Sunday Old School: British Heavy Metal Leaders Iron Maiden
Band Photo: Iron Maiden (?)
Where would heavy metal be in a world without Iron Maiden? Love them or loathe them, there's no denying that Iron Maiden is one of the most important bands in the world today; not just in metal, but all of music. They have influenced countless bands and sold millions around the globe and remain as relevant today as they were 30 ago, if not moreso. The band was formed in Leyton, East London by bass player Steve Harris in 1975 and struggled for a good five years before releasing their debut album. They began their success by securing a residency at The Cart and Horses pub where they would attract fans of hard rock that were bored of the popular prog rock bands at the time, but weren't attracted to punk. The band joined forces with a young singer named Paul Di'anno in 1978 and from there began their rise to the top of the emerging New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. They recorded a demo on New Years Eve of that year named, "The Soundhouse Tapes" which sold out within a few weeks and by December the next year, they had signed a major deal with EMI Records. They released their self-titled debut in April 1980 which went straight in the British album charts at number 4 and capitalised on this success by touring with big name hard rock and heavy metal bands such as KISS and Judas Priest (who had just released their classic album, "British Steel" at the time.) Maiden quickly followed this with a second studio album named, "Killers" which featured former Urchin guitarist Adrian Smith, who had replaced guitarist Dennis Stratton. Although "Killers" did not do as well as the previous album in terms of chart success, it did well enough for the band to be booked in the United States, where they were just as well received as they were in England.
The band made another change in the lineup after finishing their tour of America, this time it would be Paul Di'anno who was to find himself sacked. The group hired Samson vocalist Bruce Dickinson after he met with their manager Rod Smallwood at the Reading Festival and the band recorded the album, "The Number Of The Beast" which is considered today as one of the greatest heavy metal albums ever made and propelled Iron Maiden from being a succesful band to rock superstars, topping the charts in the United Kingdom. From there, the band recorded a string of albums which continued to sell well and garner critical acclaim, including "Piece Of Mind" and "Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son." Another lineup change was to occur in 1989 when guitarist Adrian Smith quit the band was replaced by former Gillan axe man Janick Gers. This lineup of the band recorded the album, "No Prayer For The Dying" which not particularly well received by fans, though it did earn the band their first chart topping single in Britain with "Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter." They followed by releasing "Fear Of The Dark" in 1992 which was better received by fans, but not by much. Following this release and two live albums, singer Bruce Dickinson quit to pursue his solo career and was replaced by Wolfsbane vocalist Blaze Bayley. The "Blaze era" of the band produced several outstanding songs but was not met with great enthusiasm from fans of Dickinson's voice, though both albums recorded with Bayley entered album charts around the world.
Blaze Bayley left the band by mutual consent in 1999 and Maiden shocked fans by announcing that not only was guitarist Adrian Smith returning to the band, but so was singer Bruce Dickinson. After a "greatest hits" tour, the band recorded a brand new album named, "Brave New World" which was well received by fans and entered the top ten in the United Kingdom. The band continued to tour relentlessly being supported by such bands as Halford and Queensryche along the way, before releasing another studio album in 2003 entitled, "Dance Of Death" and hitting the road hard once again. Both of these tours supporting these albums received the live album treatment, in the form of 2002's "Rock In Rio" album and 2005's "Death On The Road" set. After a break from touring the band released another album in 2006 entitled, "A Matter Of Life And Death." Although it proved well receieved, the band angered several fans by performing the entire album on the subsequent tour, with only five classic songs in the set list. After touring in support of the album, the band embarked on the "Somewhere Back In Time" tour which saw them focusing on material from their mid 80s catalogue. After a well earned break, the band entered the studios last to record their fiteenth studio album, which recently revealed to be named, "The Final Frontier," fueling rumours that this is to be their last album. Whether it is or not, the legacy that Iron Maiden carved out for themselves is one that rock superstardom is made of and they will forever be considered one of the greatest bands in the history of heavy metal.
Iron Maiden - "Burning Ambition"
Iron Maiden - "Running Free"
Iron Maiden - "The Prisoner"
Iron Maiden - "Aces High"
Iron Maiden - "The Evil That Men Do"
Iron Maiden - "Man On The Edge"
Iron Maiden - "Different World"
Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.
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