Dave Murray (musician)

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Dave Murray
Dave Murray performing in San José, Costa Rica, 26 February 2008
Background information
Birth name David Michael Murray
Born (1956-12-23) 23 December 1956 (age 60)
Edmonton, London, England
Genres Heavy metal, hard rock
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter
Instruments Guitar
Years active 1972–present
Labels EMI
Associated acts Iron Maiden, Urchin
Notable instruments
Fender Stratocaster
Gibson Les Paul

David Michael "Dave" Murray (born 23 December 1956)[1] is an English guitarist and songwriter best known as one of the earliest members of the British heavy metal band Iron Maiden. Along with the group's bassist and primary songwriter Steve Harris, Murray has appeared on all of the band's releases.

Growing up in various areas of London, Murray became a member of a skinhead gang before he took an interest in rock music at 15 and formed his own band, Stone Free, with childhood friend Adrian Smith. After leaving school at 15,[2] he regularly answered advertisements which appeared in Melody Maker before auditioning for Iron Maiden in 1976. A short while later, Murray was sacked following an argument with the group's lead vocalist, Dennis Wilcock, and spent six months in Smith's band, Urchin. In the Spring of 1978, Murray was asked to rejoin Iron Maiden following Wilcock's departure, in which he has remained to this day.


As a child, Murray's family lived in poverty and were constantly moving to different areas of London, which meant that he was often bullied and involved in fights.[3] By the time his family settled in Clapton in 1970, Murray joined a skinhead gang and "had a violent couple of years of being out on the street."[4] He developed an interest in rock music when he was 15 after hearing "Voodoo Chile" by Jimi Hendrix on the radio, about which he recalls, "everything changed, just like that. Getting into rock music wasn't like a gradual process for me; it was completely sort of extreme, totally black and white. I heard 'Voodoo Chile' on the radio and I thought, 'Bloody hell! What is THAT? How do you do THAT?' And I started hanging around the rock music section of the record stores and buying albums, thinking about getting into the big time, wondering what that would be like."[4] After "hanging 'round record stores" and acquiring several Hendrix and blues albums, Murray decided to take up the guitar.[5] At 16, he formed his first band, a trio called Stone Free, which also included Adrian Smith on vocals, who would also become a member of Iron Maiden in 1980.[5] From there, Murray would answer ads in Melody Maker and regularly audition for different bands at the weekend,[5] leading to short stints in Electric Gas, "this sort of soft-rock, American-type band," and The Secret, "this sort of mad punk band," with whom he would record a single, "Café De Dance", in 1975.[6]

Murray (left) performing with Adrian Smith in 1982.

In late 1976, he auditioned for Iron Maiden, eager to get back into "a more sort of heavy rock-type vibe."[6] at the time, the band already had two guitarists, Dave Sullivan and Terry Rance, who disapproved of Murray's admittance, seeing it as a slight on their ability.[7] The group's founder and bassist Steve Harris did not hesitate in choosing Murray over Sullivan and Rance, stating, "When the others made it plain that it was either them or Dave Murray, there was no choice. There was no way I was gonna let Dave go. Not only was he a nice bloke, he was just the best guitarist I'd ever worked with. He still is."[8] Unfortunately, after only a few months in the band, Murray was sacked following an argument with then vocalist Dennis Wilcock after a show at the Bridgehouse pub in Canning Town[9] which led him to team up with Adrian Smith again in his band, Urchin.[10] During his short tenure with this group, Murray recorded one single, entitled "She's A Roller",[10] after which he was asked to rejoin Iron Maiden following Dennis Wilcock's departure.[11] Murray managed to hold down a 9 to 5 job working as a store keeper for Hackney Council, which he states was "so I could sleep off the night before,"[12] but was able to resign once the band signed with EMI in 1979.[13]

Murray's solo guitar style throughout his career has been mainly based on the legato technique, such as on "The Trooper", which he claims "evolved naturally. I'd heard Jimi Hendrix using legato when I was growing up, and I liked that style of playing."[14] He has also written songs for the band, though he is less prolific than other band members,[15] usually forgoing lyric writing and concentrating on the musical elements of songwriting.[14] He mainly co-writes songs with another member of Iron Maiden, "Charlotte the Harlot" (from 1980's Iron Maiden) being to date the only composition to which he is solely credited.[16] Murray and Harris are the only members of Iron Maiden to have appeared on every one of the band's releases.[1] Along with Adrian Smith, he appears at no. 9 on Gibson's list of the "Top 10 Metal Guitarists of All Time".[17]

