Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden are an English heavy metal band from East London. Formed in 1975 by bassist Steve Harris, previously of Gypsy's Kiss and Smiler, Maiden (as some fans affectionately refer to the group) are one of the most successful and influential bands in the heavy metal genre, selling over 70 million albums world-wide. Iron Maiden has so far released 14 studio albums, four 'best of' compilations, nine live albums, and four boxed sets. They won the Ivor Novello Award for international achievement in 2002.

Iron Maiden's mascot, Eddie, is a perennial fixture in the band's horror-influenced album cover art, as well as in live shows. Eddie was originally drawn by Derek Riggs but has had various incarnations by Melvyn Grant. Eddie is also featured in a first-person shooter video game - Ed Hunter - as well as numerous books, graphic comics and band-related merchandise.

The band has headlined several major events in its career, notably Rock In Rio, Ozzfest alongside Black Sabbath, Donington's famous "Monsters of Rock", "Download" Festivals and the "Reading and Leeds Festivals.

Iron Maiden were ranked #24 in VH1's "100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock", and in Kerrang! magazine were ranked as the most important band of the last 25 years. They were ranked fourth on MTV's "Top 10 Greatest Heavy Metal Bands of All Time".

The road from formation to the present started on Christmas Day 1975 shortly after bassist Steve Harris formed his own band after his bandmates in the group Smiler rejected many of his original songs. Harris attributes the band name to a movie adaptation of The Man in the Iron Mask he saw around that time, and so the group was christened after the medieval torture device.

Harris and guitarist Dave Murray remain the longest surviving members of Iron Maiden. The band had twelve different line-ups in the 1970s, paying their dues on the mostly punk club circuit in London's rough East End while struggling to form a stable lineup of band members. Although Iron Maiden was a metal band influenced by Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, UFO, Yes, Wishbone Ash, Apocalypse, Queen and Judas Priest, the earlier music had undoubted punk overtones. Lacking "enough energy or charisma onstage", original vocalist Paul Day became replaced by the outlandish Dennis Wilcock, a huge KISS fan who utilizeded fire, make-up and fake blood during live commitments. News of fellow erstwhile Warlock member and guitarist friend, Murray, travelled back to Harris and so Murray was invited to join, much to the chagrin of guitarists Dave Sullivan and Terry Rance. This fuelled Harris to temporarily split the band in the Winter of 1976, though the group reformed soon after with Murray as sole axeman.

A quartet in 1977's initial beginning, the group opted to recruit another guitarist, Bob Sawyer. Sawyer caused a rift between Murray and Wilcock, prompting Harris to sack both Murray and Sawyer. A vastly revised lineup played an inaugural gig at the Bridgehouse in November 1977, now comprising Tony Moore on keyboards, Terry Wrapram strumming guitar, not to mention Barry Purkis (later rechristened 'Thunderstick' as part of the group Samson) as additional members - such was Steve Harris' annoyance that these entire fresh recruits were scrapped. Upset, Wilcock didn't arrive to a subsequent gig, onset with the announcement of his departure. With Dave Murray reinstated and Doug Sampson occupying drums, the group continued.

Star Studios in Bow, London played host to three rehearsals a week throughout the Summer and Autumn of 1978. A chance meeting at the Red Lion pub in Leytonstone with a person named Trevor evolved into a successful audition for punky vocalist Paul Di'Anno. Steve Harris reflected; 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 and gained a loyal following, but had never recorded any of their music. On New Year's Eve of 1978, the band recorded one of the most famous demos in hard rock history, The Soundhouse Tapes. Featuring only three songs, the band sold all five thousand copies within weeks. One track found upon the demo, "Prowler", went to number one on Neal Kay's Heavy Metal Soundhouse charts in Sounds. 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".

In several of the early Iron Maiden line-ups, Dave Murray was joined by another guitarist, but for most of 1977 and all of 1978, Murray was the sole six-stringer in the band. This changed with the arrival of Paul Cairns in 1979. Shortly before going into the studio, Cairns left the band and several other guitarists played alongside Murray until the band finally settled on Dennis Stratton. Initially, the band wanted to hire Dave Murray's childhood friend Adrian Smith, but Smith was busy singing and playing guitar for his own band, Urchin. Drummer Doug Sampson was also replaced by Clive Burr (who was brought into the band by Stratton), and in December 1979, the band landed a major record deal by signing an EMI contract at the label's old bulding in London's Manchester Square.

The eponymous 1980 released Iron Maiden made number 4 on the UK charts in its first week of release, and the group became one of the leading proponents of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. The band went on to open for KISS on their 1980 Unmasked tour, as well as opening select dates for the legendary Judas Priest. After the KISS tour, Dennis Stratton was fired from the band as a result of creative and personal differences. The timing was right for the arrival of guitarist Adrian Smith.

Smith brought a sharp, staccato sound to Iron Maiden. His tight, experimental style was the complete opposite of Murray's smooth, rapid take on blues. One of Iron Maiden's trademarks is the double "twin lead" harmonising guitar stylings of Murray and Smith, a style pioneered by Wishbone Ash and Thin Lizzy, and developed further by Judas Priest and Iron Maiden.

In 1981, Maiden released its second album, titled Killers. This new album contained many tracks that had been penned prior to the release of the debut album, but were considered surplus. With songs already shaped on the road well in advance, only two new tracks were written for the album; "Prodigal Son" and "Murders in the Rue Morgue".

Like many bands, Maiden consumed a large amount of alcohol in their early days. However, most members dabbled very little in other drugs, with Steve Harris never taking them at all. The exception was vocalist Paul Di'Anno, who demonstrated increasingly self-destructive behaviour, particularly through cocaine usage. His performances began to suffer, just as the band was beginning to achieve large-scale success in America. At the end of 1981 the band replaced Di'Anno with former Samson vocalist Bruce Dickinson.

Dickinson vowed from the start that he was his own man – in his own words, he "wasn't going to wear frilly collars and cut his hair". Legendary DJ Tommy Vance had told Dickinson not to join the band – advice which was ignored. Dickinson's debut with Iron Maiden was 1982's album The Number of the Beast, which is recognised as a classic of the heavy metal genre. This album was a world-wide success providing definitive songs such as "The Number of the Beast", "Run to the Hills" and "Hallowed Be Thy Name". For the second time the band went on a world tour, visiting the United States, Canada, Japan and Australia. The tour was marred (or perhaps promoted) by controversy coming from religious groups that claimed Iron Maiden was a Satanic group because of their dark lyrics, which supposedly spoke of Satan. The allegations centered around one song, "The Number of the Beast", a song ostensibly about a bad dream. The members of Iron Maiden tried to deflect this criticism by insisting that the lyrics were based on a dream of Steve Harris's, but the accusations persisted. A group of Christian activists destroyed the band's records (along with those of Ozzy Osbourne) by burning them in a large fire. This controversy, unfortunately, is thought to be one of the main causes of the stereotype that all heavy metal is Satanic. However, these accusations of Satanism were largely based on misinterpretation of the song, or fear of the aggressive, energetic nature of the music. Iron Maiden's current drummer, Nicko McBrain, is a born-again Christian, and is happy to play the song, which he sees as a warning against Satanism.

On the same tour, producer Martin Birch was involved in a car accident with a group of church-goers. Coincidentally, the bill for the repair came to £666, a figure which Birch refused to pay, instead opting for a higher amount.

Actor Patrick McGoohan was accommodating when a request was made to allow the band to use a spoken intro from the cult TV series, The Prisoner, in which McGoohan was the lead actor, producer and series writer. McGoohan was a big name in 1982, and Iron Maiden manager Rod Smallwood was nervous about making the request. The conversation between McGoohan and Smallwood allegedly went:

McGoohan: "What did you say the name of the band was again?"
Smallwood: "Iron Maiden"
McGoohan: "A rock band, you it!"

Before heading back into the studio in 1983, they replaced drummer Clive Burr with Nicko McBrain and went on to release four albums which went multi-platinum world-wide: the dark and ultra-heavy Piece of Mind, featuring "Flight of Icarus" and "The Trooper" (1983), Powerslave featuring "2 Minutes to Midnight", "Aces High", and "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" (1984), the double-live album Live After Death (1985), and the experimental, Adrian Smith-led Somewhere in Time (1986) featuring "Wasted Years."

Satanic accusations persisted - there was a lot of controversy about occult messages in many bands' music at the time, normally discovered by playing the offending track backwards. On the Piece of Mind album, a backward message was placed at the start of the track "Still Life" as a kind of internal joke. Reverse this track, and you will hear drummer McBrain clearly saying "Hmm, Hmmm, what ho sed de t'ing wid de t'ree bonce. Don't meddle wid t'ings you don't understand", followed by a belch. McBrain later admitted this to be his "famous" impression of Idi Amin Dada. It translates to the following: "'What ho,' said the monster with the three heads, 'don't meddle with things you don't understand.'"

Also on the Piece of Mind album, renowned author Frank Herbert came into conflict with the band when they wanted to record a song named after the book Dune. Not only did Herbert refuse to allow the song to be called "Dune", he also refused to allow a spoken quotation from the book to appear as the track's intro. Bass player Steve Harris's request was met with a stern reply from the agent: "No. Because Frank Herbert doesn't like rock bands, particularly heavy rock bands, and especially rock bands like Iron Maiden". This statement was backed up with a legal threat, and eventually the song was renamed "To Tame a Land" and released in 1983.

In 1988, the band tried a different approach for their seventh studio album, titled Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. This was a concept album featuring a story about a mythical child who possessed clairvoyant powers based on the book Seventh Son by Orson Scott Card.

For the first time, the band used keyboards on a recording (as opposed to guitar synths on the previous release). In the opinion of some critics, this produced a more accessible release. The band also headlined the annual Monsters of Rock Festival for the first time this year. The 1990 edition of the Guinness Book of Records contains the following entry:

"Largest PA system: On Aug 20th 1988 at the Castle Donington "Monsters of Rock" Festival a total of 360 Turbosound cabinets offering a potential 523kW of programme power, formed the largest front-of-house PA. The average Sound Pressure Level at the mixing tower was 118dB, peaking at a maximum of 124 dB during Iron Maiden's set. It took five days to set up the system."

To close off their first ten years of releasing singles, Iron Maiden released The First Ten Years, a series of ten cds and double 12" vinyls. Between February 24 and April 28 1990, the individual parts were released one by one, and each contains two of Iron Maiden's singles, including the b-sides, along with a part of "Listen With Nicko!"

For the first time in seven years, the band had a line-up change with the departure of guitarist/backing vocalist Adrian Smith. Former Gillan guitarist Janick Gers was chosen to replace Smith, and in 1990 they released the raw sounding album No Prayer for the Dying. This album went back to the heavy style of the band. This album featured one last song co-penned by Adrian Smith with Bruce Dickinson, "Hooks in You", despite Smith's having not been involved in the band after Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. Vocalist Bruce Dickinson also began experimenting with a raspier style of singing that was a marked departure from his trademark operatic style. Nonetheless, the band obtained their first (and to date, only) number one hit single "Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter". It was released on December 24, 1990, and was one of the first records to be released on several different formats with different B-sides, thus encouraging fans to buy several copies. The single holds the record for being the fastest release straight in to number one and straight out of the charts again over the following couple of weeks. The song was originally penned and recorded by Bruce Dickinson for the soundtrack to A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child.

Before the release of No Prayer for the Dying, Bruce Dickinson officially launched a solo career alongside Iron Maiden, with Gers as guitarist. Dickinson performed a solo tour in 1991 before returning to the studio with Iron Maiden for the album Fear of the Dark. Released in 1992, the album had several songs which were popular amongst fans, such as the title track and "Afraid to Shoot Strangers".

In 1993 Bruce Dickinson left the band to further pursue his solo career. However, Bruce agreed to stay with the band 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 1975 to 1984, and was released after Bruce had left the band. He played his farewell show with Iron Maiden on August 28, 1993. The show was filmed, broadcast by the BBC, and released on video under the name Raising Hell. Magician Simon Drake performed grisly illusions on the performance, culminating in Dickinson's "death" in an Iron Maiden. However, after Bruce's departure from the band there was a great deal of bad feeling toward him from the other band members.

The band auditioned hundreds of vocalists, both unknown and famous (among them Doogie White of Rainbow), and even offered the position to James LaBrie of Dream Theater but he declined. They finally chose Blaze Bayley in 1994, formerly of Wolfsbane. Bayley had an altogether different style to his predecessor, which received a mixed reception amongst fans. After a three year hiatus, Maiden returned in 1995 with the 70+ minute-long album The X Factor. The album was generally seen as having dark, brooding songs that seemed more melancholy and introspective than usual. Chief songwriter Steve Harris was going through serious personal problems at the time with the break-up of his marriage and the loss of his father and many feel the album's sound is a reflection of this. The 11-minute epic "Sign of the Cross", opening the album, is perhaps the stand-out track, and even Bayley's detractors tend to recognise it as a classic. The first concert supporting the new album took place on September 28, 1995 in Jerusalem, Israel.

