Fresh war of words opens between Iron Maiden and Hampstead rock agent after court settlement

Barry McKay

Barry McKay - Credit: Archant

A Iron Maiden spokesman has labelled Barry McKay as a “serial litigator”, while McKay hit back saying the band’s representatives were bitter after a dispute over Hallowed Be Thy Name.

A war of words has opened up between legendary heavy metal band Iron Maiden and a Hampstead music agent, with a spokesman for the band labelling Barry McKay as a “serial litigator”.

In response McKay has said Iron Maiden are bitter and have “profiteered” from lyrics other musicians have written.

The Ham&High reported yesterday that Iron Maiden’s Steve Harris and Dave Murray have settled out-of-court with McKay, Brian Quinn and Robert Barton over similarities between the Iron Maiden song Hallowed Be Thy Name, and a song recorded 10 years earlier, Life’s Shadow, by Beckett.

In defence papers submitted by lawyers representing Mr Harris and Mr Murray, they admitted Mr Harris had bought the 1974 self-titled album by Beckett, and he had seen the group perform around the same time.

At the time of the album release, Beckett was managed by Rod Smallwood. He went on to be the manager of Iron Maiden when they released Hallowed Be Thy Name in 1982.

The fresh dispute erupted over the figure reportedly paid in damages and costs. It was initially believed Mr Harris and Mr Murray would be paying around £900,000.

However a spokesman for Iron Maiden then insisted the true figure was much lower, around £550,000.

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An Iron Maiden spokesman then blasted Mr McKay as a “serial litigator.”

Their spokesman 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.”

However, Mr McKay hit back at their claims, suggesting Iron Maiden were bitter having settled out of court.

He said: “To call me a ‘serial litigant’ is sour grapes.

“Taking lyrics and music from the Barton and Quinn song Life’s Shadow has definitely ended up costing Harris and Dave Murray £900,000 in combined damages and costs, paid to Barton and to Quinn and to their respective lawyers.

“If the managers of Iron Maiden had provided accurate earnings figures for the two Maiden songs that infringed the Life’s Shadow copyright at the very start of the claim and then offered Brian Quinn a fair settlement, Steve Harris and Dave Murray could have saved themselves around £600,000 in legal costs. Instead they wanted a fight and so they got one.

“Brian Quinn did not settle for ‘a fraction’ of his claim. Our claim form lodged with the High Court stated that we were claiming a minimum figure of £200,000. Instead Harris and Murray instructed lawyers to fight Brian Quinn who went on to cost them £300,000, as well as having to pay for every penny of my legal costs, which were £285,000.

“On top of that, their plagiarism of Life’s Shadow had already [cost them] £220,000 in damages and costs when they settled with the other co-writer of Life’s Shadow Bob Barton.”

He added: “Musicians who have their intellectual property exploited by others who did not write or compose it are entitled to professional assistance.

“I find it sickening to have to take very wealthy musicians to court for plagiarising the musical works of musicians who cannot afford to take on the might of Iron Maiden.”