The story of Iron Maiden begins in 1971, when 15 year old Steve
Harris, inspired by the likes of Wishbone Ash, Jethro Tull and early Genesis
bought a copy Telecaster bass for the then princely sum of £40. Steve
had previously harboured visions of one day playing soccer for his beloved West
Ham and was actually signed to them on schoolboy forms. However, the talent
pool in the Hammer's youth organisation in those days was overflowing and the
number of players who actually made it into the professional game were very
few. The continuous playing and training regime also meant that that young Harry
couldn't join his mates in drinking, watching bands and pulling girls. After
thinking long and hard, he abandoned hopes of a soccer career and built up a
strong liking and knowledge of rock music. He taught himself how to play by
playing along to his favourite records and jamming with friends. This led to
the formation of a band called Influence who then changed their name to Gypsy's
The Gypsies made their debut at a talent contest in Poplar, lasting all of
six gigs before calling it a day. Steve fired by a burning ambition hooked up
with a band called Smiler. The other band members were several years older than
him, Steve picked up some valuable experience but still felt stifled. Smiler
were a "good time boogie " band and although they played an early
version of "Innocent Exile", they turned down "Burning Ambition"
and made it clear that they didn't expect their bass player to leap around the
stage and write songs. Steve finally realised that the only way to do what he
wanted was to put his own band together and at the end of 1975, Iron Maiden
was born. Steve got the name from seeing an Iron Maiden in an old movie of "The
Man In The Iron Mask". It was a metal coffin with spikes on the inside
and the victims were placed inside it and skewered to death.
In the spring of 1976, the band secured a residency at The Cart and Horses
pub in Stratford in London's East End. The first couple of gigs went okay, but
Steve still felt there was something missing. Vocalist Paul Day was replaced
by ex-Smiler songsmith Dennis Wilcock and he recommended a talented young guitarist
by the name of Dave Murray. This put the back up of the resident guitarists
Terry Rance and Paul Sullivan who took it as an insult to their talent and departed.
Bob Sawyer, who used the name Bob D'Angelo, was recruited as second guitarist
and with Ron Rebel on drums the first proper Maiden line-up came into being.
As well as the Cart the band began to get gigs all over East London, building
up a strong local following. After six months, the line- up changed again. Bob
left as instead of trying to complement Dave's guitar - Bob kept trying to compete
with him - a strict no-contest. Then, after a row at The Bridgehouse, Den fired
Dave who went off to join Urchin, his old mate Adrian Smith's band.
With all the hassles, the band decided to temporarily abandon the twin guitars
concept and Terry Wapram joined as sole guitarist and Tony Moore was recruited
on keyboards. Ron Rebel had decided he couldn't handle the aggravation and also
left to be replaced by Barry Purkis - who would later call himself Thunderstick.
The new line-up played one gig at The Bridgehouse and it was painfully obvious
that keyboards were not the answer. Exit Moore followed by Wapram who claimed
he couldn't play without keyboards! Steve went down to an Urchin gig and persuaded
Davey to rejoin the Maiden fold. Den. then quit just before a gig in South London
and when Thunderstick also left, things looked bleak. Steve recruited ex-Smiler
drummer Doug Sampson and while the three of them rehearsed they looked for a
new singer. Eventually, a mate of Steve's recommended Paul Di'Anno. Paul passed
his audition with flying colours and the band set about their comeback. Things
were difficult at first as in 1977 the Punk / New Wave revolution was in full
swing and most of the venues were only booking new wave acts. The record companies
felt the same. The band did receive offers, if they were prepared to cut their
hair and go punk. Needless to say you can guess Harry's answer.
By late 1978, the situation had improved enough to allow the band to work
to make their comeback and get regular gigs. They realised that they needed
a demo and so on New Year's Eve they were in Spaceward Studios near Cambridge
recording "Prowler", "Invasion", "Strange World"
and "Iron Maiden". The £200 cost of the recording session was
all that they had and so the band couldnÕt buy the master tape. When
they went back a couple of weeks later to pay for the tape and mix, the tape
had been wiped, leaving them with just the cassettes from the original session
unedited and unmixed. Dave gave his copy to Neal Kay, a DJ with a passionate
love of hard rock who held regular rock nights at The Soundhouse, which adjoined
the Bandwagon pub in Kingsbury, North London. The band were now finding it easier
to book gigs and gained a residency at The Ruskin Arms in Manor Park. Neal played
the tape at one of his Soundhouse nights and was astonished at the reaction.
It became the most requested item for months and Maiden began to play there.
The demo tape had also come to the attention of Rod Smallwood. A rugby mate
of Rod's, who also worked with Steve, passed the tape on, and after listening
to it and checking the band out, offered his services as manager. Rod arranged
gigs all over the country to allow the band to build-up a nation-wide following
and arranged gigs in or near central London to get record companies to check
out Maiden. One such gig was at The Marquee on October 13th. John Darnley came
from EMI to see Maiden and Rod had a side bet with the Marquee manager that
the gig would sell-out (700 fans) by 7pm. Rod won his bet and EMI signed Iron
Maiden the following month. In the summer, Maiden had been featured in the music
paper "Sounds". It was in this feature that Geoff Barton who would
later go on to found "Kerrang!" coined the phrase "The New Wave
Of British Heavy Metal". Maiden also made their debut at The Music Machine
in Camden as special guests to Motorhead who were playing under the name of
"Iron Fist And The Hordes From Hell". Before the year was out the
band would play the Music Machine twice more - as headliners.
In the meantime, the band, who had been deluged with requests for copies of
the demo tape from fans decided to put it out on their own Rock Hard label.
The 7" EP was christened "The Soundhouse Tapes" and to keep it
special for the hard-core fans was only sold at gigs and by mail-order. The
6000 copies sold-out almost immediately making it an instant collectors item.
Despite requests from major chainstores for the record the band decided to keep
it as something special for their fans. In between gigs, the band went into
EMI's Manchester Square studios to record "Sanctuary" and "Wrathchild"
for a compilation LP called "Metal For Muthas". They also recorded
four songs for Radio One's "The Friday Rock Show". Guitarist Tony
Parsons came in as second guitarist to make it a five-piece again.
Over the Christmas period, the band underwent more line-up changes. Doug Sampson
had to quit for health reasons and Parsons, who always appeared bored on stage,
got the elbow. Clive Burr and Dennis Stratton took over on drums and guitar.
The band then got down to recording their first album with Will Malone in the
producer's chair. In February 1980, while the band went out on the "Metal
For Muthas" tour to promote the compilation, their first single "Running
Free" was released. It totally exceeded record company expectations entering
the UK charts at No.44 and earning the band an invitation to appear on BBC TV's
"Top Of The Pops". The band accepted - but only if they could play
live - the first band since The Who eight years earlier. Surprisingly the BBC
agreed. On April 14th the band's debut album "Iron Maiden" was released
rocketing straight into the charts at No.4! Maiden, who had followed "Metal
For Mouths" with a guest slot on the Judas Priest "British Steel"
UK Tour, began their own fully fledged headline UK Tour playing some 40-odd
dates in just under two months They also appeared again at the Marquee, including
a run of four consecutive nights all totally sold-out.
In August, the band were invited by U.S mega-stars Kiss to support them on
their European Tour and to play at Reading on the Saturday night as special
guests to UFO, giving Steve the opportunity to play on the same bill as UFO's
Pete Way, one of his all-time heroes. With Kiss, the two bands got on famously
and Maiden's following on the continent grew immensely. Maiden did not play
on the UK dates having just finished their UK tour and so took a week off to
holiday in the Italian sun. On returning from the KISS tour it was announced
that due to "musical differences" Dennis was leaving the band. Dennis's
taste in music was quite different from the rest of the band and his ideas were
not in line with where the band wanted to go and so a parting of the ways was
necessary. The split was acrimonious at first, but nowadays Dennis and the band
are good friends and Dennis manages The Cart and Horses. The band did not have
very far to look for a replacement and Adrian Smith joined the fold. The band
had actually approached Adrian before Dennis, but as Urchin seemed to be happening
H decided to stick it out. A mini-UK tour was hastily arranged to break Adrian
in. Then they began work on a new album with Martin Birch producing. They broke
off from recording to play a special Christmas gig at London's Rainbow Theatre,
which was filmed for future video release. The capacity crowd were given an
early Christmas present when the second half of the show had to be played all
over again due to problems with the sound recording. Nobody left early!
The "Killers" album came out in February '81 as the band embarked
on their first World Tour. It charted in the UK at No.12 and earned the band
gold discs from several major territories. As well as Europe, the "Killer"
World Tour took in first-time visits to Canada, America and Japan. A live EP
featuring performances recorded in Japan was released called "Maiden Japan".
In March a 30 minute video of the Rainbow Christmas show came out. As the "Killer"
tour came to an end, it was clear that Paul Di'Anno's days were numbered. He
had believed in living the rock and roll lifestyle to the full, despite warnings
from the rest of the band, Rod and doctors - damaging his vocal chords and his
health. He had also begun to turn away from the out and out hard rock played
by Maiden towards a bluesier, Whitesnake-like style. Once more a replacement
was close at hand. Bruce Bruce of fellow UK rockers Samson was becoming disenchanted
at that band's drift towards the kind of music that ironically Paul was embracing
and so he auditioned for Maiden and was in, reverting to his normal name of
Dickinson. A few hastily-arranged dates in Italy introduced Bruce to Maiden
and he made a triumphant UK debut at The Rainbow, the band also took the opportunity
to play some new songs currently being recorded for the new album. Bruce was
christened "the air-raid siren" by the fans due to his powerful vocals.
The year ended with Maiden returning to The Ruskin Arms under the thinly disguised
alter-ego of Genghis Khan to a play a charity / Dave Murray birthday bash. If
1981 could be viewed as a successful year for Maiden, then 1982 exceeded all
expectations. The band were already engaged in a sell-out British leg of "The
Beast On The Road" tour when the first single from the new album - "Run
To The Hills" reached No.7 in the UK Charts. The new album "The Number
Of The Beast" blew away the competition to enter the UK chart at No.1 and
going Top 10 across Europe. It also charted in the US and Canadian charts. "The
Beast On The Road" tour lived up to it's name with the band playing 180
dates in eight months. Once again the band broke new ground visiting Australia
and New Zealand for the first time and on June 29th, they played their first
sold out headline gig in the US at New York's Palladium. In August, the band
broke off from their US Tour and flew back to the UK to perform at The Reading
Festival in front of 35,000 fans. At the end of the tour, another casualty in
the Maiden line-up was Clive Burr. A series of personal problems and the gruelling
Iron Maiden schedule took it's toll and so in January 1983, the band flew to
Nassau to record the next album with one Nicko McBrain in the drummer's chair.
The band had met Nicko during the UK leg of the "Killer" tour when
he played with French rockers Trust who had supported Maiden. In America, the
band were branded Satanists by a small band of ill-informed, self opinionated
individuals who had totally missed the point. Their accusations - totally untrue
-gaining the band more publicity.
Drummer, raconteur and all-round headcase, Nicko received his baptism of fire
during the recording of "Piece Of Mind" in Nassau. The band took time
out from recording to film a promo video for the forthcoming single "Flight
Of Icarus", the script called for someone to wear blue make-up and dress
in monk's robes. Nicko as the new boy volunteered for the role. In May, the
new album came out and entered the UK Charts at No.3 and the band began the
"World Piece Tour" at Hull City Hall. The tour was once again a world-wide
affair with the band achieving major status throughout the countries that they
played.. In the U.S, they were playing to larger and larger audiences and selling
out almost everywhere. The tour came to an end in front of a Europe-wide TV
audience in Dortmund. As a climax to the show, the band viciously attacked the
walking Eddie. Apparently, they had been having thoughts about dispensing with
the services of their monster mascot, but fortunately the reports of Eddie's
demise were grossly exaggerated and he was back on record covers and stages
the following year. The band went into the New Year, with a stable line-up,
facing the prospect of their busiest year yet.
1984, opened with a confident (but not complacent) Iron Maiden having a three
week break before starting work on the new album. It was rehearsed in Jersey
and once again recorded in Nassau. By the time "Powerslave" hit the
streets in September, the band were already three weeks into the gruelling "World
Slavery Tour" pushing the boundaries ever onwards, the band opened the
tour in Poland - the first time ever that a major rock act had played there
with a full western stage production. The band also played in Hungary, and Yugoslavia
and the groundbreaking "Iron Maiden Behind The Iron Curtain" tour
was a huge success and earned the attention of the world's media. In those days
with the Iron Curtain still firmly in place, a tour of those countries was a
major undertaking. The whole tour was also filmed for a documentary which was
released later in the year as "Behind The Iron Curtain". From Eastern
Europe, the band returned via Italy to the UK, where the "Powerslave"
album was released and went straight to No.2. The album featured the most elaborate
artwork so far and the massive stageshow reflected this. Maiden played four
nights at Hammersmith Odeon, including one night with spoof rockers Bad News
for charity. Eddie was now a twenty feet tall monster appearing at the end of
the song "Iron Maiden". The tour was an overwhelming success, the
band were at the height of their powers, the stage show was awesome and the
merchandise receipts broke records at many venues. The band interrupted the
U.S. leg of the tour and made their first visit to South America when they played
in front of an estimated 200,000 people at the "Rock In Rio" festival.
The highlight of the U.S. tour was at Long Beach Arena in Southern California
when Iron Maiden became the first band to sell-out four consecutive nights -
a total audience of 52,000.The Long Beach shows were filmed with the view to
releasing another live video, and live album capturing the band at their very
best. The tour came to an exhausting conclusion in July 1985. With a double
live album and live video due for release in the autumn, the band could at last
take their first real holiday for five years and they needed it. The live album
and video both called "Live After Death" came out in October, the
album charted at No.2 and the video was in the best-selling music video charts
The new album "Somewhere In Time" was recorded in Nassau and Munich
and was released in September 1986. It charted in the UK at No.3 and went gold
or platinum in every major territory. To promote the album, the band went "Somewhere
On Tour". The new album showed a marked change in the band's style with
the use of synthesisers as background on several songs. However, any fans who
feared it could water down Maiden's style needed only to listen to the likes
of "Heaven Can Wait" or "Alexander The Great". The tour
once again began with a visit behind the Iron Curtain, commencing in Belgrade
and finishing a mere eight months later in Osaka. The stage show was once again
spectacular, Eddie had now been turned into a cyborg and the climax of the show
saw the entire band being lifted into the air while a giant inflatable Eddie
head and claws appeared. The band were also filmed and interviewed for a video
documentary released in 1987 entitled "Twelve Wasted Years" - a video
chronicle of their rise to the top featuring previously unseen archive footage
and interviews with key people involved in the Iron Maiden success. With the
tour successfully completed it was time to start thinking about the next album.
"Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son" was an epic masterpiece of an album
- it marked the first and (so far) only time that Iron Maiden have recorded
a "concept" album. This wasn't originally the idea, but as the band
wrote and rehearsed, the songs seemed to be linked by a common theme. The cover
artwork also showed a marked change, being more subdued in style that anything
previously seen. The "Seventh Tour Of A Seventh Tour" also broke with
Maiden tradition., beginning in the U.S and being made up of a combination of
arenas and festivals. The high spot of the entire tour came in August when Maiden
headlined at the legendary "Monsters Of Rock" festival at Donington.
Supported by one of the strongest bills ever seen at the festival (Kiss, David
Lee Roth, Megadeth, Guns and Roses & Helloween), the band played before
an all-time record crowd for the event of 102,000. Maiden played a blistering
set and the stage show was fantastic, climaxing with a massive fireworks display.
The band then took the "Monsters.." shows to Europe, before ending
the tour on home territory with a series of arena shows - the first time that
the band had played such large venues in the UK. The two nights at Birmingham
NEC - arguably the best non- festival shows of the tour were filmed for a new
live video which would be co-directed and edited by Steve Harris. The tour came
to an end on 12th December back at Hammersmith Odeon - the scene of so many
previous Maiden triumphs. With no album scheduled for 1989, the band were able
to look forward to a real break to recharge their batteries and spend some real
time with their families.
Bruce and Adrian "rested" by recording solo albums, while Steve
spent most of his time editing the Birmingham footage. The band did finally
get together again in November 1989 for the release of the video "Maiden
England". EMI and Sanctuary threw a lavish launch party with a strong British
theme, the hall was decked out with Union Jacks and the invited representatives
of the world's media dined on fish and chips and drank bitter, while the band
spent their time being photographed and interviewed. "Maiden England"
was once again a best seller amongst music videos.
In January 1990, the band assembled at Steve's to start work on "No Prayer
For The Dying". Work had barely begun when, for the first time in seven
years there was a personnel change. Adrian fresh from his solo album, revealed
that he wasn't sure that he could still give Maiden 100 percent and so by mutual
consent left the band. Fortunately, the solution was once again close at hand.
Janick Gers who was well-known to the band having played with Gillan among others
and who had recently worked with Bruce on his solo album and tour was auditioned
and invited to join. The recording of the album continued on schedule. For the
first time since "Beast" the band recorded the album on home soil,
at Steve's own studio in a converted barn on the side of his house in Essex.
The content of the album took on a more serious feel, as the band's lyrics began
to deal with contemporary issues. The album cover and packaging artwork had
a more sinister look about it, The album was released on October 1st 1990 and
debuted at No.2 in the UK chart. After not treading the boards for almost two
years, the band were raring to get out and play live again. The "No Prayer
On The Road" tour got underway with a "secret" gig in Milton
Keynes on 19th September 1990. After the mammothh production of the previous
tour, it was a back-to-basics approach this time around with a minimum of stage
set and lighting. It ably demonstrated that Maiden could put on a great show
in their own right without having to be surrounded by mega-watts of sound and
light and a big-budget production. Janick also made a big difference live, his
high-energy enthusiasm and on-stage antics rubbed off on everyone, especially
Davey. The band and their fans enjoyed being close to each other again, feeding
off each other's enthusiasm reminiscent of the earlier days. The tour ended
in Salt Lake City in March 1991. It was originally scheduled to carry on to
Japan and Australia, but the travel and hipping difficulties presented by the
outbreak of the Gulf War brought about the premature end.
When it came time to think about the new album, the band and management decided
that Eddie needed a change of image for the 1990's. From comic-book horror it
was decided that Eddie should be more straightforward horror and to that end
Derek Riggs and several other artists were invited to submit ideas of how they
saw the "new" Eddie and a design submitted by Melvyn Grant was selected.
The album "Fear Of The Dark" was released in May 1992 as the band
opened the "Fear Of The Dark" tour in Scandinavia. The album gave
the band their third UK No.1. Iron Maiden were once again asked to play at Donington
in August. The band played an even stronger show than in 1988. They knew what
to expect this time around and so were less effected by nerves. The entire show
was filmed for a live video to be released the following year. Several shows
were also taped for a future live album. The stage show was more elaborate although
not to the excess of '88 and Eddie appeared as a giant tree creature as per
the album cover. The tour ended on November 4th and as the band flew home from
Japan, they were unaware of the bombshell that was about to be dropped in March
Bruce had been thinking for some time about leaving Iron Maiden. Always a
workaholic, Bruce had several projects on the go outside of Maiden and with
a young family, the demands on his time were reaching saturation point. Something
had to give and Bruce felt he'd gone as far as he could with Iron Maiden. It
had been decided that rather than release a double live album as they had with
"Live After Death" the new live set would be released as two separate
albums. The first would feature material from the band's post LAD period, while
the second would feature more vintage material. The fans then had a choice of
purchasing both albums or just material from either era. As the first live album
- "A Real Live One" approached and the band prepared for the "Real
Live Tour" they advertised for a replacement for Bruce - with the result
that they were flooded with thousands of tapes CD's and videos from the hopeful
to the hopeless. Meanwhile, the band visited Moscow. The reception the band
received from the happy Russian headbangers was amazing. Once the tour was complete
it was time to sit down and sift through the myriad of demos from prospective
singers. Bruce was given a suitably grisly send-off at the end of "Raising
Hell" a pay-per-view magic and music show featuring TV magician Simon Drake
which was televised live around the world.
After an intensive search, it was announced at the end of the year that Bruce's
successor was to be Blaze Bayley from Wolfsbane. Wolfsbane had supported Iron
Maiden on their 1990 UK Tour and so the band had the opportunity to see Blaze
in action and knew what he was capable of. Blaze was favourite from the start
and after listening to all the tapes and holding auditions no one cropped up
that the band felt would be more suitable. Once all the hoop-la of Blaze's joining
had died down, the band set about a period of intensive rehearsals so that they
and Blaze could get used to each other and then start work on the new album.
The band not only had a new singer, but also a new producer. For the first
time since 1980, a Maiden studio album would not be produced or co-produced
by Martin Birch. Since the mid 80's Martin had been in semi-retirement only
returning to the mixing desk for Maiden. Now he had decided to completely retire.
It was decided that Steve would share the producer's chair with Nigel Green.
Nigel had originally been the tape operator on the "Killers" and "Beast"
albums, having since gone on to become a top-flight producer in his own right.
The new album took over a year to complete. The importance of the album meant
that every step was taken to ensure that everything was just right. The new
album was christened "The X Factor" as in X - the unknown. It finally
hit the streets in October 1995 with the "X Factour" beginning shortly
The tour opened with dates in Israel and South Africa - the band's first time
in either country and the experience and the welcome from the local fans made
the band want to return there next time. They were also supposed to play in
Beirut, but the Lebanese government withdrew their visas and even intervention
through diplomatic channels failed to change their minds. The band took advantage
of the unexpected lull to fly back to the UK to do MTV's "Most Wanted".
They then flew to Romania behind the former Iron Curtain to undertake the first
COMPREHENSIVE tour of Eastern Europe (Bulgaria, Slovenia, Hungary, Poland, Czech
Rebublic, Romania). Any doubts as to Blaze's ability and fan reaction were laid
to rest as the band received a warm welcome from all the fans, especially at
home. The Brixton show was one of the best of all-time. The band were fired
up and so was the crowd. In the lead-up to Christmas and early in the New Year
Maiden played in Western Europe before moving on to America, Canada and Japan.
In the summer the band played European festivals and toured South America including
headlining the "Monsters Of Rock" in front of 50,000 in Sao Paulo