Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden are an English heavy metal band from Leyton in east London, formed in 1975 by bassist and primary songwriter Steve Harris. Since their inception, the band’s discography has grown to include a total of thirty-six albums: fifteen studio albums; eleven live albums; four EPs; and six compilations.

Pioneers of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Iron Maiden achieved success during the early 1980s. After several line-up changes, the band went on to release a series of platinum and gold albums. These include the US platinum-selling albums The Number of the Beast in 1982, Piece of Mind in 1983, Powerslave in 1984, the live album Live After Death in 1985, Somewhere in Time in 1986, and Seventh Son of a Seventh Son in 1988. The band are currently undergoing a resurgence in popularity, with their 2006 album A Matter of Life and Death peaking at number nine on the Billboard 200 and at number four in the UK. Their latest studio album, The Final Frontier, was released worldwide on 16–17 August 2010, peaking at number one in 40 different countries. At the 53rd Grammy Awards, the second song of the album, “El Dorado”, won the Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance.

Considered one of the most successful heavy metal bands in history, Iron Maiden have reportedly sold over 85 million records worldwide with little radio or television support. The band won the Ivor Novello Award for international achievement in 2002, and were also inducted into the Hollywood RockWalk in Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, California during their United States tour in 2005. As of October 2009, the band has played over 2000 live shows during their career.

For the past 30 years, the band has been supported by their famous mascot, “Eddie”, who has appeared on almost all of their album and single covers, as well as in their live shows.

Early years (1975–1978)

Iron Maiden was formed on Christmas Day 1975, by bassist Steve Harris, shortly after he left his previous group, Smiler. Harris attributes the band name to a movie adaptation of The Man in the Iron Mask from the novel by Alexandre Dumas, which he saw around that time and which had a verbal connection to the iron maiden torture device.

Vocalist Paul Day was fired as he lacked “energy or charisma onstage”.He was replaced by Dennis Wilcock, a Kiss fan who utilised fire, make-up and fake blood during live performances. Wilcock’s friend Dave Murray was invited to join, to the dismay of the band’s guitarists Dave Sullivan and Terry Rance.Their frustration led Harris to temporarily disunite the band in 1976, though the group reformed soon after with Murray as the sole guitarist. Steve Harris and Dave Murray remain the longest-standing members of Iron Maiden.

Iron Maiden recruited yet another guitarist in 1977, Bob Sawyer. Tension ensued again, causing a rift between Murray and Wilcock that prompted Harris to fire both Murray and Sawyer. A poor gig at the Bridgehouse in November 1977, with a makeshift line-up including Tony Moore on keyboards, Terry Wapram on guitar, and drummer Barry Purkis resulted in Harris firing the entire band. Dave Murray was reinstated and Doug Sampsonwas hired as drummer. Wilcock in turn formed the band V1 with former Maiden guitarist Terry Wapram.

Rise to fame (1978–1981)

A chance meeting at the Red Lion pub in Leytonstone evolved into a successful audition for vocalist Paul Di’Anno. Steve Harris has stated, “There’s sort of a quality in Paul’s voice, a raspiness in his voice, or whatever you want to call it, that just gave it this great edge.”

Iron Maiden had been playing for three years, but had never recorded any of their music. On New Year’s Eve 1978, the band recorded an EP, The Soundhouse Tapes. Featuring only four songs, the band sold all five thousand copies within weeks. One track found on the EP, “Prowler”, went to number one on Neal Kay’s Heavy Metal Soundhouse charts in Sounds magazine. Their first appearance on an album was on the compilation Metal for Muthas (released on 15 February 1980) with two early versions of “Sanctuary” and “Wrathchild”.

From late 1977 to 1978, Murray was the sole guitarist in the band until Paul Cairns joined in 1979. Shortly before going into the studio, Cairns left the band. Several other guitarists were hired temporarily until the band finally chose Dennis Stratton. Initially, the band wanted to hire Dave Murray’s childhood friend Adrian Smith, but Smith was busy with his own band, Urchin. Drummer Doug Sampson was also replaced by Clive Burr (who was brought into the band by Stratton). In December 1979, the band landed a major record deal with EMI.

