Origin – Leyton, London, England, UK
Genres – Heavy metal
Years active – 1975–present
Website – ironmaiden.com
Iron Maiden are an English heavy metal band formed in Leyton, East London, in 1975 by bassist and primary songwriter Steve Harris. The band’s discography has grown to thirty-eight albums, including sixteen studio albums, twelve live albums, four EPs, and seven compilations.
Pioneers of the new wave of British heavy metal, Iron Maiden achieved initial success during the early 1980s. After several line-up changes, the band went on to release a series of UK and US platinum and gold albums, including 1982’s The Number of the Beast, 1983’s Piece of Mind, 1984’s Powerslave, 1985’s live release Live After Death, 1986’s Somewhere in Time and 1988’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. Since the return of lead vocalist Bruce Dickinson and guitarist Adrian Smith in 1999, the band have undergone a resurgence in popularity, with their 2010 studio offering, The Final Frontier, peaking at No. 1 in 28 countries and receiving widespread critical acclaim. Their sixteenth studio album, The Book of Souls, was released on 4 September 2015 to similar success.
Despite little radio or television support, Iron Maiden are considered one of the most successful heavy metal bands in history, with The Sunday Times reporting in 2017 that the band have sold over 100 million copies of their albums worldwide. The band won the Ivor Novello Award for international achievement in 2002. As of October 2013, the band have played over 2000 live shows throughout their career. For over 35 years the band have been supported by their famous mascot, “Eddie”, who has appeared on almost all of their album and single covers, as well as in their live shows.
Steve Harris, Iron Maiden’s bassist and primary songwriter, has stated that his influences include Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Uriah Heep, Pink Floyd, Genesis, Yes, Jethro Tull, Thin Lizzy, UFO and Wishbone Ash. In 2010 Harris stated, “I think if anyone wants to understand Maiden’s early thing, in particular the harmony guitars, all they have to do is listen to Wishbone Ash’s Argus album. Thin Lizzy too, but not as much. And then we wanted to have a bit of a prog thing thrown in as well, because I was really into bands like Genesis and Jethro Tull. So you combine all that with the heavy riffs and the speed, and you’ve got it.” In 2004, Harris explained that the band’s “heaviness” was inspired by “Black Sabbath and Deep Purple with a bit of Zeppelin thrown in.” On top of this, Harris developed his own playing style, which guitarist Janick Gers describes as “more like a rhythm guitar,” cited as responsible for the band’s galloping style, heard in such songs as “The Trooper” and “Run to the Hills.”
The band’s guitarists, Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, and Janick Gers, each have their own individual influences and playing style. Dave Murray is known for his legato technique which, he claims, “evolved naturally. I’d heard Jimi Hendrix using legato when I was growing up, and I liked that style of playing.” Stating that he “was inspired by blues rock rather than metal,” Adrian Smith was influenced by Johnny Winter and Pat Travers, leading to him becoming a “melodic player.” Janick Gers, on the other hand, prefers a more improvised style, largely inspired by Ritchie Blackmore, which he claims is in contrast to Smith’s “rhythmic” sound.
Singer Bruce Dickinson, who typically works in collaboration with guitarist Adrian Smith, has an operatic vocal style, inspired by Arthur Brown, Peter Hammill, Ian Anderson and Ian Gillan, and is often considered to be one of the best heavy metal vocalists of all time. Although Nicko McBrain has only received one writing credit, on the Dance of Death album, Harris often relies on him while developing songs. Adrian Smith commented, “Steve loves playing with him. [They] used to work for hours going over these bass and drum patterns.”
Throughout their career, the band’s style has remained largely unchanged.