Murray played with the jazz ensemble on Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain's instructional video Rhythms of the Beast.[18]


Until he switched to Victory in 2014,[19] Murray has used and endorsed Marshall amplifiers almost exclusively,[20] other than on the Somewhere in Time (1986) and Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (1988) albums and their respective tours, when he instead used Gallien-Krueger amps.[21] He has used Fender Stratocaster guitars almost exclusively as well. His black 1957/63 (the body is from a '63 and the neck is from a '57) Stratocaster, previously owned by the late Free guitarist Paul Kossoff, was used from circa 1978–1990.[22][23] Murray states that he "bought it from an ad in the papers,"[24] and was later used as a template by Fender to manufacture an Artist Signature model in 2009,[25] while the original now resides at his mother's home.[26]

In addition to Fender guitars, Murray has occasionally performed with various Dean,[27] Gibson,[28] Ibanez,[24] ESP and Jackson electric models.[29] During the Dance of Death World Tour 2003-4, Murray used a Gibson Chet Atkins acoustic guitar for live performances of the song "Journeyman".[29]


As of 2015, his main guitar is a 2-tone sunburst Fender Californian Series Stratocaster with two Seymour Duncan Hot Rails pick-ups (bridge and neck positions), one Seymour Duncan JB Jr. pick-up (middle position) and a chrome Floyd Rose tremolo system.[28] On stage, Murray has also performed with a cream USA Floyd Rose Classic Stratocaster (with a 22-fret maple neck and same electronics and hardware as the sunburst model),[30] a custom Stratocaster based on his aforementioned Paul Kossof Fender,[28] and a Gibson Flying V.[28] In 2010, he began using a Gibson Les Paul Traditional model, featuring Seymour Duncan '59 and JB pickups in the neck and bridge positions respectively,[28] which his guitar technician, Colin Price, states was originally brought in for Adrian Smith to try,[31] but was then bought by Murray for practising on tour.[32] In addition to this Les Paul, he primarily used a 2002 Les Paul Classic with a Seymour Duncan '59 and JB neck and bridge pickups for the recording of The Book of Souls (2015), as well as a sunburst Gibson Les Paul Axccess with the same pickup configuration and a Floyd Rose tremolo.[28]

In 2015, Fender announced a second Artist Signature model, based on his California Series Stratocaster. It retains all the specifications of his original guitar, has a compound radius fretboard and is made entirely in their Ensenada plant in Mexico.[33]

Guitar Specifications[edit]

  • Ernie Ball Strings – custom gauge .009, .011, .014, .024, .032, .042
  • Seymour Duncan Hot Rails single coil sized humbucking pick-ups with dual blade coils[34]
  • "Original" Floyd Rose Locking Tremolo Systems[34]
  • His Artist Signature model features a soft "V"-shaped maple neck with satin back and sports a humbucker/single-coil/humbucker (HSH) configuration – DiMarzio Super Distortion DP100 (bridge), American Vintage '57/'62 (middle), DiMarzio PAF DP-103 (neck) – with 3-way switching and American Vintage hardware.[14][23] The Japanese-made "Tribute" version of the guitar (HST-57DM) features an "Original" Floyd Rose double-locking tremolo system, dual DiMarzio Super Distortion DP100 humbucking pick-ups (bridge/neck), a Fender Texas Special single-coil pick-up in the middle position, a 5-way pick-up selector and an oval neck profile[35]
  • The original black '57 Stratocaster has similar features to his Artist Series Model[23]


  • 2 x Marshall 1960B Straight Cabinet / 4x12 300-Watt Loaded with Celestion 12" G12T 75 Watt Speakers[36]
  • 3 x Marshall JCM 2000 DSL tube heads (rack gear plugs into power amp section via FX loop)[31][37]
  • Marshall 9200 Rack Power Amp (as backup for main heads)[37]
  • Victory V100 head with Victory V412 Cabinet (as of 2014)[19]
  • Fender Super-Sonic 100-watt 2x12 combo[38]

Units and tuners[edit]

Personal life[edit]

In his spare time, Murray, along with bandmate Nicko McBrain, is an avid golfer as seen in the Rock in Rio DVD and Iron Maiden: Flight 666, revealing in 2002 that he tries to play "a couple of rounds in each week" and his handicap "can be anywhere from 15 to 24."[40] Murray and his wife Tamar have one daughter named Tasha (born 1991).[1]

When not on tour, Murray resides on the island of Maui, Hawaii.[1]



