Iron Maiden life and biography

Iron Maiden picture, image, poster

Iron Maiden biography

Date of birth : -
Date of death : -
Birthplace : London, England
Nationality : English
Category : Arts and Entertainment
Last modified : 2012-03-26
Credited as : heavy metal band, Di' Anno Era, Iron Maiden: Flight 666

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Iron Maiden is one of the most successful and influential heavy metal bands with worldwide album sales of more than 65 million. They enhanced the dual-guitar sound pioneered by Judas Priest in the 70's and their music has influenced dozens of famous bands, most notably Metallica and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The story began in East London in 1975 when young musician Steve Harris, frustrated by the lack of songwriting opportunities at Gypsy's Kiss and Smiler, decided to create his own band. Named Iron Maiden after a medieval torture instrument, the band suffered a rocky start due to numerous lineup changes and lack of support at a time when punk music flourished. However, Steve's unparalleled determination to succeed and passion for rock music managed to keep the band alive until the punk era began to fade in the late 70's.

By that time Iron Maiden began to establish themselves in the East End, mainly by playing every week at the Ruskin Arms. After three years of local gigs, Steve decided it was time for the band to move forwards and record their music. On New Year's Eve 1978 with the lineup of Steve Harris on bass guitar, Doug Sampson on drums, Paul Di' Anno on vocals and Dave Murray on guitar, the band recorded "The Soundhouse Tapes'. Despite consisting of just four songs, "Iron Maiden", "Prowler", "Strange World" and "Invasion", they handed a copy to famous rock DJ Neal Kay who held a weekly heavy metal night at the Soundhouse in North-West London.

Neal's mission was to give exposure to new bands and was receiving tapes from most young rock bands in London at the time. When he did eventually hear "The Soundhouse Tapes', he was impressed and later described it as "the most impressive demo I'd ever had handed to me". It instantly became a hit with the punters and "Prowler" topped Neal's top 20 request list that was published in the music press.

Eventually 5,000 copies of "The Soundhouse Tapes" were issued and sold immediately. The demo is now considered to be one of the most famous and sought-after musical pieces in rock history. The final pieces of the Maiden puzzle were assembled with an inspiring gig at the prestigious Marquee club organized by their newly recruited manager Rod Smallwood, the addition of guitarist Dennis Stratton, the replacement of Doug Sampson with Clive Burr and the subsequent signing of a long-term contract with EMI.

The band's debut album "Iron Maiden" was released in 1980 and was hailed as the most exiting sound of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal movement that also featured the likes of Saxon and Def Leppard. It proved a hugely influential album that inspired generations of rock musicians. The album's cover of on-stage mascot Eddie was designed by the band's artist Derek Riggs, a relationship that lasts until today. The band also went on to open for Kiss in their 1980 Unmasked Tour as well as a few dates for Judas Priest.

Following the tour, Stratton was fired because his style of tight guitar play did not match the smooth play of Murray. Consequently he was replaced by Murray's childhood friend Adrian Smith who had his own band at the time, Urchin. The result was the formation of the most legendary rock guitar duo other than that of K K Downing and Glenn Tipton of Judas Priest!

Maiden's second album named "Killers" was released in 1981, mostly consisting of songs that were considered a surplus for "Iron Maiden". The subsequent 125 gig tour was highly successful, however, Di' Anno enjoyed a rock n' roll lifestyle that affected his performances and consequently mutually agreed to depart. His replacement was Samson vocalist and Maiden fan Bruce Dickinson. His distinctive voice, ability to rule the crowds and songwriting abilities caught Steve Harris' attention when Samson played in Reading Festival 1981.

Dickinson's debut with Maiden was an album that needs no introduction. Propelled by Steve Harris' ingenious songwriting and galloping bass, Clive Burr's thundering drums, Bruce Dickinson's operatic vocals and Dave Murray's and Adrian Smith's blistering guitars, world domination was inevitable. 1982's "The Number Of The Beast' featured such classics as "Run To The Hills', "The Number Of The Beast', "Children Of The Damned' and "Hallowed Be Thy Name" and is now considered the definitive heavy metal album.

At the end of the Beast Tour there was another casualty. Clive's fading health paved the way for Trust drummer Nicko McBrain to complete the classic Maiden lineup that most fans relate to. His unique single bass drum/pedal style of playing formed an unrivaled rhythm section with Steve. Under the classic lineup Maiden dominated the Heavy Metal world of the 80's with "Piece Of Mind' (1983), "Powerslave' (1984), "Live After Death" (1985), "Somewhere In Time" (1986) and "Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son' (1988). In the process, they achieved multi-platinum status, played to millions of fans and headlined all the major festivals including Dortmund and Donington.

