Steve Harris is the bassist, band leader and primary composer of the heavy metal band Iron Maiden. In addition, he plays keyboards, and sings backing vocals. He founded the band as a teenager in 1975. He and Dave Murray are the only members of the band to have appeared on all of the band's albums, and as Murray left the band for a few months prior to the first album to join Urchin, Harris is the only member to have remained in the band throughout its duration.
Harris is a self-taught bass player. His first bass was a copy of a Fender
Precision Bass that cost him £40 when he was 17 years old. He went on to use
a signature Lado "Unicorn" model and an early 1970s Fender Precision with
Harris' first band was named first Influence then Gypsy's Kiss. He later joined Smiler, of which all the band members were several years older than he was. He ended up leaving, as the members of the band made it clear that they did not care for a bassist who leapt around the stage and wrote songs. After Smiler, Harris went on to create Iron Maiden, getting the name from seeing an iron maiden, a type of torture instrument, in the movie The Man in the Iron Mask.
Harris is Maiden's principal composer and lyricist. His song writing typically showcases his trademark galloping bass patterns and features long songs with epic lyrics that feature many tempo changes. Harris frequently writes lyrics about mythology, history or topics inspired from books and films.
Harris is often considered among the best and most influential heavy metal bassists. He is most known for his "galloping" bass lines - usually an eighth note followed by two sixteenth notes at fast tempo (e.g., "The Trooper") or eighth note triplets – which he plays with two fingers. Before playing, Harris often chalks his fingers, to make these fast patterns easier to play, as shown on the bonus DVD for the A Matter of Life and Death album. Besides this he is very adventurous on the bass and plays intricate accompaniment in many of Maiden's songs. He also uses power chords, which are unusual on bass, on several songs. Harris has also stated that he never uses a pick and that he never warms up before a show.