2010 and Ozzy Osborne and Metallica are household names, and everybody’s a freakin’ Maiden fan. Well let me tell you friends, 25 years ago the landscape looked a little but different to what it does today. Growing up a metal head in Sydney’s early to mid 80’s – metal was underground, which you might find hard to believe, but it was. That all began to change a couple years later with the more digestible and light metal sounds of Jon Bongiovi, which made hard and heavy rock accessible and radio friendly. Yet I was a Saxon fan, and Maiden too, and Ozzy, and Randy Rhoads for pete’s sake – not Sambora. There was no internet, no instant download of any of these artists entire catalogue – you joined fan clubs and wrote away to addresses that were on the back of album covers. The thrill of getting a letter or newsletter in the mail from your favourite band was something today’s generation of kids don’t quite understand. I remember Mr. Rockbrat received a Xmas Card once from Mark Slaughter of Vinnie Vincent’s Invasion and let me tell you, that was a buzz. Anyways, the point of all this is that I was once in the Maiden fan club, and I recently unearthed my fan club application letter from 26 years ago. You think you’re a Maiden fan ? As Izzy Stradlin once sung, ” I was here before you”. By the way, you’ll notice that the letter is signed by Keith Wilfort. Wilfort was one of Maiden’s earliest fans and caught Maiden’s first ever performance at the Cart & Horses tavern by accident. As the story goes he was giving a barmaid’s boyfriend the slip at the time after getting caught taking her out, and came in. He was completely blown away by ‘Transylvania’ and was converted on the spot. One night Keith walked into the Bridge House (another popular early gigging spot) with a home-made t-shirt proudly proclaiming ‘Charlotte Rules OK’, and soon followed it with a more elaborate ‘Invasion’ t-shirt. So, he is pretty much the inventor of the first Maiden t-shirt. He later ‘graduated’ to pushing the band’s merchandise, turning his home into a pit with thousands of copies of THE SOUNDHOUSE TAPES E.P. This EP never went on retail sale, but was distributed by Keith and and his mum from their house in Beaconsfield Rd, East Ham. They shifted 3000 copies in the first week alone which gives you some idea of the demand. So now you know….