Metal fans arose today to the tragic news that original Iron Maiden drummer Clive Burr had died from health complications due to Multiple Sclerosis. Burr was the drummer on the band’s first three albums which cemented their reputation and helped define the heavy metal genre in general and the “New Wave of British Heavy Metal” movement specifically. He was 56.
A London native, Burr had played in the band Samson which featured later singer Bruce Dickinson before joining Iron Maiden in time for the recording of their seminal debut album, 1980’s Iron Maiden. Burr’s forceful, driving style perfectly matched the band’s music which updated the leaden tone of 1970s hard rock with new-found speed, skill and aggression which literally changed the sound of the metal genre and was an important influence on later thrash bands. Their 1981 follow-up album Killers upped the ante with refined production and songwriting and included the Maiden standards “Wrathchild” and “Murders in the Rue Morgue.” Clive Burr’s last record with the band was their 1982 commercial breakthrough The Number of the Beast which contained the hit song and video “Run to the Hills.” Following 10 months of rigorous touring behind the album Burr ended his association with the group.
He soon began playing with the French metal band Trust, ironically replacing drummer Nicko McBrain who had just replaced him in Iron Maiden. He also briefly played with the band Alcatrazz, where legendary guitarists Yngwie Malmsteen and Steve Vai got their start. Burr was later diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis which left him in poor health and in debt from medical expenses. Iron Maiden responded to his misfortune with a series of charity concerts and helped found the Clive Burr MS Trust Fund.