IRON MAIDEN…YEAR ZERO
On the 4th of May, 2019, Gypsy’s Kiss gave a rare live performance at the ‘Cart & Horses’ pub in Stratford, North East London. This was the very first band with which a teenage boy called Steve Harris played, back in 1972, before then joining Smiler. After Smiler, Harris then formed Iron Maiden and it was at the ‘Cart & Horses’ that Iron Maiden played their first gigs, in December 1975 and all through 1976. The rest, as they say, is history.
This month’s concert was a testament to the unique status of Iron Maiden as an institution where fans, ex-band members and associates are very much like an extended family of the band. Sharing the bill with Gypsy’s Kiss were Buffalo Fish and Airforce. Buffalo Fish feature guitarist Terry Wapram, who played with Iron Maiden in 1977. Airforce, who headlined the show, feature drummer Doug Sampson, who played in the first official recordings of Iron Maiden, besides also playing with Smiler before that.
Within the audience at the ‘Cart & Horses’ were ex-crew members of Iron Maiden, family members of Harris as well as the widow of Clive Burr, the drummer we can hear in Iron Maiden’s first 3 albums. The venue itself is a permanent shrine to Iron Maiden, as evidenced by its décor, the music played there and, most obviously, a sign above its entrance that boasts “The birthplace of Iron Maiden”.
(Also present in the audience was Steve ‘Loopy’ Newhouse, who recently published his memoirs as Iron Maiden’s roadie.)
So, who really were Gypsy’s Kiss? The band was co-formed by vocalist/guitarist Dave Smith, who told me how the band came to be:
“Steve Harris and I lived a short distance from each other but more importantly we went to the same School (Leyton County High School for Boys). I’m 18 months older than Steve (as is Paull Sears), so he was in a year below me but I knew him very well. We became close friends when we left school (1973), we both loved music and went to loads of gigs together and we decided to form a band and I helped him choose his first bass (a Fender Telecaster Bass copy and then a Danelectron Bass – like the bassist in Golden Earring). There were only two of us but we were still determined to form a rock band, we found and played with a number of drummers before finding the fantastic Paull Sears (who was a friend of a bloke I worked with). Bob Verschoyle was a friend of Steve. I was also the singer (as I am now) but developed a sore throat before a gig and asked Bob to help out – and he stayed with us.”
At the aforementioned ‘Cart & Horses’ gig, the set-list of Gypsy’s Kiss included both originals and covers, songs that the band used to play in the 1970s or that were of significant influence on Gypsy’s Kiss. Smith offered us some insight into Gypsy’s Kiss transition from Influence and described the band’s set-lists back then:
“We formed Influence in the winter of 1973 and rehearsed (famously in the living room of Steve’s grandma and Allan Gordon Studios in Leyton, NE London) and played to family for a few months before a gig/talent contest in Poplar. Our first paying gig was in the Cart and Horses (I think late April 1974). Influence became Gypsy’s Kiss in mid-1974 – it was essentially the same band playing the same material although we added Tim Nash as a second guitarist for GK (we had ditched a few second guitarists before finding Tim).
We had about 9 paying gigs mostly at the Bridge House, in Canning Town (London) and the Cart and Horses. GK came to its natural end in the middle of 1975, although we remained close friends for a good while after (Bob, Paull and I remain good friends to this day).
Our setlist from that first gig at the Cart (45 years ago) was something like this:
Original songs (written by David Smith and played at the 4th May gig):
I asked Dave if he is still in contact with Steve Harris after all these years:
“Steve and I have, of course, met up since but are not close friends now as we once were. I’m still good friends with his sister (Linda) who I also see from time to time. I last saw Steve at the IM gig at the O2 Arena last summer. But in December 2013, he came to a Front Cover’s gig (one of my other current bands) in Gidea Park, Essex (and Bob and Paull were there too).”
Gypsy’s Kiss had reunited for Burrfest of March 2018. The festival was inspired by the late Clive Burr and features bands somehow linked with Iron Maiden. Bob Verschoyle was the singer of Gypsy’s Kiss at that event. Encouraged by the warm reception to that performance, Gypsy’s Kiss did a further 2 gigs later that year, both in London. Now, with a different line-up and with Dave Smith taking over lead vocal duties besides still playing guitar, the band is even working on an album, as Smith reveals:
“We are currently recording an album of original material (our first) which will include the 4 songs from 1974 and we hope that this will be out in August.”
The hereunder footage is being made available exclusively for The Power of Metal Webzine. It contains excerpts from Gypsy’s Kiss’ gig at the ‘Cart & Horses’ on 4th May, 2019 (the gig I described in this article). Of course the audio-visual qualities are far from perfect and in fact I would advise to keep volume controls close at hand. But this is as close as Iron Maiden fans might get to reliving the birth of their idols. And the same fans might even discover that this Gypsy’s Kiss has great material of its own. Gypsy’s Kiss is going to get you, wherever you are….