Tony Moore played keyboards for Iron Maiden at one show in 1977: Now he's back on the road with Steve Harris

British Lion by Bristol Harbour and Tony Moore onstage
(Image credit: British Lion: John McMurtrie | Tony Moore: Tony Moore)

As Iron Maiden bassist Steve Harris’s ‘other’ band British Lion prepare for a lengthy UK tour throughout January, with support from Iron Maiden’s short-lived keyboard player Tony Moore and his praised ‘one-man show’, Classic Rock talked to Harris and his former bandmate.


Are the two of you in regular contact? 

Steve Harris: Yeah. We drifted apart for a while, but Tony and I have been friends again for a few years now. It’s been nice. 

Tony Moore: Steve hasn’t changed at all during that time. 

Harris [Chuckling] Except I’ve got three chins now. 

Moore: But seriously, ours is a rare friendship. 

Steve, presumably you have seen Tony’s one-man show? 

Harris: Yeah, of course. I saw it at the Camden Club in Chalk Farm [in North London], and then again at the Cart And Horses [East London]. His show blew me away. That second time, I took Simon [Dawson], the drummer of British Lion, and he loved it too. The music is kind of proggy, which I love, and if Tony could play guitar back then the way he does now he’d probably still be in the band [both laugh]. But Tony was on keyboards and rhythm guitar.

Moore’s time in Maiden was a solitary gig, at the Bridge House in East London back in 1977. 

Moore: Afterwards it was obvious that things weren’t going to work out. Maiden did use keyboards later on, but it was very subtle. 

Harris: They wouldn’t have been subtle if you were playing them! Tony was trying to shoehorn keyboard parts into a song like Wrathchild and they just didn’t fit. I always wanted the twin-guitar thing in Maiden, and he was more of a rhythm guitarist.

Moore: For me, those were such formative but influential times. When I arrived in London from Bristol to join Maiden, I had never even been in a rehearsal studio before.

British Lion onstage in Tampere, Finland

British Lion onstage in Tampere, Finland (Image credit: John McMurtrie)

So Tony, what’s the story of the album, Awake, that supplies the thread of your show? 

Moore: In early 2021 I came up with the title song that felt like the opening track of a concept album, which is what it became. It was inspired by three things: the madness of covid, looking after my mum after she developed dementia, and my life as a whole. As Awake took shape, Steve provided an important sounding board; he’d come back and say: “That’s brilliant, but you can make the chorus a bit bigger.” 

Harris: As Tony said, I heard the tracks as he recorded them. I could be brutal if necessary. Because he was driving himself crazy writing it in his mum’s shed, I said: “That must be a song title.” 

Moore: So I wrote Crazy In The Shed… 

Harris: …And it’s probably the album’s most commercial song. 

Moore: I’m still tweaking Awake, but it will be available some time in 2024. 

On stage it’s just you, Tony, on guitar, keyboards and vocals, plus projections to enhance the music. It sounds like it must be quite tricky to pull off. 

Moore: Yes and no, actually. I spent so much time making Awake that even if it became the biggest-selling album on the planet, the hours I invested would never be repaid. But I’ve worked out how to use the available technology to make it run fairly efficiently with the help of an engineer. I’m roadie, driver and artist, which is very tiring, but this is the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done. 

Harris: Our audience might be a little tough for Tony, I don’t know. But he’ll be playing for a few more people. For me, selfishly, I get to hear his songs every night. 

After Maiden, Tony joined Cutting Crew, and performed a song that narrowly failed to represent the UK at Eurovision. 

Moore [interrupting]: That happened a couple of times, but I don’t like to talk about it [laughs]. 

Among other things, you also became a club manager, promoter and radio presenter. 

Moore: My life has been amazing, because I’ve done the things I’ve always loved.

Tony Moore and Steve Harris take a selfie outside the Cart & Horses pub

Tony Moore and Steve Harris take a selfie outside the Cart & Horses pub, London (Image credit: Tony Moore)

Steve, this is a fairly extensive tour for British Lion – sixteen dates up and down the country. 

Harris: It’s eighteen dates now. We’ve added a couple more at the Cart And Horses – an extra one at the start [January 3] and another at the end [January 24]. There’s only four days off during our window, so I checked with Richard [Taylor, singer] whether he was alright with that and he replied: “Just do it.” I suppose we’ll see whether that’s a mistake or not. 

What is it that makes you so keen to play these smaller venues, at a time in your career when it would be much, much easier to remain at home planning the next batch of enormodomes with Iron Maiden? 

Harris: I’m very, very lucky that I get to do both. It’s fantastic to see the whites of people’s eyes again. I really miss that. At some of the bigger gigs it’s frustrating. With Maiden we build these catwalks out in the audience but we’re still so far away. At a couple of festivals I tried to throw my wristband out and still couldn’t reach anybody. It’s bloody ridiculous. 

What do the other Iron Maiden guys think about you doing British Lion? 

Harris: I don’t really know. Adrian [Smith, guitarist] came on the last tour and stayed till the end. I know that Davey [Murray, guitarist] doesn’t have a problem with it. Nicko [McBrain, drums] came to see us on the previous tour. Bruce [Dickinson, singer] has seen us. The only one that hasn’t is Janick [Gers, guitarist], and I’ve never spoken to him about it. But if he did have a problem… well, that’s tough! Naah, I’m kidding. They all know that it makes no difference whatsoever to Maiden. If anything, it helps me get match-fit for Maiden. 

Talking of Maiden guys’ extra-curricular activity, have you heard Bruce’s album, The Mandrake Project

Harris: Not yet, no. A few days ago he brought in the vinyl single [Afterglow Of Ragnarock] to show the artwork, but I haven’t heard any of the actual music. 

We’ve mentioned the Cart And Horses pub in Stratford, East London, the venue of a Maiden residency in 1976. These days the place is something of a museum to the band, with a newly built concert space in the basement. Does it make you feel strange whenever you walk into the place? 

Harris: Not really. The place is a landmark in our origins; there are obsessive fans that do ‘the tour’ of the local area – they visit Leytonstone where I was born, also the Ruskin Arms where we played some of the most important formative gigs. That means a lot to some people, which I suppose is lovely. It keeps the early history of the band alive. 

British Lion’s UK tour is underway. Tickets are on sale now

Dave Ling

Dave Ling was a co-founder of Classic Rock magazine. His words have appeared in a variety of music publications, including RAW, Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Prog, Rock Candy, Fireworks and Sounds. Dave’s life was shaped in 1974 through the purchase of a copy of Sweet’s album ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’, along with early gig experiences from Status Quo, Rush, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Yes and Queen. As a lifelong season ticket holder of Crystal Palace FC, he is completely incapable of uttering the word ‘Br***ton’.