The band spent most of 1996 on the road before returning to the studio for Virtual XI (1998). The album contained few notable tracks, with only "The Clansman" and "Futureal" surviving on future tours, and chart positions were observably lower. One of the most criticized tracks was the single "The Angel and the Gambler", which was all that many people heard of the album before deciding not to buy it. Virtual XI failed to reach the one million mark in worldwide sales for the first time, and thus sounded Bayley's death knell.

In February 1999, Bayley left the band, apparently by mutual consent. The main reason for his departure was his inconsistent onstage performance - Blaze's voice was not up to the rigours of a full-on Maiden tour. At the same time, the band shocked their fans when they announced that both Bruce Dickinson and guitarist Adrian Smith were rejoining the band, which meant the classic 1980s lineup was back in place - plus Janick Gers, who would remain. Iron Maiden now had three guitarists for the first time. A successful reunion tour followed.

In 2000, a more progressive period began for the band when they released the 67 minute long album Brave New World. The songs were longer (with all but three of the ten tracks clocking in at over six minutes) and the lyrics spoke about both dark themes and social criticism. The band gained a new fan base when they began exploring the genre of progressive metal with their more classic sound, and the world tour that followed ended in January 2001 with a show at the famous Rock in Rio festival in Brazil, where Iron Maiden played to an impressive crowd of 250,000.

The band continued with their progressive trend with Dance of Death released in 2003. All but two of the eleven tracks chime in at over five minutes, and nearly all have a recurrent theme of death, though not always in a dark manner. While failing to reach Gold status in the United States, the album went platinum in several other countries and left no doubts that the band was still a force to be reckoned with. Both Brave New World and Dance of Death were named "Best Metal Album" of 2000 and 2003 respectively by

In 2005, Iron Maiden announced a tour to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the release of their first album and the 30th anniversary of their formation. The band re-released the "Number of the Beast" single, which went straight to number three in the UK charts. The band hit the road to support the 2004 DVD entitled The Early Days, in which the band celebrates the music mainly from its 1975-1983 period.

Iron Maiden toured the United States with a stint on the 10th anniversary Ozzfest tour, playing before Black Sabbath from July 15 through August 20, 2005. Several nights of the Ozzfest tour saw Iron Maiden headlining due to Ozzy Osbourne experiencing throat problems. Iron Maiden also played several "Off-Fest" dates headlining in places such as Quebec City, Toronto and Denver. During this tour, the band was added to the Hollywood Rockwalk.

At Iron Maiden's last Ozzfest performance (August 20th 2005 at the Hyundai Pavilion at Glen Helen in San Bernardino, CA), the band's sound was turned off several times, eggs were thrown towards the stage, and chants of "Ozzy" were shouted through the PA system. This was the work of Sharon Osbourne, who took to the stage and proceeded to call Bruce Dickinson "a prick" after they performed their encore, followed by a large portion of the crowd booing her off the stage. She officially admitted this in a scathing letter, accusing Bruce of heckling her husband and signing it "The Real Iron Maiden", although claiming not to have any personal vendetta against the band.

Sharon Osbourne's shenanigans appeared to have little effect. As Bruce Dickinson stated before the first few dates of the band's tour in 2006, the row made no difference to ticket sales in the US, and indeed the band's latest album, A Matter of Life and Death, has become the band's first ever top 10 album in the USA.

The band completed its summer tour by headlining the Reading and Leeds weekend festivals on the 26th and 28th August 2005, playing classics from the first four studio albums to a combined audience of approximately 120,000. The final gig took place in London at the famous Hammersmith Odeon (now Apollo) in early September 2005. For the second time, the band played a charity gig for former drummer Clive Burr.

A live album entitled Death on the Road was released on August 30 2005, but the DVD version suffered a bit of delay and was released on the 6th of February 2006. The latter hit the DVD chart at no 1 in UK, Sweden, Italy and Greece and received acclaim from most UK rock magazines.

Iron Maiden's 14th studio album named A Matter of Life and Death was released worldwide on the 28th August 2006 (5th September for the US and Canada). It was preceded by the "The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg" single on August 14. The album was once again produced by Kevin Shirley, and is the longest Iron Maiden album to date.

The band has also recorded four cover tracks for use as b-sides, the first time for over ten years. In an interview with the Greek Metal Hammer magazine, Adrian Smith revealed these to be ZZ Top's "Tush", Deep Purple's "Space Truckin'", Thin Lizzy's "Angel of Death" and Focus's "Hocus Pocus", the latter featuring Nicko McBrain on vocal duties. However, none of these songs ended up as b-sides for the aforementioned single.

