“I still recall that day during the tour with Iron Maiden. It was a freezing cold day, quite typical of what Northern Scotland would get in the heart of winter but not expected by us unknowing buffoons! Iron Maiden in those days were beginning to get known but we were hardly in a position of a private plane, etc. Nevertheless, the Maiden band members travelled separately in their own luxury liner (well certainly more luxurious when compared to ours)! We had to endure a 50-seater old coach and I think the seat number matched its age! Together with Mantis and our small entourage, the coach also housed the full Maiden crew. So from recollection, there were a good 25 guys in total on the coach.
“For some reason none of us was really dressed for the weather, which when looking back was strange … or just plain stupid! So there we were, trudging along on this long road journey. As it was, the old coach, which although being a bit leaky, was still pumping some nice heat into the cabin.
“There we were, seemingly in the heart of the Scottish moors when calamity struck and the coach engine broke down. I believe it was the back axle or something pretty serious like that. At first it was all pretty hilarious and there was lots of banter going round with the Maiden crew and all of us. Jokes were flying left right and centre.
"Also at that stage, the coach was still pretty warm because of the retained heat ... However, bit by bit the temperature began to drop, being that we were now exposed to the icy winds blowing across the plains and it was beginning to dawn on us that we were pretty much marooned!
“It's not as though we could just get out and jump into a cosy little coffee shop or anything! This breakdown spot really was in the middle of nowhere and was almost plucked out of a good horror movie setting. The driver had informed us that he would need to get out and go find a phone box. Yes of course, this was the time well before mobiles and public phone boxes were the only way to make a call when outside of your home. The trouble is, they could be miles away!
“The driver seemed to be gone for many hours but in reality, it was probably just a couple. When he did return, he told us that he had made contact with the coach company and there would be a replacement coach coming along shortly. At that stage, an almighty cheer went up from all of us as we were going to be saved! What we didn’t know at that time is that it would be many hours before the replacement coach would come. As the coach was now becoming uncomfortably cold, we realised that the engine could still be turned over and the driver occasionally started the engine to get some heat into the coach cabin, though to add salt in the wounds, we were also low on fuel.
“It is hard to describe, but those little periods of warmth were such an amazing treat and we welcomed it with open arms on each occasion … each time a little bit more than the previous. It was like a life-saving fix that the body craved. The colder the coach became the more we became dependent on these small doses of life that the driver was in charge of. Many of us pleaded with him to keep it on for longer, but he was wisely aware of the fuel level and perhaps trying to hold some back in case the other coach didn’t materialise!
“As the coach temperature plummeted further, I could now see a few of the roadies hugging each other for warmth, as by that point they didn’t care about credibility or any cissy name calling .... keeping alive and stopping your limbs from falling off through frost bite was far more important! And so this carried on for many hours…
“By this stage dusk was beginning to take hold and we were all conscious that the temperatures would really fall during the night. I really thought that at some stage there could be anarchy on board with the coach driver being tied and bound and with ringleaders taking over the heating control of the coach. Perhaps that was my vivid imagination ...! Lord of the rings on a coach!
“Then when we were all beginning to give up hope, we could see in the distance some bright lights heading towards us. Was it perhaps a transit lorry passing or a UFO?? No, this time it was indeed our knight in shining armour ... our saviour!
“To date, there have been few occurrences (other than beer and sex) that I have relished as much as seeing that coach. Not only was it a relatively plush new coach with many mod cons, the most important thing was that it had come on a long journey and thus it was pipingly warm on board.
“I remember us clambering on to the coach, as there was almost a scuffle to get out of the broken down coach and on to the gleaming replacement service. It was bliss to get on that warmly heated coach yet by that stage it was as though the cold had well and truly got into the bones as I was still trembling. I recall sharing a room with Bob Angelo, the guitarist in Mantis at that time.
“It was a fantastic quaint little Bed and Breakfast with a lovely landlady who had an immensely thick Scottish accent (of which I only understood every tenth word or so)! We explained our story to her and she seemed so sorry for us and suggested a remedy of a hot bath, coffee with a dram of whisky and sticking on the electric blanket! Of course, that wasn't rock and roll but hey it worked a rare treat!
This has stuck in our minds for all these years and is definitely one of those early memories of gigging in Scotland!