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Iron Maiden Forced to Drop “Hallowed Be Thy Name” from Their Setlist as the Result of a Legal Dispute

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According to Metal Insider, “Hallowed Be Thy Name” is Iron Maiden’s “third most-performed song of their career.” I’m not sure where that figure came from, but I don’t find it hard to believe; the track appears on 1982’s Number of the Beast, a.k.a. The First Album to Feature Bruce Dickinson, so, yeah, they’ve played it a LOT over the years.

Alas, for the time being, the song won’t be in the band’s setlist. The reason? They’re being taken to court by another artist, who claims “Hallowed” steals from his song. According to Iron Maiden’s management:

“Phantom Management are aware of the action brought by Barry McKay (initially by Barry McKay and Brian Quinn) against Steve Harris and Dave Murray.

“The dispute concerns the song ‘Life’s Shadow,’ a song originally written in the early 1970s, credited to Robert Barton and Brian Ingham, and recorded by the band Beckett. Steve Harris was a fan of Beckett and some six lines from ‘Life’s Shadow’ were referenced in Steve’s song, ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name,’ which was recorded by Iron Maiden and appeared on the album ‘The Number of the Beast’ which was released in 1982.

“As far as Steve is concerned, this matter was settled some years ago by agreement with Robert Barton, but there now appears to be a dispute between the two original writers as to their respective shares in ‘Life’s Shadow.’ Further, an individual called Barry McKay in taking this action now claims to publish Robert Barton’s interest in ‘Life’s Shadow,’ despite so far being unable to come up with a publishing agreement and showing little or no evidence in his claim of any interest in Mr. Barton’s songs in approximately 40 years. Mr. McKay also states that he entered into a publishing agreement with Brian Quinn (aka Ingham) on 29 March 2017, two days before the claim was served.

“Mr Barton maintains he was the writer of the lyrics of ‘Life’s Shadow’ and recently said: ‘I wrote the lyrics of ‘Life’s Shadow’ and am happy with how Iron Maiden have, and are, dealing with this matter.’

“Any evidence presented by Mr McKay will be looked at very closely and a Defence at court will be submitted in due course.”

For his part, McKay tells The Telegraph that “There was no need for Iron Maiden to withdraw the song from their set… I have never wanted to stop fans hearing their favorite Maiden song.” But that strikes me as being disingenuous; the only way Maiden could perform the song while it’s in legal limbo would be by settling with McKay, which a) I’m sure is money they don’t want to lose if they don’t have to, and b) would be a tacit admission of guilt, which I’m sure they’re not thrilled about, either.

So that sucks, but no one should be too bummed out — Maiden still have 83,495 other classics they can perform.

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