Stephen Percy Harris (born 12 March 1956 in Leytonstone, London, England) is an English musician, bassist, keyboardist, backing vocalist, primary songwriter, and founder of Iron Maiden.
He is the bassist, band leader and primary composer of the Iron Maiden. In addition, he plays keyboards, and sings backing vocals. He founded the band as a teenager in 1975. He and Dave Murray are the only members of the band to have appeared on all of the band's albums, and Harris is the only member to remain in the band throughout its duration.
He used to work as an architectural draftsman in the East End of London but gave up his job upon forming Iron Maiden. During the mid 1970s he was a youth team footballer for West Ham United. He still is a talented amateur football player and often has the crest of West Ham on his bass, and he has stated his first ambition in life before music was to become a professional footballer.
Harris is a self-taught bass player. His first bass was a copy of a Fender Precision Bass that cost him £40 when he was 17 years old. He went on to use a signature Lado "Unicorn" model and an early 1970s Fender Precision with RotoSound strings. He now uses his own signature RotoSound flatwound bass strings. The strings that Harris uses, SH77, have a brightness not usually associated with flatwound strings. The Bass has no Tone control and Steve taps his head or body to cue the tech for treble or bass adjustments. Also Steve Harris is the inventor of galloping bass technique.
Harris's influences include such bass players as Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy, Chris Squire of Yes, John Deacon of Queen, Mike Rutherford of Genesis, Geddy Lee of Rush, Andy Fraser of Free and John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, Geezer Butler of Black Sabbath, John Entwistle of The Who, John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin and particularly Pete Way from UFO, Rinus Gerritsen of Golden Earring (Kill me ce soir cover, B side of No prayer for the Dying).
Harris' first band was named first Influence then Gypsy's Kiss. He later joined Smiler, of which all the band members were several years older than he was. He ended up leaving, as the members of the band made it clear that they did not care for a bassist who leapt around the stage and wrote songs. After Smiler, Harris went on to create Iron Maiden, getting the name from seeing an iron maiden, a type of torture instrument, in the movie The Man in the Iron Mask.
Steve Harris is Maiden's principal composer and lyricist. His songwriting typically showcases his trademark galloping bass patterns (see below) and features long songs with epic lyrics that feature many tempo changes, influenced by 1970's progressive rock bands like Yes, King Crimson, Genesis, and Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. Harris frequently writes lyrics about mythology, history or topics inspired from books and movies.
Steve Harris is often considered among the best and most influential heavy metal bassists. He is most known for his "galloping" bass lines - usually an eighth note followed by two sixteenth notes at fast tempo (e.g., "The Trooper") – which he plays with two fingers. Before playing, Harris often chalks his fingers, to make these fast patterns easier to play, as shown on the bonus DVD for the A Matter of Life and Death album. Besides this he is very adventurous on the bass and plays intricate accompaniment in many of Maiden's songs. He also uses power chords, which are unusual on bass, on several songs. Harris has also stated that he never uses a pick and that he never warms up before a show.
He plays a specially-painted bass guitar which has been featured on every Iron Maiden album. The guitar has gone through three colour changes since construction. Originally black, it was then changed to blue, then white.
Steve Harris has been seen with different bass guitars during his career, mostly Fender P-Basses. This list may not contain every bass, and most of them are retired, and the first ones in this list are from his earliest days from his career as a musician.
- Fender Precision Bass Copy: White, white pickguard, maple neck.
- Fender '70s Jazz Bass: Sunburst w. tortoise pickuard, rosewood fretboard.
- Fender '70s Precision Bass: White w/ West Ham crest (formerly white, then black, then blue), mirror pickguard (formerly black), maple neck.
- Fender '50s Precision Bass: Chess finish (formerly white), mirror pickguard (formerly black), rosewood fretboard.
- Fender '70s Precision Bass: White, black pickguard, maple neck.
- Ibanez Roadster Bass: Black, maple neck (White pickups).
- Ibanez Roadster Bass: Black, maple neck (Black pickups).
- Danelectro Bass: Brown, rosewood fretboard.
- Fender '80s Precision Bass: Red, mirror pickguard (formerly black), maple neck.
- Fender '80s Precision Bass: Red, black pickguard, maple neck.
- Fender '80s Precision Bass: Red, black pickguard, rosewood fretboard.
- Lado Steve Harris Signature Unicorn Bass: Blue w. Unicorn graphic, rosewood fretboard.
- Lado Super Falcon Bass: Blue w. Falcon graphic, rosewood fretboard. (He's been using two such basses, one being a proto-type and was delivered back to Lado.)
- Unknown brand: Natural, rosewood fretboard.
- Unknown brand, possibly a "small luthier" bass: Golden, rosewood fretboard.
- Fender '80s Precision Bass: Black, white pickguard, maple neck.
- Ovation Acoustic Bass: Black, rosewood fretboard.
- Fender Steve Harris Signature Precision Bass: Blue, wine-red pickguard, maple neck.
- Guild Acoustic Bass: Black, rosewood fretboard.
- Fender Special Precision Bass: Sunburst, white pickguard, rosewood fretboard.
- Fender Special Precision Bass: Black, golden pickguard, maple neck.
Other musical talentsEdit
In addition to bass playing and writing music/lyrics for Iron Maiden, Steve Harris has taken on numerous other roles to support the running of the band such as:
- music production/mixing
- music video directing/editing
- live music video directing/editing
- backing vocals
- string/bass synthesisers
Steve Harris has been Iron Maiden's principal keyboardist (other than at live shows and on a few songs where the work has been done by Michael Kenney who doubles as his bass technician) since keyboards were first used by the band on the album Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. Though since that album keyboards have played less of a role in Iron Maiden (usually), the complexity and speed of the playing has increased as Harris has improved. Initially he was not even credited for it in the band credits, just the album ones.
For the album Somewhere in Time, Harris made his first experimentation with synthesised sounds, playing the bass synth (later on the Seventh Son of a Seventh Son album referred to as 'string synth'). He has also done so on subsequent albums, although it has not featured as much as it did on Somewhere in Time because of the band's less synthesised sounds and also the use of keyboards.
Steve Harris is also known for playing an increasing role in mixing Iron Maiden's albums as well as producing them, and has done the work himself since Fear Of The Dark. Harris also directs and edits many of the band's music videos, particularly live ones. He also owns a farm with music recording facilities. Harris' land has been used to write Maiden's albums on numerous occasions it was also used to film the music video for the song Holy Smoke.
Harris has also contributed backing vocals on Iron Maiden records and concerts since the band's inception, though he is not always credited on the sleeves.
Iron Maiden Edit
- Main article: Iron Maiden discography
- 1980: Iron Maiden
- 1981: Killers
- 1982: The Number of the Beast
- 1983: Piece of Mind
- 1984: Powerslave
- 1986: Somewhere in Time
- 1988: Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
- 1990: No Prayer for the Dying
- 1992: Fear Of The Dark
- 1995: The X Factor
- 1998: Virtual XI
- 2000: Brave New World
- 2003: Dance of Death
- 2006: A Matter of Life and Death
- 2010: The Final Frontier
- 2015: The Book of Souls
- British Lion (2012)
Lauren Harris Edit
- Calm Before the Storm (2008)
- Blown (Producer, 2002)