Wednesday, July 18, 2007

25 Years Ago Today: July 18th


"I left alone, my mind was blank. I needed time to get the memories from my mind..."

July 18, 1982: The Day of Days... The day that changed everything.

Why is the date significant? Because it was on that day 25 years ago that Iron Maiden played Northern California for the first time!

Rich Hellhound and I had stumbled upon the Killers album in the import section of the Tower Records in Mt. View and we basically bought it because the cover looked cool... But then we had to wait for over a year to see Maiden because they bypassed the Bay Area on their debut U.S. Tour in 1981... An-ti-ci-pa-tion.

It seems strange here in the 21st Century, but on that July day Maiden were the opening act on a Day On The Green bill at Oakland Stadium with Foreigner / Loverboy / Scorpions in front of over 50,000 people (Foreigner had the #1 crap album in America at the time). I later read that this show and the previous one at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (featuring the same bill) were the biggest crowds Maiden had played in front of up to that point in their career. Pretty cool, right?

This was one of those shows where being a teenager made all the difference; I was excited for days (weeks!) in advance. I had only seen pictures of Maiden in magazines and on album sleeves and I had no idea what they were like in action.. Here in the 21st Century, I miss the mystique Rock bands had before MTV and the Information Superhighway took all of the mystery and imagination away from the Music Geek experience, dyaknowwhatimean?

Rich Hellhound and I left in the very, very early morning hours to stop at a 24-hour Denny's to have breakfast before driving up to Oakland... We then sat in line for probably 4 or 5 hours waiting for the gates to open at around 10:00am! Like I said, this was the type of show where being a teenager made all the difference... but we HAD to be down at the front for MAIDEN!!

As Maiden prepared to start, I was jammed down at the front with my trusty Canon AV-1... However, I could hardly move and could barely raise the camera to take pics due to the crush of the crowd. When Maiden's 'Ides Of March' intro tape started I was outta my head with excitement... and then the band stormed onstage as Steve Harris fingered the intro to 'Wrathchild' on his bass... "I was born into a scene of angriness and greed, of dominance and persecution..." Holy shit....... !!

I managed to snap a couple of pictures before I went into ballistic Metal Madness and all I wanted to do was bang my head and sing along with my heroes!! AND I DID!!

Steve Harris - Oakland Stadium (Pic by Umlaut)

Bruce Dickenson - Oakland Stadium (Pic by Umlaut)

It was one of those events that only a teenage Music Geek can appreciate; the mindnumbing bliss of seeing your Rock Star heroes onstage for the first time! Plus, it was fucking IRON MAIDEN!! From 'Wrathchild' the band charged into 'Run To The Hills' and for 45 minutes Maiden showed the non-Metal posers in the crowd that Loverboy and Foreigner were useless pussies. THEN during the set closing 'Iron Maiden', an 8-foot tall Eddie (a roadie in costume on stilts) lurched onstage to rage with the band!! So... Fucking... Metal!

Eddie - Oakland Stadium (Pic by Umlaut)

After Maiden, the Scorpions tore the stadium up all over again... and after the Germans left the stage we hung around for awhile. I bought a grey Maiden Number Of The Beast tour shirt.. but when Loverboy came onstage we headed for the exit. I still remember Loverboy's singer doing jumping jacks at the front of the stage to get the crowd to clap. On the way back to the car, we called him a fag. However, Rich Hellhound's car had been towed and his dad had to come bail our asses out. He was NOT pleased despite the fact that Rich and I had finally seen Maiden!

Steve Harris onstage in Oakland - Metal Mania #9
(From the Umlaut Archives)

Rich Hellhound attended the show with Umlaut and he remembers:

"Right before Maiden took the stage "Doctor, Doctor" by UFO was playing through the PA; I remember hearing Dave Murray playing along from offstage. I also remember they played "Phantom Of the Opera", and it was a religious experience. We were surrounded by rock and roll fans who had no idea who these crazy Brits were and they kept glancing at you and I in confusion; we knew all the words and sang along loudly while headbanging."

John Silence remembers:

"I remember that the crowd was so packed down by the front of the stage that at one point I realized that my feet weren't actually touching the ground."

Tour Manager Doug says:

"I can't remember exactly who I went with, a few friends from Cloverdale, but they were there for Loverboy and Foreigner."