  1. ^ a b c d Wall 2004, p. 35.
  2. ^ Wall 2004, p. 40.
  3. ^ Wall 2004, p. 37.
  4. ^ a b Wall 2004, p. 39.
  5. ^ a b c Wall 2004, p. 41.
  6. ^ a b Wall 2004, p. 42.
  7. ^ Wall 2004, p. 33.
  8. ^ Wall 2004, p. 34.
  9. ^ Wall 2004, p. 46.
  10. ^ a b Wall 2004, p. 47.
  11. ^ Wall 2004, p. 50.
  12. ^ Bushell, Garry; Halfin, Ross (1985). Running Free, The Official Story of Iron Maiden (2nd ed.). Zomba Books. p. 32. ISBN 0-946391-84-X. 
  13. ^ Wall 2004, p. 114.
  14. ^ a b c McIver, Joel (December 2010). "Iron Maiden: Dave Murray". Total Guitar (208): 32–34. 
  15. ^ Ling, Dave (2005). "Dave Murray". Metal Hammer presents: Iron Maiden 30 Years of Metal Mayhem: 47. 
  16. ^ Wall 2004, p. 144.
  17. ^ Erickson, Anne (30 September 2015). "Top 10 Metal Guitarists of All Time". Gibson.com. Retrieved 26 December 2015. 
  18. ^ "Nicko McBrain: Rhythms of the Beast". Artistdirect. Retrieved 21 November 2012. 
  19. ^ a b "V100 played by Dave Murray on Iron Maiden's The Book of Souls". VictoryAmps.com. 7 September 2015. Retrieved 28 March 2016. 
  20. ^ "Products Used by Dave Murray". TC Electronic. Retrieved 5 August 2016. 
  21. ^ "Steve Harris and Dave Murray of Iron Maiden Open Up in 1988 Guitar World Interview". Guitar World. 21 September 2011. 
  22. ^ Bienstock, Richard (3 July 2011). "Iron Maiden: Maiden Voyage (page 2)". Guitar World. Retrieved 10 October 2011. 
  23. ^ a b c "Dave Murray Signature Fender Strat". Premier Guitar. November 2010. Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  24. ^ a b Thompson, Kevin (August 1983). "Interview with Bruce Dickinson, Adrian Smith, Dave Murray and Steve Harris". Artist Magazine. I bought it from an ad in the papers. [Other than that, I have] three Fender Stratocasters and an Ibanez Destroyer I picked up on tour. 
  25. ^ "Dave Murray Stratocaster®". Fender. Archived from the original on 28 January 2013. Retrieved 6 October 2011. 
  26. ^ "Iron Maiden Dave Murray's 1957 Fender Stratocaster Electric Guitar". Gear Vault. 10 September 2009. Retrieved 6 March 2012. 
  27. ^ "The Dean Artists- Dave Murray of Iron Maiden". Dean Guitars. Retrieved 5 January 2013. 
  28. ^ a b c d e f Laing, Rob (3 December 2015). "Iron Maiden guitarist Dave Murray's guitars". MusicRadar. Retrieved 5 August 2016. 
  29. ^ a b Heatley, Michael (2005). "Hardware". Metal Hammer presents: Iron Maiden 30 Years of Metal Mayhem: 68. 
  30. ^ "Dave Murray's Fender American Standard Strat (Cream)". Premier Guitar. November 2010. Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  31. ^ a b c d e f "Iron Maiden: Dave Murray's Guitar Rig Rundown". Blabbermouth.net. 16 November 2011. Retrieved 16 November 2011. 
  32. ^ "Dave Murray's Gibson Les Paul". Premier Guitar. November 2010. Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  33. ^ Parker, Matt. "NAMM 2015: Fender unveils Dave Murray California Series Strat". MusicRadar. Retrieved 6 September 2015. 
  34. ^ a b "Dave Murray's Fender American Standard Strat". Premier Guitar. November 2010. Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  35. ^ Bradley, Simon (24 June 2009). "Dave Murray Stratocaster review". MusicRadar. Retrieved 6 October 2011. 
  36. ^ Cooper, Adam (23 August 2003). "Dave Murray's 2003 Iron Maiden Guitar Rig". GuitarGeek.com.
  37. ^ a b c d e f g "Dave Murray's Rack". Premier Guitar. November 2010. Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  38. ^ a b c d e f g h Bosso, Joe (19 October 2015). "Iron Maiden: Out of Thin Air". Premier Guitar. Retrieved 5 August 2016. 
  39. ^ a b c "Dave Murray's MIDI". Premier Guitar. November 2010. Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  40. ^ Brannigan, Paul (2002). "Dave Murray". Kerrang! Legends (2): 16. 


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