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

Imagine being in a band and working hard in its infancy or integral Progression and choosing to leave or being fired just before things finally Broke through. It’s not an uncommon event but the players In a study of today you may know of or regardless of reason deserve their credit due. 
Iron Maiden’s beginning with Bassist and writer Steve Harris at the controls had a lineup with the two guitar attacks.

Dave Sullivan and Terry Rance were already involved in many of the songs laying the groundwork in 1975 to 1976  on some songs that ultimately came out on the first Iron Maiden album. “Wrathchild” and “Iron Maiden” were already formed, as were ideas for a few others. Terry Rance simply stated it wasn’t quite the direction he was looking for and amicably announced his departure. Dave Sullivan found himself with Dave Murray and a Third guitarist momentarily in one Bob Sawyer.  Then at the end of 76, The band briefly imploded and everyone was fired. 

Terry Wapram was brought in briefly until he expressed he wished to be the only guitarist and didn’t want Dave Murray back in. Exit Terry.  Paul Todd was in for one week, Tony Parsons a couple of months, and a Fellow known as “Mad Mac” who was an excellent player in rehearsals but only lasted a couple of gigs due to debilitating stage fright. Dennis Stratton was hired and was Partner to Dave Murray and The self-Titled “Iron Maiden” LP was made. Ultimately Adrian Smith was called up to do the second album and has been the Mainstay since. The Majority of past members now are still treated and also feel like Family and you can often see them potentially standing next to you in the crowd enjoying the whole thing. 


Hawkwind was a band to see lineup changes as well but in the guitar department Founding Member Mick Slattery seems a mystery. He worked with them under the band’s formations first as Group X and Hawkwind Zoo. The Zoo part was dropped and he was Lead Guitar live in Hawkwind proper. He had a large influence in the writing of song Demos like “Hurry on Sundown” But literally at the time Hawkwind had been signed Mick dropped out to Join a Gypsy Caravan and ended up living in Ireland. The Spot was filled by Huw Lloyd Langton and it was Huw who made the first album and was to remain with them as The Spaceship traveled on.  


While on the Subject of Hawkwind Let’s briefly touch on the guitarist who stood next to One Lemmy Kilmister. Motorhead was formed quickly after Lemmy was dismissed by Hawkwind.  Larry Wallis was tapped in June of 1975 to be the First Guitarist for the Band. Wallis was on and off again guitarist for the Pink Fairies and served on Motorhead time from until March of 1976 when The Band Had thoughts of having two guitarists. Immediately after “Fast Eddie “Clarke’s audition Wallis left the audition and the band without a word.   Granted Larry Wallis had not much to fear as in years prior had worked with The Pink Fairies, Blodwyn Pig, and had done some work on Syd Barrett’s solo work and was also in the Legendary band UFO.  In Later years he branched out into being a Producer and played in many collaborations with other players, one, in particular, included Wayne Kramer of the MC5. Still…It’s difficult to fathom being the guy who walked out on Motorhead. 
There are hundreds and possibly thousands of stories and names that fall in 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


There is something to be said in that in almost every case the great guitar players who didn’t burn brightly and make it all the way, most had a high degree of contribution to the ultimate success of the band they were in. Each Left a footprint to follow.  Some excelled later, some disappeared altogether. Yet at one point they were part of it all and that’s a very cool thing to be able to say about your 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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Chris Dempsey

I play guitar a little and do some blogging here