Iron Maiden’s eponymous 1980 release, Iron Maiden, made number 4 in the UK Albums Chart in its first week of release, and the group became one of the leading proponents of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement. In addition to the title track, the album includes other early favourites such as “Running Free”, “Transylvania”, “Phantom of the Opera”, and “Sanctuary” — which was not on the original UK release but made the U.S. release and subsequent re-releases. The band played a headline tour of the UK then went on to open for Kiss on their 1980 Unmasked Tour’s European leg. Iron Maiden also supported Judas Priest on select dates. After the Kiss tour, Dennis Stratton was dismissed from the band as a result of creative and personal differences. Stratton was replaced by Adrian Smith in October 1980.

In 1981, Maiden released their second album, titled Killers. This new album contained many tracks that had been written prior to the release of the debut album, but were considered surplus. With songs already created well in advance during tour, only two new tracks were written for the album: “Prodigal Son” and “Murders in the Rue Morgue” (the title was taken from the short story by Edgar Allan Poe).

Success (1981–1986)

By 1981, Paul Di’Anno was demonstrating increasingly self-destructive behaviour, particularly through alleged drug usage, although Di’Anno himself denies the charge.His performances began to suffer, just as the band was beginning to achieve major success in America. At the end of 1981 the band dismissed Di’Anno and sought a new vocalist.

Bruce Dickinson, previously of Samson, auditioned for Iron Maiden in September 1981 and joined the band soon afterward. He then went out on the road with the band on a small headlining tour. In anticipation of the band’s forthcoming album, the band played “Children of the Damned”, “Run to the Hills”, “22 Acacia Avenue” and “The Prisoner” at select venues, introducing fans to the sound that the band was progressing towards.

Dickinson’s recorded debut with Iron Maiden was 1982’s The Number of the Beast, an album that claimed the band their first ever UK Albums Chart #1 record and additionally became a Top Ten hit in many other countries. For the second time the band went on a world tour, visiting the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, UK and Germany. The new line up, with Bruce Dickinson on vocals, was effectively introduced to the British public at large – by headlining the Reading Rock festival, on Saturday night over the August Bank Holiday 1982. A new and hugely successful chapter in Iron Maiden’s future was cemented; the album went on to sell over 14 million copies worldwide.

The Number of the Beast tour’s U.S. leg proved controversial when an American conservative political lobbying group claimed Iron Maiden was Satanic because of the new album’s title track. The band members’ attempts to stop the criticism failed. A group of Christian activists destroyed Iron Maiden records (along with those of Ozzy Osbourne) as a protest against the band.

Dickinson at the time was still having legal difficulties with Samson’s management, and was not permitted to add his name to any of the songwriting credits. However, he was still able to lend “creative influence” to many of the songs. In a Guitar Legends interview he claims he contributed to the overall themes of “Children of the Damned”, “The Prisoner” and “Run to the Hills”.

In December 1982, drummer Clive Burr ended his association with the band due to personal and tour schedule problems. He was replaced by Nicko McBrain, previously of French band Trust. Soon afterwards, the band journeyed for the first time to The Bahamas to record the first of three consecutive albums at Compass Point Studios, and during 1983 released Piece of Mind, which reached the #3 spot in the UK, and was the band’s debut at the North American charts, with a #70 at the Billboard 200. Piece of Mind includes the successful singles “Flight of Icarus” and “The Trooper”.

Soon after the success of Piece of Mind, the band released Powerslave on 9 September 1984. The album featured fan favourites “2 Minutes to Midnight”, “Aces High”, and “Rime of The Ancient Mariner”, the latter based on Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem of the same name and running over 13 minutes long.

The tour following the album, dubbed the World Slavery Tour, was the band’s largest to date and consisted of 193 shows over 13 months. This was one of the largest tours in music history – playing to 3,500,000 people over the course of 13 months. Many shows were played back-to-back in the same city, such as in Long Beach, California ( 4 consecutive sold out shows to summary audience of 54 000 fans), where most of the recordings were made for their subsequent live release Live After Death which has since become one of the best selling metal live albums and is often regarded by critics and fans as the one of the best hard rock/heavy metal live albums ever. Iron Maiden also co-headlined (with Queen) the Rock In Rio festival, where they performed to an estimated crowd of 300,000 festivalgoers.This tour was physically gruelling for the band and they took a 6-month vacation when it ended. This was the first vacation in the band’s history, including even cancelling a proposed supporting tour for the new live album.

