Formed in Leyton, East London in 1975, Iron Maiden is a heavy metal band that released over thirty-nine albums throughout their career, including twelve live albums, sixteen studio albums, seven compilation albums, and twelve live albums. Even if the band experienced several line-up changes, they still managed to achieved success during the 1980s including gold and platinum albums. And despite having little radio and television exposure, Iron Maiden is still considered as one of the most successful heavy metal bands ever. The band reportedly sold over 100 million records worldwide and they have played over 2000 live shows. In this article, we are going to take a look at the contributions of Iron Maiden in the music industry.
Formation and Early Days
Iron Maiden was formed by their bassist Steve Harris in East London in 1975. The band’s line-up was constantly changing during its early years but in 1978, the band eventually settled on guitarist Dave Murray, drummer Doug Sampson, and vocalist Paul Di’ Anno. During that same year, the band record and released a four-song demo which circulated to club owners until it landed to the hands of their soon-to-be manager, Ron Smallwood. The four-song demo tape led to the self-release of Iron Maiden’s The Soundhouse Tapes EP in 1979 which sold over 5,000 copies. After this, Iron Maiden scored a record deal with EMI Records and it was also during this time when the band decided to add Dennis Stratton to the group as their second guitarist. That same year, Doug Sampson decided to leave the group because of health issues and he was replaced by Clive Burr who was a former drummer for the band called Samson.
In 1980, Iron Maiden released their self-titled debut studio album and even if it was recorded in a hurry, it still became a hit in the United Kingdom all thanks to the single entitled Running Free. The following year, the band released their second studio album called Killers. This was also the time when Dennis Stratton decided to leave the group and he was replaced by Dave Murray’s childhood friend, Adrian Smith. On the other hand, Paul Di’ Anno was removed from the band after their Killer World Tour because of drug addiction issue. Di’ Anno was replaced by Bruce Dickinson who also came from the band Samson.
In 1982, Iron Maiden released their third studio album called The Number of the Beast which became a groundbreaking hit that features the song entitled Hallowed Be Thy Name. The album was hailed as one of the greatest rock albums of all time. Even if this was Iron Maiden’s first chart-topping album in the UK and other countries, Conservative politicians in the United States and Christian activists were quick to judge that Iron Maiden was a satanic band, to which Iron Maiden denied. Yet, the album’s success gave Iron Maiden international fame.
As a follow up to their third album’s success, Iron Maiden released their fourth album called Piece of Mind in 1983. With this album, Iron Maiden removed Clive Burr as their drummer and replaced him with Nicko McBrain who used to be a drummer for the band called Trust. The band embarked on two major tours to promote their album before they recorded their fifth album called Powerslave which was released in 1984. The album became another cult hit and it featured the 13-minute ling song entitled The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. The band went on the Powerslave tour for eleven months which was filmed for their double-live album entitled Live After Death which also featured their hit songs.
After five albums and a live album, Iron Maiden was now a unique and powerful metal band. And in 1986, they released their sixth studio album called Somewhere in Time which featured synthesized guitar and bass along with futuristic themes. Iron Maiden continued to expand their music and subject matter with the release of their seventh studio album entitled Seventh Son of a Seventh Son in 1988. This is another concept album that featured the hit singles The Clairvoyant and The Evil That Men Do. This was the first album where Iron Maiden used keyboards and it was also the band’s most critically acclaimed album since their third album, The Number of the Beast.
Two years after the release of their seventh album, Iron Maiden went back to the studio to work on their new album but this was also the time when Adrian Smith left the band because of creative differences. He was replaced by Janick Gers who joined the band just in time for the recording of their eighth album called No Prayer for the Dying which was released in 1990. On this album, it was very evident that Iron Maiden returned to their stripped-down sound of the early 1980s. No Prayer for the Dying gave Iron Maiden their first number one U.K hit song with Bring Your Daughter… To the Slaughter.
The band embarked on a tour to further promote their album but at the end of their tour, Dickinson spoke his desire to leave the band and pursue his solo music. Though Dickinson still manages to record Iron Maiden’s ninth album in 1992 called Fear of the Dark and he still toured with the band before ultimately leaving in 1993. That same year, Iron Maiden released two live albums: A Real Live One which featured the band’s concurrent hit songs, and A Real Dead One which focused on the band’s classic songs.
After the release of their two live albums, Iron Maiden decided to take some time off from recording and touring. They went back in 1995 with the release of their tenth album entitled The X Factor which also featured Iron Maiden’s new vocalist, Blaze Bayley. The X Factor didn’t perform well in the market compared to the band’s previous albums but it still managed to be a success in England. In 1998, Iron Maiden released their eleventh studio album entitled Virtual XI which unfortunately was the band’s lowest-selling album. After a year, Blaze Bayley decided to leave the band because he was having issues with his voice. After that, Adrian Smith and Bruce Dickenson returned to the band and Iron Maiden released their twelfth album entitled Brave New World after a year.
Throughout the 2000s, Iron Maiden remained strengthened and they still toured and record consistently just like they did in the ‘80s. in 2003, they released their thirteenth studio album which was the critically acclaimed album entitled Dance to Death. During that same year, Iron Maiden released their EP called Rainmaker and two live DVDs entitled History of Iron Maiden, Pt. 1: The Early Days and Raising hell. In 2005, Sanctuary records put out a two-disc special album entitled The Essential Iron Maiden to support their gig as a headliner in an Ozzfest tour together with Black Sabbath.
In 2006, Iron Maiden released their 14th studio album entitled A Matter of Life and Death which was their first album that reached the top ten of the Billboard 200 chars. Four years after, the band released their 15th studio album called The Final Frontier which was produced by Kevin Shirley, the band’s long-time friend and producer.
The album managed to climb to the top spot of the charts in over 28 countries and the album’s single, El Dorado, gave Iron Maiden their very first Grammy Award for Bes Hard Rock/Metal Performance. In 2013, while the band was working on their 16th studio album, they discovered that Dickinson had cancerous tumors on his neck and tongue. He underwent chemotherapy treatment and in 2015, he was declared cancer-free. That was the time when Iron Maiden released their double-length, 92-minute long album entitled Book of Souls. And in 2016 and 2017, the band embarked on the Book of Souls World Tour to further promote their album. After a while, they released a live collection entitled Book of Souls: Live Chapter which is a compilation of recorded performances of the band during their tour.