Despite embarking on massive tours in support of their latest effort, 2015’s The Book of Souls, Iron Maiden have been going through a year long lawsuit battle. It was roughly this time last year when the band were hit with an alleged copyright infringement claim against them on their classic hit “Hallowed Be Thy Name” as well as “The Nomad.” The action was initially brought by Barry McKay and Brian Quinn against bassist Steve Harris and guitarist Dave Murray, which involved the song “Life’s Shadow,” a track written in the 1970s, credited by Robert Barton and Brian Ingham, and recorded by the band Beckett. The case states that the band took two verses of lyrics from this track and placed on “Hallowed Be Thy Name,” as well as taking a passage on “The Nomad.”

The case was on its way to the High Court this year, which included the four defendants – Harris, Murray, as well as Robert Barton and publishing company Imagem London Ltd, which were all being sued for “unspecified damages over £200,000 for alleged copyright breaches.”

Barton, one of the co-writers of “Life’s Shadow,” was previously paid off by Steve Harris by a secret settlement, which has cost the defendants £200,000 for legal and damage fees. However, during this time, co-writer Quinn knew nothing about the settlement, didn’t receive a penny as he wrote the lyrics and the guitar solo to the song.

Following these claims, the case has been settled in full with a total cost of £900,000. The fees have also helped avoid the band going through trial as well as, having permission to use the songs without any further claims against them. While this settlement is currently in the clear, McKay is currently looking into further claims to follow, which he is involved with regarding more Iron Maiden tunes. 

Maiden, for their part, issued a statement claiming innocence, but said it’d be cheaper and easier to settle: 

“We do not believe that Brian Quinn was the one who wrote these six lines in question over 40 years ago as was claimed by Barry McKay. However due to escalating legal fees and the potential huge costs of a court case it was pragmatic to reluctantly settle this action with McKay for £100,000, a fraction of what he brought the action for. A serial litigant like Mr McKay would have forseen this.” – Iron Maiden Spokesperson

It’s questionable as to what the other £800,000 is, unless that was what court costs were, but i n the meantime, we can expect to hear the famous song “Hallowed Be Thy Name,” on their Legacy of the Beast tour.

McKay stated the following about the year-long case:

“Back in 1981, Steve Harris intentionally copied two verses of lyrics, which he lifted word for word, from 1970s band Beckett’s album, for the definitive Iron Maiden song, ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’. Steve Harris claimed the lyrics as all his own work and since 1982 has solely profited from the substantial publishing income which totalled circa £2m. The lyrics taken from the track ‘Life’s Shadow’ which was on Beckett’s eponymous LP, were written by musician Brian Quinn.

Iron Maiden’s management failed to produce any accurate earnings figures until both parties had already spent well over half a million pounds on legal costs. Once the lower than expected figures had been examined, both parties agreed to settle the claim. The defendants (Steve Harris and Dave Murray) have paid all of the Plaintiff’s considerable legal costs as well as their own legal costs and six figure damages.

This entire matter, brought about by obvious copyright theft has cost Harris and Murray a total of £900,000 in damages and legal costs, for lifting two verses of lyrics, verbatim, for ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’ as well as copying music which they used in the Iron Maiden song ‘The Nomad’, which appeared on Iron Maiden’s ‘Brave New World’ album, released in 2000, eighteen years after the release of ‘The Number Of The Beast’ album which contained ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’.”

Read the full Press Release below:

LEGAL ACTION SETTLED… at a final cost to Steve Harris and Dave Murray of $1.25m USD (£900,000 sterling)

This is to announce that bassist and band leader Steve Harris along with guitarist Dave Murray, who were Defendants in the IRON MAIDEN plagiarism legal action (see papers attached), have settled the damages claim, issued in February 2017, by former LINDISFARNE manager Barry McKay. Iron Maiden now have permission to use the previously misappropriated works without further dispute. This settlement avoids a trial of the action for Steve Harris and Dave Murray as well as the other two Defendants, which would have taken place during 2018.

Barry McKay said today, “Back in 1981, Steve Harris intentionally copied two verses of lyrics, which he lifted word-for-word, from 1970’s band BECKETT’s album, for the definitive IRON MAIDEN song,Hallowed Be Thy Name. Steve Harris claimed the lyrics as all his own work and since 1982 he solely profiting from the substantial publishing income which totalled circa £2m. The lyrics taken from the track “Life’s Shadow” which was on BECKETT’S eponymous LP, were in fact written by musician Brian Quinn aka Brian Ingham” (photo attached of Brian Quinn with guitar). When Brian Quinn, who had emigrated to Canada in the 1970’s, first discovered thanks to information provided by his old friend from teenage years Barry McKay (with whom he had played in a band back in the 1960’s) that Barton had falsely claimed to have written his lyrics and had been secretly paid off, Quinn was understandably upset.

