Upon leaving his band Smiler in late 1975, bassist Steve Harris formed Iron Maiden in December of the same year, although the band did not have its iconic line up until later. Yes, Iron Maiden's beginnings involving band personnel was a rollercoaster, with short lived stints by vocalists Paul Day and Dennis Wilcock (the latter bringing second longest serving band member guitarist Dave Murray into the band). Guitarists Dave Sullivan and Terry Rance come and go, making way for guitarist Dennis Stratton and in 1980 with drummer Clive Burr and new vocalist Paul Di’Anno being the final pieces, Iron Maiden released their debut self-titled album in 1980.
After the success of their debut album and its follow up Killers, singer Paul Di’Anno found himself struggling with heavy drug usage, the ever-growing success of the band and its associated commitments and in mid-1981 Di’Anno was dismissed. However, this did not slow the band for a second as they had his replacement ready to go. Bruce Dickinson was a former member of the band Samson and September 1981 saw him audition for Iron Maiden - he was hired virtually on the spot. After the recruiting of Dickinson, the new line up played a few shows and with the last of them seeing tracks “22 Acacia Avenue” and “Children Of The Damned” being performed for the first time - a little teaser for the ‘Beast’ the band was about to release upon the world.
In March 1982 Iron Maiden released the heavy metal masterpiece “The Number Of The Beast”, the album which really shot the band into the limelight receiving mass commercial and critical success. The new Iron Maiden line-up had proven to be immensely popular with Bruce Dickinson’s wide vocal range and theatrical/operatic vocal delivery, Murray and Smith’s locked in guitar harmonies, Clive Burrs driving drums and the signature ever-present galloping bass playing of Steve Harris. With tracks “Run To The Hills” and “The Number Of The Beast” as singles for the album together with the heavy metal epic “Hallowed Be Thy Name” which is held by many as one of if not the best heavy metal songs of all time, it is no surprise the album reached number one in the UK Album Charts and sold a unfathomable 2.5 million copies within the first year of its release.
In late 1982 issues within the band saw them part company with drummer Clive Burr (with disputing claims from Steve Harris and Clive Burr how this came to pass) but they already had a replacement in their sights and his name was Nicko McBrain. After McBrain joined the band they went straight in to recording their 4th studio album, “Piece Of Mind” seeing the album released in May 1983. Fronted by singles “Flight OF Icarus” and one of their most commercially popular songs to date “The Trooper”, “Piece Of Mind” is truly where Iron Maiden found the sound that would solidify their status as heavy metal greats.
Following the success of “Piece Of Mind”, seeing it make it to number 3 in the UK Charts and receiving all round favourable reviews, Iron Maiden powered on to make their 5th studio album "Powerslave” which saw them completing a five year hot streak of releasing an album a year for the past five years. The album is home to the near 14 minute epic “Rhyme Of The Ancient Mariner” and with singles “Aces High” and “Two Minutes To Midnight” it’s no surprise that they had another chart success with “Powerslave” reaching number 2 in the UK album charts.
The 1980’s raged on for the band with the releases of “Somewhere In Time” and their second number 1 record “Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son” seeing both have great album chart success and single success respectively with hits such as “Wasted Years” and “Can I Play With Madness”.
Maiden could not be stopped over the next few years with more line up changes in the late 1990’s and a return back to the classic line up again with addition of guitarist Janick Gers. Further album success followed with “Fear Of The Dark”, Iron Maiden are the poster band for longevity within the metal world with more recent album releases such as “The Book Of Souls” in 2015 and “Senjutsu” in 2021, the legacy of the beast will truly last forever.
While Iron Maiden is known for its iconic line up of Bruce Dickinson, Steve Harris, Nicko McBrian, Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Janick Gers, there is truly no other name more synonymous with Iron Maiden than Eddie, the creature that has taken on many forms on every single album cover released by the band. Artist Derek Rigg’s creation is as linked to the band’s success as the music. Eddie always joins the band on stage whether it’s his head spitting blood or locked in a sword fight with singer Bruce Dickinson during “The Trooper” to name but a few antics, he even has his hand print on the Hollywood RockWalk. While he may not play or sing like the rest of the band it's fair to say Iron Maiden would not be Iron Maiden without Eddie.
Is this an easy list to make given their huge 17 studio album discography? Absolutely not but these are a recommendations of must haves for a long time Iron Maiden fan or someone who is just getting started listening.
The album that introduced Bruce Dickinson, “Number Of The Beast” is a piece of heavy metal history and truly put Iron Maiden on the map with their signature galloping bass lines, guitar harmonies and signature vocal style with tracks such as “Run To The Hills”, “The Number Of The Beast” and “Hallowed Be Thy Name” you simply cannot miss out on this album.
“Powerslave” showed a progression in sound for the band whilst still staying true to the sound they are known for with tracks “Aces High” and “Two Minutes To Midnight". Also experimenting with longer tracks and more progressive sounds with “Rime Of The Ancient Mariner” showing huge musical maturity in sound, another heavy metal classic.
“Fear Of The Dark” defines Iron Maiden's sound in the 1990’s, the last album released before Bruce Dickinson’s hiatus from the band. It saw them become more experimental with faster thrash inspired tracks such as “Be Quick Or Be Dead” and even having a power ballad of sorts with “Wasting Love”. This album provides something a bit different to their 1980’s sound but is still Iron Maiden all the way.
The return of Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith and a return to form for the band “Brave New World” is the first time Iron Maiden performed as an official 6-piece band adding three part guitar harmonies to their arsenal. Tracks “The Wicker Man”, “Out Of The Silent Planet” and “The Thin Line Between Love And Hate” are true stand out tracks on this record and proof that Iron Maiden haven’t “still got it” but that they never lost it to begin with.
“Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son” is regarded by many as Iron Maidens true magnum opus taking everything they’d built on musically over the years, the progressive rock influences for long winding songs, complexity with the use of keyboards which was a first for the band and the lyrical work for this concept album (based on the book “Seventh Son” by Orson Scott Card) was truly sublime, the best way to listen to this album is from beginning to end uninterrupted, but “Can I Play With Madness”, “Only The Good Die Young” and “The Evil That Men Do” are stand outs.
Iron Maiden are truly one of the most legendary metal bands in history, a starred career with countless records and hit songs, their influence on the genre is still being felt and will be for years to come.
If you’re looking for some Iron Maiden to add to your collection, we hope we can provide what you are looking for.