Experimentation (1986–1989)

Returning from their vacation, the band adopted a different style for their 1986 studio album, entitled Somewhere in Time. This was not a concept album, though it was themed loosely around the idea of time travel and associated themes – history, the passage of time, and long journeys. It featured, for the first time in the band’s history, synthesised bass and guitars to add textures and layers to the sound. Though considered different from the norm of Maiden sounds, it charted well across the world, particularly with the single “Wasted Years”.

The experimentation evident on Somewhere in Time continued and was apparent on their next album, entitled Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, which was released in 1988. Adding to Iron Maiden’s experimentation, it was a concept album featuring a story about a mythical child who possessed clairvoyant powers. For the first time, the band used keyboards on a recording, as opposed to guitar synthesisers on the previous release. Critics claimed this produced a more accessible release. It became the band’s second album to hit #1 in the UK charts. During the Monsters of Rock festival at Donington Park on August 20, 1988, attendance was placed as 107,000; the biggest crowd attendance in the festival’s history. Other performances in the festival included Kiss, David Lee Roth, Megadeth, Guns N’ Roses and Helloween. (The festival was marred, however by the deaths of two fans in a crowd-surge during the aforementioned Guns ‘N’ Roses’ performance; the following year’s festival was cancelled, as a result).

In 1990, to end Iron Maiden’s first ten years of releasing singles, they released The First Ten Years, a series of ten CDs and double 12″ vinyls. Between 24 February and 28 April 1990, the individual parts were released one-by-one, each containing two of Iron Maiden’s singles, including the B-sides.

Upheaval (1989–1994)

In 1989, after touring with Iron Maiden, guitarist Adrian Smith released a solo album with his band ASAP entitled Silver and Gold. During this break in 1989, vocalist Bruce Dickinson began work on a solo album with former Gillan guitarist Janick Gers, releasing Tattooed Millionaire in 1990.

Soon afterward, Iron Maiden regrouped to work on a new album. Adrian Smith left the band due to differences with Steve Harris regarding the direction the band should be taking. Janick Gers, having worked on Bruce Dickinson’s solo project, was chosen to replace Smith and became the first new team member in seven years. The album, No Prayer for the Dying, was released during October 1990.

The band obtained their first (and to date, only) UK Singles Chart number one successful single with “Bring Your Daughter… to the Slaughter”, originally recorded by Dickinson for the soundtrack to A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child. It was released on 24 December 1990, and was one of the first records to be released on several different formats with different B-sides. The single holds the record for being the fastest release to reach number one and then lose any chart rating again over the following couple of weeks.

Dickinson performed a solo tour in 1991 before returning to studio work with Iron Maiden for the album Fear of the Dark. Released in 1992, the album was noticeably longer (due to this being Iron Maiden’s first album recorded for CD rather than LP) and had several songs which became fan favourites, such as the title track and “Afraid to Shoot Strangers”. The disc also featured “Wasting Love”, one of the band’s softer songs, and the #2 single “Be Quick or Be Dead”. The album featured the first songwriting by Gers, and no collaboration at all between Harris and Dickinson on songs. The extensive worldwide tour that followed included their first ever Latin American leg (after a single concert during the World Slavery Tour), and being the headline act of “Monsters of Rock Festival” in seven European countries. Iron Maiden’s second performance at Donington Park, gathering near to 80,000 festivalgoers, originated the album and video release Live at Donington.

In 1993, Bruce Dickinson left the band to further pursue his solo career but agreed to remain for a farewell tour and two live albums (later re-released in one package). The first, A Real Live One, featured songs from 1986 to 1992, and was released in March 1993. The second, A Real Dead One, featured songs from 1980 to 1984, and was released after Dickinson had left the band. He played his farewell show with Iron Maiden on 28 August 1993. The show was filmed, broadcast by the BBC, and released on video under the name Raising Hell.

Blaze Bayley era, The X Factor and Virtual XI (1994–1999)

In 1994, the band auditioned hundreds of vocalists, both famous and unknown before choosing Blaze Bayley, formerly of the band Wolfsbane. Bayley had a different vocal style from his predecessor, which ultimately received a mixed reception among fans.

After a two year hiatus (and three year hiatus from recording – a record for the band at the time) Iron Maiden returned in 1995. Releasing The X Factor, the band had their lowest chart position since 1981 for an album in the UK (debuting at number 8). The album included the 11-minute epic “Sign of the Cross”, the band’s longest song since “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”. It also included “Man on the Edge”, based on the movie Falling Down and “Lord of the Flies”, based on the novel of the same name. The band toured for the rest of 1995 and 1996, playing for the first time in Israel and South Africa, before stopping to release the Best of the Beast. The band’s first compilation, it included a new single, “Virus”.