“Iron Maiden’s management failed to produce any accurate earnings figures for the two songs which contained stolen lyrics and music until both parties had already spent well over half a million pounds on legal costs.  Once the lower than expected figures had been examined, both parties agreed to settle the claim. The Defendants (Steve Harris and Dave Murray) have paid all of the Plaintiffs considerable legal costs as well as their own legal costs and six figure damages.”

“This entire matter, brought about by copyright theft, has cost Harris and Murray a total of £900,000 in damages and legal costs…for lifting two verses of lyrics, verbatim, for Hallowed Be Thy Nameas well as copying music which they used in the Iron Maiden song, THE NOMAD which appeared on Iron Maiden’s BRAVE NEW WORLD album, released in 2000, 18 years after the release of THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST album which contained Hallowed Be Thy Name. The legal action, which commenced after the start of IRON MAIDEN’S 2017 World Tour, also caused Iron Maiden to drop the popular Hallowed Be Thy Name song from their set, mid-tour. They are now able to add Hallowed Be Thy Name back into their set for their 2018 European tour which starts in May 2018, without further risk of injunction, on that particular song.”

Barry McKay commented today on Steve Harris’s Defence which was filed with the court (see attached) and is therefore public domain:-

“Certain members of IRON MAIDEN and those representing them have astonished me by the risks they took in exploiting the works of other writers without acknowledging them or crediting them and in so doing, they personally profited while at the same time deceiving Iron Maiden fans. Steve Harris’s Defence filed with the Chancery Division of the High Court (see attached and below) was a shambles and my only regret on settling this case is that Harris has avoided being questioned under oath in the witness box, on not only this particular matter but also as to the authorship of numerous Iron Maiden songs.”

“In paragraph 13 of the Defence Harris admitted that ‘the lyrics of ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’ reproduce a substantial part of the lyrics of ‘Life’s Shadow”, however, Harris’s lame excuse for this was that he composed the lyrics for ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’ while recording the album in early 1982, only using the words from ‘Life’s Shadow’ as ‘guide lyrics’ and intending to replace them before the final recording.”

“It is then claimed by Harris that producer Martin Birch and Iron Maiden managers Rod Smallwood and Andy Taylor told him that they did not have time to re-record the vocals prior to the beginning of the tour.” McKay explained, “ This excuse is untrue because Harris could not have written the lyrics in 1982 while in the studio because Iron Maiden performed the song live during at least one gig in 1981 with the lyrics as they are now and always have been.”

“Paragraph 21 of the Defence is remarkable as this shows that Steve Harris as well as his managers, Rod Smallwood and Andy Taylor, who founded the Sanctuary Group which encompassed music publishing, did not bother crediting the writers of the BECKETT album track Life’s Shadow. Instead they allowed Steve Harris to take all of the credit. This is even more astonishing given the fact that Rod Smallwood had previously been Beckett’s agent prior to managing Iron Maiden, attending gigs, and that Life’s Shadow was Beckett’s best album track which they performed on stage using a sword as a stage prop.”

Barry McKay added, “Clearly Steve Harris was highly influenced by Life’s Shadow when he wrote Hallowed Be Thy Name.” Harris was a known Beckett fan who also owned the album (which had the lyrics printed on the inner sleeve) as well as regularly attending Beckett gigs as a teenager”

“In Paragraph 22 of Steve Harris’s Defence, Harris ludicrously claims that he thought he did not need permission to use Life’s Shadow lyrics. This contradicts what he claimed in paragraph 13 as referred to above. Harris then states that he had ‘PREVIOUSLY used wording from the Coleridge poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (for the IRON MAIDEN track of the same name) without objection.’ The Iron Maiden song, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner was actually first recorded and released in 1984, TWO YEARS after Hallowed Be Thy Name was recorded in 1982, on Iron Maiden’s POWERSLAVE album. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge was written in 1797–98 and published in 1798. Copyright on the original work expired in 1905 which means that no permission was needed to copy the original Coleridge poem and so of course there were no objections, two years after Harris had already stolen lyrics from the BECKETT album.”

McKay added, “In Paragraph 37 it is claimed that none of the music of Life’s Shadow was copied when writing the music of The Nomad (a song on the 2000 released BRAVE NEW WORLD album). It is claimed that any similarities are the result of coincidence. This is simply not believable, especially given Harris was such a major Beckett fan and the musical section halfway through both songs are almost identical.”