However, the suicidal extent of touring (300 gigs in 363 days for "Powerslave" tour) eventually took its toll on Adrian who departed in 1990 to follow a solo career. Tensions were also high between Bruce and the rest of the band and hence he took some time off to record his solo album "Tattooed Millionaire' as well as to write the book "The Adventures Of Lord Iffy Boatrace'. Adrian's replacement was former Ian Gillan guitarist Janick Gers who also worked with Bruce on "Tattooed Millionaire".

The next albums came in with "No Prayer For The Dying" (1990), featuring the number 1 single "Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter', and the chart topping "Fear Of The Dark" (1992). However, at the peak of Maiden's career Bruce decided to leave in order to concentrate on his solo work. This left the music world in shock and for the first time Maiden's prospects were bleak. To keep up with the fans' hunger for albums while auditions for a new singer took place, in 1993 the band released three live albums with "A Real Dead One', "A Real Live One" and "Live At Donington".

In December 1993 Wolfsbane front man Blaze Bayley officially became part of Iron Maiden and nearly two years later in 1995 the band released "The X Factor". Despite the fact that the album consisted of some powerful Bailey vocals, it was much criticized for its dark and melancholic songs, reflecting the fact that principal songwriter Steve Harris was going through personal problems with the breakup of his marriage and death of his father. Nonetheless, Maiden went on a 139 gig world tour and Bailey received a great reception from the fans. After the tour, the band released their first compilation album "The Best Of The Beast" (1996) that included a great live performance of "Afraid To Shoot Strangers" with Blaze on vocals.

With confidence recovered, Maiden went on to release "Virtual XI" in 1998. With few notable tracks and extensive use of synthesizers, for the first time a Maiden album failed to reach the million mark in worldwide sales and is generally considered the lowest point in the band's career to date. The situation worsened when Bailey got bronchitis and several dates of the US leg of the tour had to be cancelled. Inevitably, Steve Harris and Rod Smallwood decided to let him go.

With failing album sales, this was a make or brake point for Iron Maiden's career. Luckily, the band shocked the music world when they announced that both Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith were returning to reform the classic 80's lineup plus Janick Gers. With a six-man lineup in place, the band went on a hugely successful reunion tour and this was followed by the release of "Brave New World' in 2000. This marked the beginning of a more progressive period with the band exploring new musical grounds with the three guitar lineup. Easily the best album since 1988's "Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son", the band gained new fans and concluded the world tour with a 250,000 strong crwowd show at the famous Rock In Rio festival, with the live album and DVD released in 2001.

The band continued to explore progressive metal with 2003's "Dance Of Death" that went platinum in several countries and, to mark the 25th anniversary of the release of their first album, released "The Early Days' DVD (2004) that concentrates on the 1980-1983 era. The accompanied tour was yet another success and following the 55,000 people show at the Ullevi Stadium in Gothenburg that was broadcasted live in Scandinavia (first live broadcast since Live Aid in 1985), Iron Maiden managed an unthinkable nine entries in Sweden's Top 10 Charts!

Maiden's last actions for 2005 were a special charity gig at Hammersmith Apollo in London in support to the Clive Burr Multiple Sclerosis Trust Fund, a trust set up in 2002 to support their ex-drummer Clive Burr (1980-1982) and other people who suffer from MS and the release of "Death On The Road", a double live album recorded during the "Dance Of Death" European Tour.

Iron Maiden recorded a live session at Abbey Road Studios for Live from Abbey Road in December 2006. Their performance was screened in an episode alongside sessions with Natasha Bedingfield and Gipsy Kings in March 2007 on Channel 4 (UK) and June 2007 on the Sundance Channel (USA).The second part of the "A Matter of Life and Death" tour, which took place in 2007, was dubbed "A Matter of the Beast" to celebrate the 25th anniversary of The Number of the Beast album, and included appearances at several major festivals worldwide.

On 5 September 2007, the band announced their Somewhere Back in Time World Tour, which tied in with the DVD release of their Live After Death album. The setlist for the tour consisted of successes from the 1980s, with a specific emphasis on the Powerslave era for set design. The first part of the tour, commencing in Mumbai, India on 1 February 2008, consisted of 24 concerts in 21 cities, travelling nearly 50,000 miles in the band's own chartered aeroplane, named "Ed Force One". They played their first ever concerts in Costa Rica and Colombia and their first Australian shows since 1992.The last part of the tour took place in February and March 2009, with the band, once again, using "Ed Force One".

On 20 January 2009, the band announced that they were to release a full-length documentary film in select cinemas on 21 April 2009. Entitled Iron Maiden: Flight 666, it was filmed during the first part of the Somewhere Back In Time World Tour between February and March 2008. Flight 666 is co-produced by Banger Productions and was released by Universal Music Group in the U.S. and EMI Records in the rest of the world.

Following announcements that the band had begun composition of new material and booked studio time in early 2010 with Kevin Shirley producing, The Final Frontier was announced on 4 March.The album, the band's fifteenth, was released on 16 August,garnering critical acclaim and the band's greatest commercial success in their history, reaching No. 1 in twenty-eight countries worldwide. