As a forever fan of heavy metal folklore, here's a nice throwback to 1988 and the not-so-secret gig Iron Maiden played at the storied Brooklyn, New York heavy metal club, L'Amour. Maiden was billed as Charlotte and the Harlots –a nod to their song "Charlotte the Harlot," (1980), and is part of the band's four-song "Charlotte the Harlot saga." The saga is yet another bit of Maiden mythology worth digging into as well, if you're unfamiliar with it. And former Maiden vocalist Paul D'Ianno has lots of thoughts on Charlotte you'd probably find entertaining.
For today, we're going to revisit the time when 1700 frenzied metal fans showed up at the lionized rock capital of Brooklyn (or B'KLYN as it was spelled on the club's entrance), L'Amour. Sure, most of them knew they were about to see Iron Maiden, as the rumored L'Amour's headliners on May 8th, 1988 was actually Iron Maiden had been spread around. But lots of the headbangers that got into L'Amour that night didn't know. And this was evident when the crowd went completely ballistic when they hit the stage. So why did Iron Maiden pick L'Amour to play their first U.S. gig of their Seventh Son of a Seventh Son Tour? It's not hard to understand, given the history of the club and its early affiliation with the heavy metal community.
L'Amour started out as a disco club in 1978. But by 1979 they were already hosting weekly "rock nights" which became insanely popular, quickly overthrowing L'Amour's disco scene. One of the secrets to the clubs' success was house DJ Alex Kayne, who, like L'Amour, started out spinning disco tracks at the notorious Gallery Discothèque. Kayne, the author of the book L'Amour: Rock Capital of Brooklyn (2015), played a critical part in helping to proliferate emerging heavy metal bands like Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax (who, like Maiden, used the fake name "Satan's Lounge Band" in L'Amour's early days), and Metallica.
At the time, the radio wasn't paying attention to heavy metal, and metal on MTV didn't exist so if you wanted to hear jams from the bands I just mentioned (and more), Kayne was your man. If I could possibly heap more praise on Kayne (and trust me, I can), he is also credited as being the very first DJ to play Judas Priest's 1982 album Screaming for Vengeance, as well as early demos by the big four before they were, well, big. Of all of the things Kayne has seen, heard, and made happen at L'Amour, he credits Iron Maiden's gig as Charlotte and the Harlots as one of the best ever. Here's more on that from Kayne:
"It was supposed to be a secret show but we were leaking the word everywhere we could. On the club answering machine it said something like, 'The rumors are true so run to the hills and get your tickets now!' Some people missed that show thinking they were a tribute band and are probably still sorry about that. They wanted to kick off that tour at L’Amour. Their energy level was off the hook. And you can still feel the energy of that crowd and the energy of the band by watching the videos – it was something that bands and audiences could only dream about. That was an awesome show."
So, on Kayne's recommendation, let's take a look at some of the footage captured that night while wishing we had been there, or perhaps were lucky enough to be as, what some recall to be, a nearly three-hour set by the mighty Iron Maiden? Maybe you even have one of these covetable shirts sold at the show. If that's the case, lucky you. Lastly, since this was 1988, Scott, Charlie, and Frank of Anthrax get up on the very sweaty stage with Maiden during "Heaven Can Wait" and help them bang out the song.