DeVito recalls:

"Got up around 5:00am, got dressed and packed the gear for the day in a small backpack, plucked the ticket from the tack board above the light switch, slid the six-pack from under the hiding place bed (warm, but booze nonetheless), the stash of smokes and buds for the wait.....ran out of the house and down to the BART station to catch that first train out to the Coliseum."

"Got there and met up with a couple of the other guys, lit up our morning smokes and waited for the gates to open. Started drinking about 8:30am or so, finished up and bummed and bought more beers until the gates opened. We still couldn't believe that Iron fuckin' Maiden were actually playing! Scorps, cool...but MAIDEN!?? This was epic. I had been listening to them after my friend Jitz told me about them a year prior, got me to buy Killers, and it changed my life. Stone cold grabbed me by the ears and set me on the path....."

"The whole week prior I had been painting a giant Eddie on one of the bedsheets, making a best attempt at the Killers Eddie with large "Iron Maiden" logo across the top, and "Maiden KILLS Oakland Bangers!" across the bottom. Crappy textile paints seem to always soak through to carpet below, so there was fragments of neon orange 70's carpet stuck to the back, but I didn't care..... it added...texture."

"Just before they were going to let us inside the stadium, I pulled the banner out from the backpack, my friend Darius picked one side of it, and we proudly toted it up and down the line..... It was good for the traditional "Fuck yeah!" and "Maiden" chants, and even scored us a few cold ones from some of the more impressed alcoholics....Thanks!"

"The line started to move, I crumpled the banner back into the pack, and scooted back in line. When we got inside the stadium, we ran right onto the green and as far up as we could get.....'bout 20-30 feet from center stage. We sat for a bit, lit up a smoke and passed the bowl around, waiting for the show to start. Pretty buzzed, and definitely stoked on the whole Maiden coming to Oakland thingy, I stood up and took the banner out of my pack. I was getting ready to time it just right. The guys would hit the stage and I was going to chuck my banner right up on stage, maybe right into the hands of Bruce. He would then open it up, turn to show the crowd and the place would go nuts! Alas, it was not to be."

"Drunk and stoned, I was wobbling to and fro when they hit the stage. I panicked and blindly threw the banner up in the air so I wouldn't miss my cue. The banner went straight up in the air, opened a bit and caught just enough breeze to fly BACKWARDS about 40 or so feet into the crowd.....I thought I even heard a "gulp". Gone. Oh well...."

"I got over it quick and the band blew us all away! They were fantastic. They came out with 'Wrathchild' and we went ballistic! Then, the slew of Number Of The Beast tracks, Bruce killing with vocal feats and Steve's "foot on monitor" stance having us reliving every photo on the back of the albums that had been the only glimpse we'd had of the band. They slaughtered, faster and heavier than most anything that stage had ever seen before. Ending the set with 'Iron Maiden' and 'Drifter' (my personal fave of ALL TIME), I couldn't believe it! When they left the stage, you could tell...... There was this sense that all of us who were there only for Maiden (and Scorps too, but not as much....) had all our feelings of loyalty and support for the band immediately justified to all.. Especially to those who had the audacity to arrive "casually late" to the show. Maiden crushed."

"Scorps came out and ran the gamut, always a clean, tight, excellent show. Little 'Zoo', little 'Blackout', little German pyramid.....everyone loved it. But then the moment. The unspoken, unplanned, almost boycott style exodus...... Scorps leave the stage, and so DOES HALF THE FUCKIN' STADIUM!!!! Heshers, Metalheads, Earthdogs, Rivetheads and Thrashers alike, in unison, leave the field like victorious warriors leaving the wounded foe to bleed out on the was epic. Fuck Foreigner, and DEFINITELY fuck Loverboy......p.u.! They suck!"

"I bought the black Number Of The Beast shirt, and my friend Darius bought the camo sleeved "Beast on the Road" 3/4 sleeve jersey...... a choice I regret not making to this day......"

DeVito's original shirt from 7/18/82

Loren flashes back:

"I was there, and if it was the 18th of July, 1982 then I was 12! My 13th birthday wasn't until July 29th."

"Maiden was great but the set was short and at 12 years old I was already a Paul Dianno fan ... think they must have done "Wrathchild" and maybe "Killers" or the theme song with the rest coming from the new LP."

"Scorps were fucking AMAZING and left a bigger impression on me than Maiden, glad I saw them before they took off for planet suckass! I stuck around for the whole thing as big concerts were fascinating to me at the time and I dug staying out late, looking at chicks in spandex or those jeans that have laces up the crotch. Too bad the next 2 bands were Loverboy (I knew they were cheesy but I only realized later how literally gay they were) and Foreigner, who were so completely boring and lifeless - worse than the Cars (my first big rock show in 1980!)"

