Guitarist Dave Murray is one of only two musicians who have performed on every album released by British heavy metal veterans Iron Maiden, the other being the band's bassist, founder, and guiding force, Steve Harris. Throughout that span, Murray has gained fame as both a highly skilled guitar technician on-stage and a rather shy, self-effacing personality off-stage. And while his songwriting contributions to the group's lengthy canon have been modest at best, it's downright impossible to imagine Iron Maiden existing without Dave Murray.
David Michael Murray was born in London, on December 23, 1956, and grew up on the move, shuttling across the greater London area and studying in, by his count, over a dozen schools, while his disabled father and part-time cleaner mother tried to eke out a living as best they could. At age 15, Murray heard Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile" on the radio and he gave up his original dreams of playing professional football or cricket (despite showing great athletic promise, his itinerant lifestyle had made it impossible for him to latch on to any particular team) to take up the guitar, leaving school behind permanently the following year in order to practice obsessively. There followed a succession of short-lived amateur bands, including Electric Gas, Legend, the Stuff, Evil Ways, and, most significantly, Stone Free, which was his first serious ensemble and featured another guitarist and close friend named Adrian Smith, who would cross his path again soon enough. In mid-1976, Murray was invited by another friend, vocalist Dennis Wilcock, to join a fledgling Iron Maiden, which had been formed by singularly driven bassist Steve Harris only months earlier, on Christmas Day, 1975. And, notwithstanding a brief sojourn in which he reunited with Adrian Smith in his new band, Urchin, Murray would remain at Harris' side throughout Maiden's dues-paying years, weathering numerous lineup changes all the way through to the group's well-deserved signing to major label EMI.
From that point onwards, starting with the band's landmark eponymous debut of 1980, Iron Maiden's rise could not be stopped, and Murray inevitably became one of its most recognizable faces due to the continuing musician turnover that afflicted the band's early years (Adrian Smith arrived in time for 1981's sophomore Killers; definitive vocalist Bruce Dickinson for 1982's The Number of the Beast, etc.), not to mention his obvious six-string talents. In particular, the guitarist came to be recognized for the high-speed dexterity of his solos, fluid legato technique, and telepathic rhythm work in tandem with old friend Smith, all while invariably armed with a trusty black-and-white Fender Stratocaster as his trademark axe. Furthermore, though he's been content to leave the bulk of Maiden's songwriting duties in the capable hands of Harris, Smith, and Dickinson, Murray's dozen-plus credits with the group include notable fare like the band's "Charlotte the Harlot," Seventh Son of a Seventh Son's "Prophecy," Fear of the Dark's "Judas Be My Guide," and The Final Frontier's "The Man Who Would Be King."