Iron Maiden

  • British heavy metal band formed in 1975 from London England. There have been over twenty members over the years, but the primary members were Bruce Dickinson (lead vocals), Dave Murray (guitars), Adrian Smith (guitars, backing vocals), Steve Harris (bass guitar, keyboards, backing vocals, songwriting) and Nicko McBrain (drums). Janick Gers was added as a guitarist in 1990. All of these musicians remain with the band today.
  • Harris is the only original member of the group. Harris bought his first bass guitar when he was 15 years old, and he taught himself how to play. He joined a band ten months later. At 18 years old, he joined a band called Smiler, but quit when they refused to play the music that he had written. On Christmas day 1975, he formed the band with Paul Day on vocals, Dave Sullivan and Terry Rance on guitars on Ron Matthews on drums. He named the band Iron Maiden, inspired by the film The Man In the Iron Mask, which reminded him of the torture device known as the Iron Maiden.
  • Members of the band quickly came and went in the early years. Before they were signed to a recording contract in late 1979, the group had three different lead vocalists, nine guitarists, and three drummers, in addition to Harris on bass guitar. For their debut self-titled album in 1980, Paul Di’Anno handled lead vocals, Dave Murray was on lead guitar, Dennis Stratton performed rhythm guitar and Clive Burr was on drums, along with Harris. The album sold well in the UK, with their first single Running Free reaching #34 on the UK Singles chart. They developed a heavy metal style that featured harmony guitars (hence the need for multiple guitarists), a progressive rock touch, heavy riffs and an aggressive tempo.
  • Their second album, Killers, was released in 1981, with Smith joining the group on guitars. The band played 45 shows in North America to promote the album, and Killers was their first to chart on the Billboard 200 album chart, peaking at #78. Their next four albums, released from 1982 to 1986, all received platinum status in the U.S., as Iron Maiden established themselves as one of the most popular metal bands globally. Their 1982 album The Number of the Beast was their first to feature Dickinson on vocals. Drummer McBrain joined for 1983’s Piece of Mind album, and their long running lineup was complete. This album had their first single to chart in the U.S. – Flight of Icarus reached #8 on the Billboard Top Albums Tracks chart. It also included The Trooper, which peaked at #28 on the Mainstream Rock chart.
  • Typical of heavy metal bands, Iron Maiden songs got little radio play, and thus most of their work did not chart. But fans of heavy metal flocked to see the group perform. During the 80s, they had eight different concert tours, playing over 1,000 shows. Smith left the band in 1990 and he was replaced by Gers. In 1993, Dickinson decided to leave the group to focus on his solo career. He was replaced by Blaze Bayley, and albums were released in 1995 and 1998 with Bayley handling lead vocals. In January 1999, Bayley was asked to leave the group, as he had struggled to sing throughout their tour the previous year. Dickinson agreed to rejoin the group, and Smith soon returned after Dickinson. Iron Maiden decided to retain Gers (who had replaced Smith nine years earlier), and the band became a sextet. The three guitarists were called “the Three Amigos”, and their reunion tour in 1999 was a huge success.
  • Iron Maiden released six studio albums between 2000 and 2021. Two topped the UK album charts and four reached the top ten in the U.S. They also released nine live albums, as their concert performances always were popular.
  • Despite little radio or television exposure, Iron Maiden was one of the pre-eminent metal bands. Early to the scene, their influence can be seen through hundreds of other artists. They won their only Grammy award in 2011 for the single El Dorado, winning the Best Metal Performance Grammy. Two of their albums made Rolling Stones’ 2020 list of the 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time, with The Number of the Beast coming in at #4. Metal bands historically have a hard time getting into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – I think it is inevitable that someday they will be called. Here’s the video to their high energy rocker The Number of the Beast.

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