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Iron Maiden

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  • Band History

    Formed in London, England, in 1976, Iron Maiden was from the start the brainchild of Steve Harris (b. 12 March 1957, Leytonstone, London, England; bass), formerly a member of pub rockers Smiler. Named after a medieval torture device, the music was suitably heavy and hard on the senses.

    The heavy metal scene of the late 70s was widely regarded as stagnant, with only a handful of bands proving their ability to survive and produce music of quality. It was at this time that a new breed of young British bands began to emerge. This movement, which began to break cover in 1979 and 1980, was known as the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, or N.W.O.B.H.M.. Iron Maiden were one of the foremost bands in the genre, and many would say its definitive example. Younger and meaner, the N.W.O.B.H.M. bands dealt in faster, more energetic heavy metal than any of their forefathers (punk being an obvious influence).

    There were several line-up changes in the Iron Maiden ranks in the very early days, and come the release of their debut EP, the band featured Harris, Dave Murray (b. 23 December 1958, London, England; guitar), Paul Di'Anno (b. 17 May 1959, Chingford, London, England; vocals) and Doug Sampson (drums).

    The band made its live debut at the Cart & Horses Pub in Stratford, east London, in 1977, before honing its sound on the local pub circuit over the ensuing two years. Unable to solicit a response from record companies, the band sent a three-track tape, featuring Iron Maiden, Prowler and Strange World, to Neal Kay, DJ at north London's hard rock disco, the Kingsbury Bandwagon Soundhouse. Kay's patronage of Iron Maiden won them an instant welcome, which prompted the release of The Soundhouse Tapes on the band's own label.

    In November 1979 the band added second guitarist Tony Parsons to the line-up for two tracks on the Metal For Muthas compilation, but by the time the band embarked on sessions for their debut album, he had been replaced by Dennis Stratton (b. 9 November 1954, London, England), and Sampson by Clive Burr (b. 8 March 1957; drums, ex- Samson ). A promotional single, Running Free, reached number 34 on the UK charts and brought an appearance on BBC Television's Top Of The Pops. Refusing to mime, they became the first band since the Who in 1973 to play live on the show.

    Iron Maiden was a roughly produced album, but reached number 4 in the UK album listings on the back of touring stints with Judas Priest and enduringly popular material such as Phantom Of The Opera . Killers boasted production superior to that of the first album, and saw Dennis Stratton replaced by guitarist Adrian Smith ( b. 27 February 1957).

    In its wake, Iron Maiden became immensely popular among heavy metal fans, inspiring fanatical devotion, aided by blustering manager Rod Smallwood and apocalyptic mascot Eddie (the latter had been depicted on the cover of Sanctuary standing over Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's decapitated body).

    The release of Number Of The Beast was crucial to the development of the band. Without it, Iron Maiden might never have gone on to be such a force in the heavy metal arena. The album was a spectacular success, the sound of a band on the crest of a wave.

    It was also the debut of former infantryman and new vocalist Bruce Dickinson (b. Paul Bruce Dickinson, 7 August 1958, Worksop, Nottinghamshire, England), replacing Paul Di'Anno (who went on to front Dianno , Paul Di'Anno's Battlezone and Killers ). Formerly of Samson , history graduate Bruce Dickinson made his live debut with Maiden on 15 November 1981.

    Singles such as Run To The Hills and The Number Of The Beast were big UK chart hits, Iron Maiden leaving behind their N.W.O.B.*.M. counterparts in terms of success, just as the movement itself was beginning to peter out.

    Piece Of Mind continued their success and was a major hit in the UK (number 3) and USA (number 14). Clive Burr was replaced by Nicko McBrain on the sessions, formerly drummer with French meta

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