Hampstead rock agent takes Iron Maiden band members back to court over ‘copied’ songs

Barry McKay

Barry McKay - Credit: Archant

A Hampstead rock agent has taken two members of Iron Maiden back to court over claims they’ve copied lyrics for some of their songs.

Iron Maiden performing on the Main Stage at the Reading Festival, Sunday 28 August 2005. Photo. Yui

Iron Maiden performing on the Main Stage at the Reading Festival, Sunday 28 August 2005. Photo. Yui Mok/PA - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Months after the world famous heavy metal band settled out-of-court, Barry McKay has launched new high court proceedings against David Murray and Steve Harris over the lyrics of the songs Prowler, Charlotte the Harlot, Phantom of the Opera, Iron Maiden and Prodigal Son.

He’s hoping to get £2million for the man he claims wrote the lyrics, former Iron Maiden singer Dennis Willcock.

In court papers seen by this newspaper, the collection of songs are referred to as the Willcock Works.

Mr McKay also claims Mr Willcock wrote a new section to the song Iron Maiden, and co-wrote Prodigal Son alongside Mr Harris.

Mr Willock was a member of Iron Maiden from 1976 to 1978.

Mr McKay claims that during this time, the former Iron Maiden singer wrote the lyrics that were later taken on by the band, and included in further albums.

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Currently Mr Harris and band member Mr Murray take credit for writing the words to the tracks.

Mr Willcock, who left the music scene in 1980, wasn’t aware the songs were being performed by the band until 2014.

Unlike when the legal action took place over Hallowed Be Thy Name, none of the songs involved in this legal battle will be taken off the band’s live set lists.

Barry was previously described as a “serial litigant” by Iron Maiden, after they settled out-of-court with him in March over Hallowed Be Thy Name.

At the time Mr McKay claimed part of the hit had been written previously by Brian Quinn and Robert Barton, from little-known band Beckett.

Iron Maiden paid out a six-figure sum over the song, but didn’t accept that Mr Quinn had written the six lines in Hallowed Be Thy Name that the action was launched over.

A spokesman for Iron Maiden said: “This is outrageous. Absolutely ridiculous.”

Mr McKay said: “Dennis Willcock was originally a prolific lyricist for Iron Maiden and then for V1, composing lyrics and titles to all of their songs, before he gave up the music business. Dennis then enjoyed a successful career in an entirely different field and he never looked back.

“It was not until 2014 that Dennis first appeared on social media, only to receive an avalanche of messages from heritage fans. Some of these fans knew Dennis had written the early lyrics and wondered why he had not been credited. Others presumed Dennis must have passed away as he had never been heard of for decades.

“Dave Murray owes a debt of gratitude to Dennis Willcock, who brought him into Iron Maiden in the first place. He certainly owes it to Dennis to now come clean, even if it goes against management policy.”