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10 Albums That Changed My Life: Adrian Smith

Adrian Smith, the longtime guitarist of heavy metal giants Iron Maiden, and the co-founder of the guitar-driven project Smith/Kotzen, picks the 10 albums that changed his life.
Adrian Smith, 2021 publicity photo.

Adrian Smith, 2021 publicity photo.

Adrian Smith, the longtime guitarist of heavy metal giants Iron Maiden, recently joined up with guitarist and producer Richie Kotzen to form the guitar-driven project Smith/Kotzen. With their eponymous release out in March, Smith is busy promoting the nine track album, which is empowered by clean melodies and sharp riffs.

While Smith and Kotzen trade vocals, guitar and bass duties on recorded tracks, the record also features Smith’s Maiden bandmate Nicko McBrain on drums. In the end, Smith really cherishes this collaboration with Kotzen: “We both share a love for classic rock and bluesy rock so we decided to get together and start writing some songs and it went from there.”

And you can see those classic rock influences throughout Adrian Smith’s picks for Goldmine’s 10 Albums That Changed My Life.

— Patrick Prince



The Beatles, Rubber Soul

I loved the Beatles. I really liked the way John Lennon sang in the early days; very raw and powerful. They were the first band to have a visual and audio impact on me. As a small child growing up in the 1960s London, I had a Beatles wig and my dad’s ukulele and I used to stand in front of the television whenever they came on, trying to copy them, much to the amusement of the rest of my family.



Deep Purple, Machine Head

I stumbled across this album in my sister’s bedroom as a teenager. I think it belonged to her boyfriend at the time as normally her music tastes were Motown influenced. The opening song “Highway Star” was like a burning fuse. Ian Gillan’s primal yet musical scream leading the band into what would become the anthem of my youth.


Free Live

Free, Free Live

I think this was one of the first albums I ever bought. Paul Rodgers is still my favorite singer ever, and Paul Kossoff was a major influence. To this day, Free Live still feels raw and exciting to me. It’s ‘70s blues rock at its finest.


Performance, Rockin the Fillmore Humble Pie

Humble Pie, Performance, Rockin’ the Fillmore

One of my all-time favorites. I was lucky enough to get to tour with them across North America in 1981. We were promoting Maiden’s second album, Killers, at the time. I’d joined the band at the end of 1980 and this tour was the first time any of us had ever been to America. We were supporting Judas Priest and Humble Pie were second on the bill. The whole experience was massively exciting and a real eye-opener for me.


Jailbreak - Thin Lizzy

Thin Lizzy, Jailbreak

Great songs, full of melody, but tough as nails. I was a huge fan of Scott Gorham’s playing and actually got to jam with him at the Thunderdrive charity gig, in London in 1994, which my wife had organized. Afterwards Scott and I exchanged phone numbers starting a friendship that endures to this day.


Who’s Next -The Who

The Who, Who’s Next

Big influence on my songwriting. One of my all-time favorite songs is “Baba O’Riley.” There’s not many rock fans who don’t like those huge power chords! I was lucky enough to see them at a small gig in my local Town Hall when they were warming up for a tour in the mid-’90s. They were incredible. Pete Townshend was a genuine innovator.


Gretchen Goes to Nebraska- Kings X

Kings X , Gretchen Goes to Nebraska

Great songs and playing, and so original. Dug Pinnick’s voice is so expressive. Loved the vocal harmonies, definite Beatles influence there. Inspired me to try a three-piece set up in the ’90s, that later became the band Psycho Motel.


The Extremist- Joe Satriani

Joe Satriani, The Extremist

Love his playing and tone. Also huge production on this. Joe is my favorite of the shredder type guitarists because he has great feel as well as amazing technique. He writes great guitar melodies and hooks. My favorite songs are “War” and “Summer Song.”


Texas Flood -S R Vaughan

Stevie Ray Vaughan, Texas Flood

His playing was so clean and powerful. I liked his singing, too. He really revitalized the blues rock scene. I was honored to direct him to the elevator in the Sunset Marquis Hotel in Hollywood once...


Bad Company -Bad Company

Bad Company, Bad Company

Got this album as a Christmas present from my older brother around the mid-’70s. Full of classic songs, and Paul Rodgers is my favorite singer. You believe every word he sings. Loved the rhythm section, especially Boz Burrell’s popping, fretless bass lines, and Mick Ralphs’ fat guitar riffs. It’s a very “live” sounding album, like they just went in and played as a band and hit “record.”