"I went home on BART which was full to the brim with scary rockers."

Timo adds:

Steve and Dave from the FRONT ROW! (Pic by Timo)

Bruce from the FRONT ROW! (Pic by Timo)

Adrian and Steve from the FRONT ROW! (Pic by Timo)

Eddie and Bruce from the FRONT ROW! (Pic by Timo)

Umlaut's epilogue:

A really crappy sounding bootleg exists of the July 18, 1982 show that at least memorializes the setlist:
  • Wrathchild
  • Run To The Hills
  • The Number Of The Beast
  • 22 Acacia Avenue
  • Hallowed Be Thy Name
  • Iron Maiden
  • Drifter
I can tell you the exact moment when my teenage skull exploded that afternoon: During the last 1/4 of 'Hallowed Be Thy Name' when Adrian Smith and Dave Murray went into their climatic breathtaking duel axe harmonies that bring the song to its conclusion. Splat went my noggin'... brains, bone, skin, and hair everywhere. METAL. "Scream for me Oakland!! Scream for me!!!"

THANKS to the members of the Umlaut Nation who shared their July 18, 1982 memories! Magical, innit? Since I trip on this kinda shit, I believe that long ago afternoon in 1982 started me down the path that led me to where I find myself today; those who know me can appreciate why it's, like, a mindfuck... If you had told me 25 years ago that I would be, etc. etc... Mark D. knows what I'm talkin' 'bout... and it ain't love.

To paraphrase Maiden: "Some say it shouldn't matter, ain't nothing gonna alter the course of my destination..... 'Cos I'm Wrathchild.."


Run To The Hills 1982 UK Tour 7" Single (From the Umlaut Archives)

For some entertaining follow-up on this subject visit the Earth-Dog Forum.

Brad explores his archives:

"I found my old t-shirts, including the already mentioned camo sleeved Number Of The Beast tour shirt. Check out the countries.. Yugoslavia!! It doesn't exist anymore having fractured into its six (soon to be seven) constituent states."

Brad's original shirt from 7/18/82

"July 18, 1982 was my first big rock concert ever. My sister and her boyfriend took me in her big 1971 brown Oldsmobile. I remember it was overcast in the morning on through Maiden's set. The stacks were so loud even from the upper deck opposite the stage that I could hear a sound like when you hold a sea shell up to your ear in them for 3 days or so. No earplugs back then."

"I had bought Blackout just two months earlier for $5.99 at the Rainbow Records at Hillsdale mall. Number of the Beast was accquired soon after. The road to damnation continues to this day."

Craig Ruffians remembers:

"First off we could not believe how lame it was that Loverboy and Foreigner were on the same bill as Maiden & Scorps. There was no reasoning with teenagers at that time. I did see Foreigner at the Oakland Arena on their "Double Vision Tour" back in '80 (?) pre Jukebox Hero... They used to be good."

"The night before we hear the band was staying at the now defunct Hilton across the Highway. We get to the lobby and ask the receptionist what room Bruce Dickinson (Bruce Bruce!) was in...... Yeah right! "I'm sorry we do not have a Bruce Dickinson staying with us". I say, "We'll what about Bruce, Bruce?".... "Sorry gentlemen.". We then hang in the wings of the lobby to figure out our next move. I was with my good friends Jell & Kent."

"Anyway, we hear a girl and guy talking (fellow metal geeks) like they had met the lead singer and we asked what room number he was in; they gave us the room number. It was a long time ago (25 years) but it went down something like this:

The 3 of us go to that room number and nervously knock on the door. Low and behold "Bruce Bruce" answers the door. We say something to the effect of "I can't believe you guys are here and playing tomorrow". He looks at us like we are insane and then I ask "What song are you opening with?" He says "Wrathchild". We all smile and then are at a loss for more words. Bruce then gives us a smirk and says, "See you lads tomorrow".

We walk down the hall feelin' like total goofs as we look at each other and say "Killer"!"

Bruce onstage in Oakland (From the Craig Ruffians Archives)

"Next day - See Maiden & Scorps by wedging about 20 rows back and get lucky enough to have my sis get us backstage. I end up meeting both bands..... however the night before I was taking no chances."

"Never saw a lick of Loverboy or Foreigner. I didn't want to be "high wrecked"!"