THE heavy metal band Iron Maiden has paid out a six-figure sum to a North-East musician over claims they copied his lyrics.

Songwriter Brian Quinn claimed some of the lyrics in the band’s trademark Hallowed Be Thy Name were similar to a song he wrote. He has received £100,000 in an out-of-court settlement following a legal battle.

The copyright action claim was launched by concert promoter Barry McKay who formerly managed Lindisfarne, on behalf of his friend.

It was claimed Iron Maiden founder Steve Harris lifted both the words and lyrics of Life’s Shadow, a song penned by Mr Quinn, who grew up in Whitley Bay, in 1969. It was also claimed the Life’s Shadow music appeared on the band’s 12th album, in a song titled The Nomad.

Life’s Shadow, written by Mr Quinn and fellow musician Bob Barton, from Newcastle,was released as part of an LP by a band called Beckett in the 1970s.

Iron Maiden said they had previously reached an agreement with Mr Barton over the song, who they believed to be the author of the lyrics in question. Under the terms of the settlement, Iron Maiden are free to use any part of Mr Quinn and Mr Barton’s song Life’s Shadow within their hit record. Iron Maiden still hold full rights over Hallowed Be Thy Name and The Nomad.

The agreement confirms that Mr Quinn, who now lives in Vancouver, Canada, and Mr Barton are joint owners of Life’s Shadow. Iron Maiden also agreed to pay £285,000 legal fees for Mr Quinn and Mr McKay alongside their own fees.

A spokesperson for Iron Maiden said: “We do not believe that Brian Quinn was the one who wrote these six lines in question over 40 years ago as was claimed by Barry McKay.

“However, due to escalating legal fees and the potential huge costs of a court case it was pragmatic to reluctantly settle this action with McKay for £100,000, a fraction of what he brought the action for.”

In a rebuttal Mr McKay said: "Taking lyrics and music from the Barton/Quinn song Life’s Shadow has definitely ended up costing Harris and Dave Murray £900,000 in combined damages and costs, paid to Barton and to Quinn and to their respective lawyers.

"That should be a lesson for them. Next time, and there is going to be another claim, they need to be more reasonable and fair. I find it sickening to have to take very wealthy musicians to court for plagiarizing the musical works of musicians who are not at all wealthy and who cannot afford to take on the might of Iron Maiden.”

He added: “If Andy Taylor and Rod Smallwood (managers of Harris/Murray/Iron Maiden) had provided accurate earnings figures for the two Maiden songs that infringed the “Life’s Shadow” copyright at the very start of the claim (which they did not) and then offered Brian Quinn a fair settlement of around £250,000, Steve Harris and Dave Murray could have saved themselves around £600,000 in legal costs.

"Instead they wanted a fight and so they got one. Had they not settled, I would have taken this case to trial when Steve Harris and Dave Murray would have been cross-examined under oath in the witness box before a judge.”

"The last time I was in court for a music case, when a record production/management company sued me, after I had been asked to assist one of their recording artistes to break out of a contract with them, their case collapsed after they were exposed for lying under oath. The Defence papers serves by Harris and Murray contained unsatisfactory statements, which they would have been questioned on in court had this case not settled.”

“Brian Quinn did not settle for “a fraction” of his claim. Our claim form lodged with the High Court stated that we were claiming a minimum figure of £200,000. Instead Harris/Murray instructed expensive lawyers (Simkins and a QC) to fight Brian Quinn who went on to cost them £300,000, as well as having to pay for every penny of my legal costs with Eversheds Sutherland, which were £285,000. On top of that, their plagiarism of “Life’s Shadow” had already £220,000 in damages and costs when they secretly settled with the other co-writer of “Life’s Shadow” Bob Barton.”

“To call me a “serial litigant” is sour grapes. Harris and Murray and their managers appear to me to be bad losers.

"However, I am now representing three other songwriters who also allege that Steve Harris and Dave Murray have also profiteered from lyrics that they wrote. If that makes me a “serial litigant” so be it. Musicians who have their intellectual property exploited by others who did not write or compose it are entitled to professional assistance.”