Iron Maiden settle out-of-court with Hampstead rock agent over ‘copied’ song

PUBLISHED: 13:53 12 March 2018 | UPDATED: 07:39 13 March 2018

Barry McKay

Barry McKay


The heavy metal rock band will pay more than half a million pounds in legal costs and damages.

World famous heavy metal rock band Iron Maiden have paid a six figure sum over claims they copied lyrics and music for one of their songs, after a legal battle in the High Courts brought by a Hampstead rock agent.

Barry McKay, 63, brought the claim against Iron Maiden bassist Steve Harris, and guitarist Dave Murray after he claimed part of their 1982 song Hallowed Be Thy Name took its lyrics and music from 1973 song Life’s Shadow by a little known band, Beckett.

Mr McKay previously managed Lindisfarne, famous for their 1971 song Fog on the Tyne. He later managed Robert Barton, who helped write Life’s Shadow.

The song was thought up and written between Brian Quinn, and Mr Barton. Mr Barton went on to join Beckett and use the song in their self-titled 1974 album. They agreed to jointly share credit for it on the album.

NO MERCHANDISING: NO MERCHANDISING: Iron Maiden performing on the Main Stage at the Reading Festival, Sunday 28 August 2005. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA NO MERCHANDISING: NO MERCHANDISING: Iron Maiden performing on the Main Stage at the Reading Festival, Sunday 28 August 2005. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA

At the time Beckett was managed by Rod Smallwood. He went on to be the manager of Iron Maiden when they released Hallowed Be Thy Name.

In his defence against the claim at the High Court, Mr Harris’ lawyers admitted he saw Beckett perform in 1973.

They also said he bought Beckett in 1974 when it was released, and was one of his favourite albums at the time.

However he stated the song lyrics were initially used to fill space, and they had planned to change them at a later date.

Barry McKay Barry McKay

However there was not time to change them, and they were used in the single. He had hoped the writers would be flattered, and did not believe it couldn’t be used without permission.

Lawyers for Mr Harris and Mr Murray also admitted parts of Iron Maiden’s 2000 song The Nomad are “substantially similar” to parts of Life’s Shadow.

There is a dispute over how much is owed after the case has been settled. Mr McKay has said Mr Harris and Mr Murray are due to pay £900,000 in costs and damages.

However a source close to the Iron Maiden duo has said the true figure is far lower, and around £550,000.

The settlement means there will be no trial, which was scheduled for later this year.

Iron Maiden can now use the song in their live tours. It had been pulled from their set when legal action was taken.

A spokesman for Iron Maiden said: An Iron Maiden spokesperson said : “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 litigator like Mr McKay would have foreseen this.”

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

Yesterday, 17:15

Hampstead voted overwhelmingly to adopts its neighbourbood plan in a referendum yesterday.

Disability campaigner, Olympic torchbearer and Shepherd’s Hill resident Pamela Moffatt has died at the age of 80.

Yesterday, 15:54

Teddy bears will be cascading down from St James’ Church once again on Saturday, as part of the fourth annual Midsummer Muswell festival.

Yesterday, 12:47

Three young men have been charged in relation to two moped smash and grabs after police executed search warrants across Islington, Camden and Haringey.

Yesterday, 12:22

A Muswell Hill woman is living on borrowed time after being diagnosed with the deadly mesothelioma “asbestos disease” caused by hugging her dad as a toddler when he came home each night from working in the docks in the 1960s.

Yesterday, 10:55

The London Irish Centre has received a welcome funding boost after Ed Sheeran and Dermot O’Leary helped them rake in £250,000 on Wednesday night.

Thu, 17:57

George Michael superfans are preparing to celebrate his life at two events on Sunday, ahead of what would have been the pop icon’s 55th birthday.

Thu, 17:28

Workers have reportedly been living on a construction site in Abercorn Estate in St John’s Wood.


Londoners seeking high quality houses for sale within easy commuting distance of the capital are being advised to look north to St Albans’ prestigious Gabriel Square development.

Preparing your child in advance for school will go a long way towards ensuring the very best start for your child.

After over 50 years in the acting industry, and a decade of unprecedented success delivering outstanding part-time performing arts tuition at her weekend Academies across the country, Pauline Quirke returns to her roots to create even more opportunities for young performers in North London.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now