In a new interview with the "My Planet Rocks" show on Planet Rock guitarist Adrian Smith of IRON MAIDEN spoke about the British metal legends expanding to the three-guitarist team of Smith, Dave Murray and Janick Gers after Janick remained with the band when Smith rejoined in 1999.
Adrian said: "Yeah, it could have gone horribly wrong, couldn't it? I mean, imagine that with three Yngwies [Malmsteen] or three Ritchie Blackmores. It wouldn't work.
"Dave and I go way back. At first, maybe I thought that Jan and I would do half a set each or something. But Steve [Harris, bass] came up with this mad idea. He suggested to them to have three guitarists. I'd like to have been in the room when he said that. But we tried it out.
"We went down to Portugal," he continued. "We started knocking a few ideas together in this warehouse. It was like a motorcycle club; there was all these motorbikes in there. We were all standing and looking at each other, and someone said, 'Anyone got any ideas?' So I said, 'I've got a riff.' So I had 'The Wicker Man', and we started playing it, and it just clicked. So we went on from there."
Although some MAIDEN fans feared that the band's classic twin-axe interplay would be lost in an interminable sea of noodling one-upmanship, Smith says that the three-guitarist setup has gone more smoothly than expected.
"It works out," he said. "Amazingly enough, it works out. In the old stuff, there's so many harmonies, unison solos, riffs — I mean, it's so much work. It actually really works well with three guitars, especially live."
Smith's memoir, "Monsters Of River & Rock", will be released on September 3 via Virgin Books. The book is described in a press release as "the ultimate fishing-fantasy armchair read" and "the story of a rock star in a fast-moving world who seeks peace and tranquillity at the water's edge — wherever he is."
Smith was born in Hackney, East London, on February 27, 1957. He joined MAIDEN at the end of 1980. Adrian is the bandmember who has collaborated on the most side projects outside of IRON MAIDEN, as well as writing and recording a series of albums in the early '90s, before rejoining the band. IRON MAIDEN has sold 100 million albums, and tour the world playing to millions of fans. Onstage, Adrian uses Jackson and Gibson guitars. Offstage, he is an avid tennis player. However, his main hobby is fishing.
Photo credit: Nathalie Dufresne-Smith