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Iron Maiden (or Maiden for short) were founded on Christmas Day 1975 by bassist Steve Harris. Harris had made a name for himself in Temptation/Gypsey's Kiss and Smiler, and after Smiler he had eyes on starting his own band. A few ads in Melody Maker music magazine, and he had a lineup of:
- Paul Day (vocals)
- Terry Rance (guitar)
- Dave Sullivan (guitar)
- Ron 'Rebel' Matthews (drums)
- Steve Harris (bass guitar)
However, the line-up changed frequently over the following four years. Members were fired, or quit for various reasons. Since its beginning, Iron Maiden has had 18 different band members. They made a name for themselves in the East End of London. The first pivotal moment for them was in June 1977, when Dave Murray joined the band - which was now minus Day, Rance and Sullivan. Murray was to become one of the more permanent band members. He was fired in '78 after a tiff with singer Dennis Wilcock (Paul Day's replacement), but joined back a few months later.
It started off with the band doing pub gigs and things like that. As they made a name for themselves, they ended up doing bigger jobs, like the Marquee in 1979. But the big break was when their first album was released in 1980.
By now Iron Maiden had been identified as probably the biggest name in the new music scene, the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM). Manager Rod Smallwood had secured a record deal with EMI, and the self-titled album Iron Maiden was released. It stormed the charts at number three. The lineup by now was:
- Paul Di'Anno (vocals)
- Dave Murray (guitar)
- Dennis Stratton (guitar)
- Clive Burr (drums)
- Steve Harris (bass)
Album two, Killers, didn't do as well as Iron Maiden but was still a success. The tour for that album revealed a problem for the band: Di'Anno. He was a reckless maverick, and the band had known about this before. He would cause trouble and get the band into bad situations. In the Killers tour, he would pretend to be ill and crash out after gigs. Thus the band had to cancel some of the German dates. Eventually Paul was fired (or a 'shock dismissal' as the band called it), and was replaced with Samson's Bruce Dickinson.
The first album recorded with Bruce was The Number Of The Beast, released in 1982. It was their biggest hit yet. It earned them gold albums in the UK and America, and from then on the band was never in any financial trouble. The song 'The Number Of The Beast' was Maiden's first number one hit.
'The Beast On The Road' tour was a gruelling 180 dates over eight months, and was pretty hard on the band. It was hard work for them and they learned a few lessons about touring. It took its toll on drummer Clive Burr, who quit. He was replaced with Nicko McBrain, who has remained with Maiden since. Clive went onto Paul's band, Di'Anno.
In 1985, on the 'World Slavery Tour' (for the Powerslave album), Maiden played to their largest ever crowd. 200 000 people at the Rock In Rio Festival.
Over the 80s, metal became less fashionable and was replaced with more electronic-oriented music. Despite this, Iron Maiden was still able to sell albums, and do massive tours.
As the tours got more elaborate, so did the band's mascot: Eddie. Eddie is a zombie who appears on every Maiden album/single cover, and he's up there with the band all the time. His first incarnation was in the 1970s, when he was a head stuck on a board that had 'Iron Maiden' written on it. When the band played their song 'Iron Maiden' and got to the line 'see the blood flow..' fake blood would spurt out of the head and get in the drummer's hair.
On tour, Eddie was first a bloke with a mask on who ran around scaring everyone. On 'Beast On The Road' he was 9ft tall. Somewhere on tour, an inflatable Eddie lifted Nicko McBrain and his drums up over the rest of the band. Gradually, Eddie got bigger and better...
As time went on band members came and went, but not as often as they did in the 1970s. Adrian was replaced by Janick Gers in 1990, just before No Prayer For The Dying. Adrian went onto a solo career and was in the band Psycho Motel from 1995. In March 1993 Bruce quit. He too followed a solo career, and was in Skunkworks. 1995 Blaze Bayley joined. Blaze was ex-Wolfsbane, who had previously supported Maiden in the 1990 UK tour. In February 1999 Blaze left... to pursue a solo career. Adrian and Bruce re-joined.
More recently Iron Maiden songs have been used on Carmageddon 2 and as the basis of Ed Hunter - both computer games. The group's latest album, Brave New World, came out in late May 2000, early June, along with a single, 'The Wickerman', which was released on 8 May.