The tour in support of the album started on October 4th in Hartford (Connecticut). The North American Leg includes 8 US shows and 3 Canada shows. Then Maiden will move to Japan to play 5 gigs, the first of them on October 25th at the legendary Nippon Budokan and finally they'll start the European leg in Aalborg on November 9th. The European leg will end with 2 nights at London's Earls Court. Whilst Iron Maiden had announced as early as 2003 that they would be cutting back on the length of each tour, the forthcoming tour has been criticised for it missing out many areas usually visited by the band. In particular, the absence of any Eastern European dates (such as Poland, Czech Republic, Greece) despite a strong fan base existing there has been questioned. In addition other countries where Maiden traditionally are very successful (Germany, France, Italy, Spain) are host to only one or two gigs where usually in excess of five are played in each country respectively. Maiden have however announced extensive dates in the UK and Scandinavia, the latter possibly a reward for the area's staggering support for the band on previous tours. Most of the European shows are sold out several months before such as the Scandinavian shows and both nights in Milan.

Touring in South America and possibly Australia has still to be announced and it is expected to follow in early 2007.

Anticipating the release, the official website released two songs in streaming audio on August 10 and 11. The album entered the UK charts at #4 and entered the US charts at #9, while making their best debut in India at #4 and #2 in Canada. This was also the highest chart position any hard rock or metal act has ever reached, let alone debuted in India. The new album made number #1 in Germany, Sweden, Italy, Finland, Greece, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Croatia, Poland and Brazil.

* Bruce Dickinson and Eddie did a public service announcement for British television with "The Seat Belt Dummies" in 1991. The seat belt dummies were in the audience playing air guitar and Eddie is shown. The dummies remark that, "if you don't wear your seatbelt, you may end up looking like this (points to Eddie)". At the end, Bruce says "Don't forget, buckle your safety belt, mate."

* Iron Maiden is referenced prominently in the lyrics to the 2000 hit "Teenage Dirtbag" by American punk-pop group Wheatus. The song tells of a lonely, nerdy teenage boy who secretly yearns for a pretty female classmate, Noelle, while listening to Iron Maiden. Noelle later surprises him by declaring herself to be a "teenage dirtbag" too, and inviting him to join her at an Iron Maiden concert. Bruce Dickinson returned the favour by singing on Wheatus' third single "Wannabe Gangstar".

* The band is mentioned several times in episodes of Beavis and Butt-head. Songs featured include "The Prisoner", "From Here to Eternity", and "Running Free".

* In the film Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989) King Henry VIII demands that the duo be put in the Iron Maiden (referring to the medieval torture device), and Bill and Ted say "Iron Maiden?! Excellent!" and then play a few notes on the air guitar.

* The PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City features "2 Minutes To Midnight" as a song on the radio station "VROCK", the logo of which is also done using the same angular font used in the IRON MAIDEN logo (which has been used by the band since their first album).

* The multi-platform video game Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 features "The Number of the Beast" as a song on the game's soundtrack. The game also includes Eddie as an unlockable skater.

* The upcoming Nintendo Wii video game Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam will have "Different World" as a song on the game's soundtrack.

* The Nickelodeon TV show, "The Fairly Odd Parents," featured a villain called "the Iron Maiden" that fought briefly against Timmy's favorite super hero, "The Crimson Chin." It was made to look like a giant robotic maid. In order to help viewers understand the reference, the Crimson Chin taunts, "Your days of heavy metal terror are over, Iron Maiden!"

Studio Albums

* 1980: Iron Maiden
* 1981: Killers
* 1982: The Number of the Beast
* 1983: Piece of Mind
* 1984: Powerslave
* 1986: Somewhere in Time
* 1988: Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
* 1990: No Prayer for the Dying
* 1992: Fear of the Dark
* 1995: The X Factor
* 1998: Virtual XI
* 2000: Brave New World
* 2003: Dance of Death
* 2006: A Matter of Life and Death

Current Members

* Bruce Dickinson – vocals (1981-1993, 1999-present)
* Dave Murray – guitar (1975-1976, 1977-present)
* Janick Gers – guitar, guitar synth (1990-present)
* Adrian Smith – guitar, backing vocals (1980-1990, 1999-present)
* Steve Harris – bass and keyboards, backing vocals (1975-present)
* Nicko McBrain – drums (1983-present)

Original lineup (1975)

* Paul Day – vocals
* Dave Sullivan – guitar (replaced by Dave Murray after only two months)
* Terry Rance – guitar
* Steve Harris – bass
* Ron Matthews – drumsPermission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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