear, having previously worked with The Pink Fairies, Blodwyn Pig, and even on Syd Barrett’s solo work, as well as being a member of the legendary band UFO, it’s still difficult to fathom being the guy who walked out on Motorhead. In later years, Wallis became a producer and played in many collaborations with other musicians, including Wayne Kramer of the MC5. While there are hundreds, possibly thousands of stories and names that fall into this category, there is one that has been told a million times but the gravity of the situation and the music that spawned from it must be addressed once more.

The man who was fired from a band often called “ALCAHOLICA” is Better known as “Metallica”, Dave Mustaine. Dave Mustaine has proven to the world that even though his substance abuse of a larger part of his career in both bands has not slowed his Talent and Prolific work ethic. Now I am a Die-Hard fan of Both Metallica and Megadeth, But I doubt Metallica would have lasted to hit the point of being signed without Dave. To be fired with the sleep still in your eyes and put on a 4-day bus ride home on the eve of recording the first album is Harsh. To Be fired for overindulgence is somewhat the pot calling the Kettle Black. Over the years the subject has been pretty much resolved, yet Dave has always been vocal about feeling second best. A man feels what he feels, but my personal opinion is if a Band uses songs you wrote or helped write on their debut, it says your work was Great.

The Quality and ever-increasing output that came from Megadeth shows you are Equal and in again my own opinion, Better. I Own “Kill Em’ all” through “And Justice for all” but that was the end of the line for me. No Matter the amount of rehabs, Dave hasn’t done an album that I didn’t Love, and in recent years If I didn’t love the whole thing, I found something in it I had respect for. I‘ve seen Metallica twice First on the “Master of Puppets” Tour 2nd row with Cliff Burton which is in the top 3 shows I ever was witness to.

I went to date on the “Black Album” tour but quickly abandoned the idea of being there for the music and switched to “Hey I’m just gonna Party with 60 thousand other people, I’m at Legend Valley.” Megadeth I watched on the “Peace Sells” tour when they opened for Judas Priest. In actual fact due to where our seats were, sort of side stage, half backstage view I watched Megadeth while watching the back of Rob Halford’s head, as he came out and sat 2 rows in front of us for Megadeth’s entire set. That alone shows The credibility of Mustaine’s work. If I ever have the opportunity to go to another Megadeth gig, I’m all in. 

Not ALMOST FAMOUS Now But A Crowd Magnet Megadeath Holy Wars Live At Hammersmith

“It can be argued that in almost every case, the great guitar players who didn’t reach ultimate success in their careers, still made a significant contribution to the success of the band they were in. They left a mark that others could follow. Some went on to excel later, while others disappeared altogether. Nevertheless, at some point, they were all part of something bigger, and that’s a very cool thing to be able to say about one’s life.”

3 thoughts on ““Almost Famous” The guitarists who were there and then gone”

  1. Olivia Tosic ( Rock’N’R’Olivia)

    To the writer: I, too, am an entertainment journalist from WAY BACK … and you should seriously look up and include DAVE EVANS, a founding member of AC/DC. YOULL BE SHOCKED!

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