“Big” John Harte, Infamous Bodyguard to KISS and Iron Maiden, Dead at 70
Sad news for the rock and metal world today, as “Big” John Harte, the bodyguard and head of security for acts including KISS, Iron Maiden, Billy Idol, and Prince, has died. He was 70 years old.
The news was confirmed by KISS, who posted the following tribute to their Instagram:
“We are heartbroken at the passing of our long time friend and KISS security director John Harte. He was and is a legend in KISSWORLD. Our deepest condolences to MaryAnne and Brian.”
Paul Stanley also paid tribute to him, quoting a post featuring several photos of Harte covering KISS’ face during their early days, in order to shield their identities from the press:
“How very sad. ‘Big John’ Harte was with us from the beginning and has ALWAYS been family. He fought valiantly and relentlessly against cancer and I was thankful to be able to cheer him on.”
“Big” John was born John Joseph Harte III in Newark, New Jersey, because of course he was from Jersey According to a quote from his memoirs via Blabbermouth, his career really started at a Grateful Dead gig where he kept rowdy crowds at bay:
“I was noticed at that show because I was big, dressed in denim and black, looked tough with my biker’s mustache and could handle a rowdy crowd. I soon found myself handling security at Passaic’s Capitol Theater, Jersey City’s Roosevelt Stadium and New York’s Fillmore East for musicians ranging from Gregg Allman to Lou Reed to the New York Dolls. I learned all aspects of the music business ‘ground up’ by ushering guests, tuning instruments for performers and doing whatever was needed to ensure a concert ran smoothly.”
In 1975, John took over as KISS’ head of security, and was pivotal in shielding their true identities from the public. He then spent most of the ’80s taking care of Iron Maiden, whose Nicko McBrain said of him, “A great guy and valued member of the family who will be sadly missed.”
Everyone at MetalSucks sends their heart out to John’s family, friends, and cohorts during this difficult time.