“In Paragraph 16 it is stated that THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST album was written by Harris under significant time pressure in January and February 1982. This is incorrect because Harris did not write the entire album in that two-month period, far from it: 1) Live recordings exist of both the tracks Hallowed Be Thy Name and The Prisoner performed the previous year, in 1981; 2) Invaders which is another album track, is a re-hash of an old Iron Maiden song called Invasion; 3) According to Bruce Dickinson, he also made a significant contribution to the songwriting of that album but was unable to be credited for contractual reasons; 4) 22 Acacia Avenue, yet another track from the album, was originally an Urchin song called Countdown”

“This entire legal action mainly related to and stemmed from Steve Harris’s dishonest actions. The Defence excuses numbered 16 to 23 were quite ridiculous however point 21 revealed that Rod Smallwood who is an experienced manager, knew about this copyright theft and yet he did nothing to stop it. As former manager of various musicians including LINDISFARNE and the late Alan Hull, during that very same period, I would never have sat back and condoned such behaviour…nor would Alan Hull or Lindisfarne or anyone I have ever worked with have ever stolen music or lyrics from other songwriters and in so doing, cheat them and deprive them of their rightful song-writing credits. This begged the inference that Rod Smallwood, (an experienced rock band manager) and Steve Harris had made a deliberate decision to defraud.”

(1)  “Hallowed Be Thy Name” isn’t just an Iron Maiden song.  It’s the song that has defined the band and put them on the map in 1982.  It’s the Band’s favourite song and the fan’s favourite song.

(2)  The song is heavily influenced by “Life’s Shadow” but in particular 2 verses from Life’s Shadow had been lifted, word-for-word (along with a line from another Becket song).

(3)  Brian Ingham (Quinn) was cheated by co-credited writer Bob Barton (a) when Barton claimed a writing credit based on immaterial changes which certainly did not improve the original; (b) when Bob Barton claimed a 50% share of royalties for himself when he registered the song with PRS in the 1970s without reference to Brian; (c) when Bob Barton increased his claim to 75% share of royalties for himself in 2011 (after discovering that Iron Maiden had used Brian Quinn’s lyrics and music) when he re-registered the song with PRS without reference to Brian Quinn; and (d) when Barton secretly settled his claim against Iron Maiden without reference to Brian Quinn in 2012 – having falsely claimed to have written ALL of the lyrics.

(4)  Brian Quinn was cheated by the Iron Maiden parties – particularly Steve Harris and Rod Smallwood – (a) when they copied the lyrics and music in 1982 without crediting Barton and Quinn (b) when they secretly settled with Barton in 2012 without reference to Brian Quinn  

Barry McKay added, “Steve Harris’s Defence would be very funny if it was not such a serious matter involving the deliberate concealment of the identity of composers as well as the deceiving of fans as to who really wrote or co-wrote Iron Maiden material.”

Robert Barton and Brian Quinn were jointly credited with the copyright for Life’s Shadow on the Beckett LP

The Iron Maiden parties secretly settled with Bob Barton but they made no attempt to contact Brian Quinn. They gambled on never having to defend a future claim from Brian Quinn, having not previously heard from him with a complaint, and lost. Where 2 individual’s rights have been infringed you obviously can’t settle both claims by only secretly dealing with one of them. This begs the inference that Steve Harris wished to keep it the secret deal hidden, not only from fans but from Brian Quinn.”

Claimant: Barry McKay (on behalf of musician Brian Quinn)


Steve Harris stated, in the TV/DVD documentary Classic Albums: Iron Maiden – The Number of the Beast released on 26 November 2001 and directed by Tim Kirkby, featuring extended interviews with Steve Harris and the song Hallowed Be Thy Name that  “If I’m writing a song and if it’s, if it’s just got my name on it then I’ve written everything, you know, except the guitar solos.”

Sixteen years later, in a May 2017 interview with Seymour Duncan Steve Harris made similar false claims.

Question from Seymour Duncan:-  

“As Iron Maiden’s chief songwriter, what form are the songs in when you present them to the rest of the band?”

Reply from Steve Harris:-

“If you see a credit with just my name on it, that means I write absolutely everything. Rhythm guitar parts, guitar melodies, vocal melodies, absolutely everything really. The only thing I don’t write is the guitar solos but even then I might suggest one or two things.”

Barry McKay today revealed that even before this claim was settled, he was already speaking with Iron Maiden’s management about a number of other claims against Steve Harris in which he is involved, concerning more of IRON MAIDEN’s music and lyrics that allegedly should have been credited to others. “Steve Harris and Dave Murray have been deceiving Iron Maiden fans for decades as to what they say they have written. I definitely expect further claims to follow” said McKay.

Photos attached: Brian Quinn (with guitar) the writer of Life’s Shadow and Barry McKay pictured 1) at Sun recording studios in Memphis and 2) wearing orange glasses (London March 2018)”

[via MetalTalk]