Note: My initial idea was to attach the hereunder chat to the V1 interview (see http://powerofmetal.dk/2017/05/interview-v1-band/ ). But then I realised that Tony didn’t play with V1 and I also wanted to spend a few words on the solo performance I had witnessed. Hence I amended my plans and set this up as a separate write-up, but with both the V1 interview and this one having clear links to each other. Happy reading!
The Story so Far
Iron Maiden had been together for 2 years and already several line-up changes jeopardised the band’s existence. In order to improve the band’s chances of survival, a strategic decision was made to recruit a keyboardist. But after firing original drummer Ron ‘Rebel’ Matthews, the band also needed a drummer. So early in 1977, Iron Maiden set out to recruit both a drummer and keyboardist.
Enter Tony Moore
Auditions made, Iron Maiden felt that budding young keyboardist Tony Moore was the right guy for the job. (The drummer’s post went to Barry ‘Thunderstick’ Purkiss).
The day before V1 were set to launch their debut album, I found out that Tony was giving a solo performance in the South of London. I reckoned it was an excellent opportunity to ask him for his own perspective of his Iron Maiden years.
When you joined Iron Maiden, was it the idea for the keyboards to be an integral part of the band’s new sound or did they just want you to smoothen the rough edges of the band’s songs?
Tony: I think that in the early days of Maiden, Steve [Harris….bassist and founder] and Dennis [Willcock….vocalist] were trying to work out what the formula should be for the sound. And I seem to remember at the time that there was a big single called ‘Bells Of Berlin’ by a band called Lonestar, which probably not many people remember these days but I’m sure you can find on YouTube. If you listen to that song, you can hear a certain style of Maiden’s songs but with a lead guitar and a lead synth.
So that was the template they had in mind….
Tony: I think so. So they put an advert in the Melody Maker and I answered the advert. I think I had spoken to Dennis. I came all the way from Bristol, which is about 2 hours drive from London. I set up my keyboard in Ska Studios in Mile End, which was where the auditions were being held. [Mile End is an area of London which connects Stratford…in the North East of London…to central London.] We ran through some songs for about 45 minutes or so and it was fantastic. I remember the guys were full of passion and energy. They went out of the room, then they came back in and said “The gig’s yours if you want it.” So I moved to London to join Iron Maiden.
Presumably in Iron Maiden you worked closely with guitarist Terry Wapram [later with V1]…at least with regards to the songs’ melodies. What was it like rehearsing and playing with Terry?
Tony: Bizarrely enough I moved to London and the road that I moved into he lived on exactly the same road. I could have moved anywhere in London but I moved into the same road where Terry was living. In fact I didn’t know he lived there until I told him where I was staying. So we used to drive to rehearsals together…..he didn’t drive in those days so we used to load our gear in my car and drive to rehearsals in the East of London together. And so Terry and I built a strong friendship talking about what the band was going to do. Terry was very much a London-based musician whereas I was so fresh to London back then. I was quite naive. So he would tell me about the bands of London and the pub scene…we were really excited about the idea of Iron Maiden being this massive world-wide super group…which of course it did go on to become.
Is it true you also played with V1 after leaving Iron Maiden?
Tony: No. There came a point with Iron Maiden where it became clear that the keyboard wasn’t working. Maybe it just wasn’t the right formula. So after leaving Iron Maiden I joined a band with the guitarist Brian James, who had been in The Damned. The first 2 Punk records we did…..released ahead of The Sex Pistols…were ‘Neat Neat Neat’ and ‘New Rose’. He’d written those in The Damned. Together we formed the band Tanz Der Youth. So that was the first band I was in after Iron Maiden.
After Iron Maiden, you made a name for yourself in music far detached from Metal. If the opportunity emerged for you to be involved in a band or project pertaining to a Rock or Metal genre, would you be prepared to consider it?
Tony: Well, I did do a few other Rock things. I had joined a band called England…they were a Progressive Rock band. Their music perhaps was not as quite as heavy but there were a lot of intricate guitar and keyboard stuff. And then I joined a band called Shogun, which did a slightly Bon-Jovi-kind-of-Rock…again with some big keyboard parts in it. This was in the early 1980s…before Cutting Crew.
Tony: You know, I love Rock music, I’m a big Rock fan and I’m proud of the period I spent with Iron Maiden. I’ve seen them lots of times after I had left them and in fact I’m going to see them again at the O2 Arena [London] this June.
I’m also really excited about Thunderstick’s new project and his forthcoming album and I’m looking forward to Terry and Dennis’ thing they’re doing with V1 now. That [the V1 debut album] is really exciting because it was never really finished.
Dennis seems really enthusiastic about V1’s comeback….
Tony: I think he posted something on FaceBook the other day when he said “I’m kinda back from the dead!” I wasn’t even sure he was alive until a few years ago because I had heard nothing about him. So it’s great to see the old faces and I’m going to be there at the launch gig tomorrow and support him.
Sure enough I met Tony Moore again the next day at the gig where V1 launched their debut album “Armageddon”. You can read about that elsewhere in this publication.
During the chat I had with him, Tony barely touched the surface of his artistic achievements. For instance, after Iron Maiden, he got involved in Radio and TV broadcasting and also made a name for himself as a music entrepreneur. He has got into acting and he has also just released a new (solo) single. Like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle coming together, all this found its way into the performance that followed…
Having a free entry and there being an audience that ranged from quite young to not so young, a warm feel-good vibe thronged The Sound Lounge for this intimate performance. Before Tony Moore hit the stage, two solo artists each performed a number of songs they themselves had penned. So, to be clear, tonight Metal took a backseat.
Tony’s set-up included vocals and an alternation between acoustic guitar and keyboard. Even if I knew nothing about him it was clear he was more at ease with the keyboard but his sense of humour and eloquent introductions to each song ensured the audience was hooked. His set consisted of songs that marked all of his music career even though I wasn’t familiar with all of them. I liked his new single ‘Proud And Beautiful’, which he performed for the first time, and magic filled the venue when he played ‘I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight’, probably the biggest hit single he had had with Cutting Crew in the early 1980s (look for it on YouTube). ‘I’m Sorry’ from his old band Tanz Der Youth, ‘Astonishing’, ‘Where You Belong’ and ‘Rock Stars Don’t Retire’ also found their way into the set. The songs’ themes tended to deal with the spiralling effect of human emotions.
All the audience, especially myself, was intrigued when at one point he shared at length his memories about driving with his then girlfriend from Bristol to London for his audition with Iron Maiden. According to Tony when he entered the rehearsal space the amount of sweat and long hair in the room was only surpassed by the burning enthusiasm of Steve Harris and co.
The performance’s highlight came at the end when Tony gave a rendition of The Beatles’ ‘Let It Be’, the only real cover of his set. Despite having heard the song a gazillion times in my life, Mr Moore still managed to breathe new life into it and when the audience responded to his invitation to join him on stage to sing the chorus, you didn’t want that moment to end.
~ Words & live photography: Chris Galea ~
‘Featured image’ photo by Mike Prior
Interview with V1: