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/PANO 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 McKayBarry 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.”

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