The band returned to the studio for Virtual XI, released in 1998. Chart scores of the album were the band’s lowest to date, failing to score one million worldwide sales for the first time in Iron Maiden’s history. At the same time, Steve Harris assisted in remastering the entire discography of Iron Maiden up to Live at Donington(which was given a mainstream release for the first time) and released the set.

The Final Frontier (2010–present)

Following announcements that the band had begun composition of new material and booked studio time in early 2010 with Kevin Shirley producing, The Final Frontier was announced on March 4.The album, the band’s fifteenth, was released on August 16, garnering critical acclaim and the band’s greatest commercial success in their history, reaching number one in forty countries worldwide.

The album’s supporting tour would see the band play 98 shows across the globe, including the band’s first visits to Indonesia and Transylvania. It is set to conclude in London on August 6, 2011.

At the 53rd Grammy Awards on February 13, 2011, “El Dorado” won the Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance.[2] It is the band’s first win following two previous Grammy nominations. Earlier nominations were: “Fear of the Dark” (at the 1994 Grammys) and “The Wicker Man” (at the 2001 Grammys).

It was announced on March 15 that EMI will release a new compilation album to accompany 2009’s Somewhere Back in Time, to be entitled From Fear to Eternity on May 23. The album has since been pushed back to June 6. The double disc album will cover the period 1990-2010 and the band’s most recent eight albums. As on Somewhere Back in Time, live versions with Bruce Dickinson on vocals will be included in place of original recordings which featured other vocalists, in this case Blaze Bayley.

In a press release regarding the release of From Fear to Eternity, band manager Rod Smallwoodrevealed that the band will release a new concert video to DVD in 2011, filmed during The Final Frontier World Tour.

Influence on other artists

Iron Maiden’s sound and music has inspired countless other bands in the heavy metal and rock genre. Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich said “Iron Maiden have been the blueprint for everything that we have ever wanted to do. I have always had an incredible amount of respect and admiration for them.”

Kerry King of Slayer says: “The reason why Slayer’s here is because of Iron Maiden. We played ‘Phantom of the Opera’ in a small club; luckily we were spotted by the owner of Metal Blade… and well, here we are now!”

Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor is also a huge fan saying “Steve Harris does more with four fingers than I’ve ever seen anybody do. And Bruce Dickinson? Dude! To me, he was the quintessential old-school heavy metal singer. He could hit notes that were just sick, and he was a great showman. Everything made me a fan. And there wasn’t a dude that I hung out with that wasn’t trying to draw Eddie on their schoolbooks.”

WWE wrestler Chris Jericho says Iron Maiden are his favourite band and they had a huge influence on his band Fozzy, saying “And even till this very day me, and Fozzy will always respect Iron Maiden for the things they did after all, they’re the reason why Fozzy exists!”

M. Shadows of Avenged Sevenfold calls Maiden the best live band of all time saying “Maiden are by far the best live band in the world and their music is timeless.”

Trivium singer Matt Heafy feels “Iron Maiden helped create what we know as heavy metal. Their influence can be heard on classic and contemporary bands alike; their fanbase spans across the youngest and newest of heavy music recruits all the way to the diehard, life-long metal elite. Without Iron Maiden, Trivium surely wouldn’t exist”

Iron Maiden’s music also helped Jesper Strömblad of In Flames to pioneer the melodic death metal genre, stating that he had wanted to combine death metal with the melodic guitar sounds of Iron Maiden.

The band’s name is named prominently (and repeated several times) in the songs “Teenage Dirtbag” by Wheatus and “Back to the 80’s” by Danish dance-pop band Aqua.

Punk rock band NOFX released a song titled “Eddie, Bruce and Paul” on their 2009 album Coaster. This track tells the story of Iron Maiden, and is performed in the style of their early work.

Pop singer Lady Gaga calls Maiden her favourite band of all time, and says she used to cover “Run to the Hills” in her live set.

