IRON MAIDEN's Nicko McBrain discussed his drumming influences during a May 21 live webinar with Modern Drummer magazine. He said (see video below): "I went through a pop phase when I was learning THE [ROLLING] STONES, THE BEATLES and Marvin Gaye — all those kind of guys. I was playing pop music, soul music and went into blues. And then, obviously, for my style, the music that I was playing in the late '60s, early '70s transferred into this kind of funk stuff. That was my main go-to — what I loved to play… So my style came from all these genres of music.
"How I think really my style progressed was the bass players I played with," he continued. "They were primarily funk players. And then when I [played] with Pat Travers, we had the great and wonderful 'Mars' Peter Cowling on bass. And that guy and I, we just clicked. 'Cause I had this funk side to me, and yet I also had a flamboyant side, which was a more percussive player, because there was only three of us.
"My style really came from the bass players I was playing [with] and the music I was listening to at that time," he added. "But I still took that early feel that I had, 'cause I grew up listening to the greats in the '60s. It was '63 when I first really got into playing; I was 10 years old… That's where my influences came from — those bands at that time."
Tapped to replace Clive Burr in 1982 after touring activities for "Number Of The Beast" concluded, McBrain brought a degree of finesse and technicality that was largely missing from IRON MAIDEN's early output. Whereas Burr was often lauded for his heavy-handed, punk-oriented style, McBrain was largely the opposite, playing with a degree of dexterity and flair that helped primary songwriter Steve Harris take MAIDEN down more adventurous paths. He is now the third longest-tenured member of MAIDEN, behind Harris and guitarist Dave Murray.
McBrain spent his early drumming years playing for the likes of Pat Travers and French rockers TRUST, eventually falling onto the radar of Harris and MAIDEN during the group's initial European tour.