Weezer mentions them in the song “Heart Songs” from their 2008 self-titled “Red” album. The verse goes: “Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Slayer taught me how to shred…”

The Sum 41 song “Fat Lip” contains the line “Heavy metal and mullets it’s how we were raised, Maiden and Priest were the gods that we praised”

Swedish power metal band Sabaton made references to Iron Maiden in their songs “Metal Machine”, “Metal Crüe” and “Metal Ripper”, referencing various Iron Maiden songs (namely Fear Of The Dark, Afraid To Shoot Strangers and Two Minutes To Midnight) in the first, the name of the band itself in the second and lyrics from the song “The Number Of The Beast” in the last.

Image and legacy

Iron Maiden were ranked #24 in VH1’s “100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock”. The band were ranked fourth on MTV’s “Top 10 Greatest Heavy Metal Bands of All Time”. Iron Maiden were named as the third best heavy metal band of all time on VH1 Classic: Top 20 Metal Bands The band also won the Ivor Novello Award for international achievement in 2002. The band was also inducted into the Hollywood RockWalk during their tour in the United States during 2005.

Iron Maiden frequently use the slogan “Up the Irons” in their disc liner notes, and the phrase can also be seen on several t-shirts officially licensed by the band. That’s a paraphrase of “Up the Hammers” that has been used to refer to the London football club, West Ham United, of which founder Steve Harris is a fan. Fans of Iron Maiden have been known to use the phrase as a greeting or sign-off to other Iron Maiden fans.

Iron Maiden’s mascot, Eddie, is a perennial fixture in the band’s science fiction and horror-influenced album cover art, as well as in live shows. Eddie was painted exclusively by Derek Riggs until 1992, at which point the band began using artwork from numerous other artists as well, including Melvyn Grant. Eddie is also featured in a first-person shooter video game from the band, Ed Hunter, as well as numerous books, graphic comics and band-related merchandise.

In 2008, Kerrang! released an album, entitled Maiden Heaven: A Tribute to Iron Maiden, composed of Iron Maiden cover songs played by artists such as Metallica, Machine Head, Dream Theater, Trivium, Coheed and Cambria, Avenged Sevenfold, and others who were influenced by Iron Maiden throughout their careers. Well over a half-dozen other Iron Maiden tribute albums (each featuring various artists) exist, including a piano tribute, an electro tribute, a black metal tribute and a hip-hop tribute.

Iron Maiden songs have been featured in the soundtracks of several video games, including Carmageddon 2, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Grand Theft Auto: Episodes From Liberty City, Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4, SSX on Tour and Madden NFL 10.[74] Their music also appears in the Guitar Hero and Rock Band series of rhythmic video games. Iron Maiden songs have also appeared on the films Phenomena (called “Creepers” in the U.S.), and Murder by Numbers; while MTV’s animated duo Beavis and Butt-head have commented favourably on Iron Maiden multiple times.

Transformers author Bill Forster is an avowed Iron Maiden fan and included multiple Iron Maiden references, including song lyrics and the phrase “Up the Irons,” in his books, including The Ark series and The AllSpark Almanac series.In October 2007, Iron Maiden commissioned an Astraeus 757 as transport for their ‘Somewhere Back in Time World Tour’ in 2008. Lead singer Bruce Dickinson piloted the aircraft, “Ed Force One,” since he is also a commercial airline pilot for Astraeus. The aircraft was converted into a combi configuration, repainted with a special Iron Maiden livery, had a list of all the places where the band was going to present in the tour Somewhere Back in Time’ and was used in this scheme until 28 May 2008 for commercial flights as well as use by Iron Maiden. The same aircraft (G-OJIB) was used again on the second leg of the Somewhere Back in Time tour in 2009. It plays a major role on the award-winning documentary Iron Maiden: Flight 666 which was released in cinemas in 42 countries in April 2009 and appeared on DVD and Blu-ray formats in the US in June 2009. Iron Maiden: Flight 666′ debuted on British television on 4 March 2010 at 11:00pm on BBC4 as part of Heavy Metal Britannia.

Iron Maiden
Background information
Origin Leyton, London, England
Genres Heavy metal
Years active 1975–present
Labels EMI, Universal, Sanctuary, Epic, Columbia, Portrait, Capitol
Bruce Dickinson
Steve Harris
Dave Murray
Janick Gers
Adrian Smith
Nicko McBrain
Past members
Blaze Bayley
Clive Burr
Paul Day
Paul Di’Anno
Dennis Stratton
Doug Sampson
Iron Maiden Lyrics

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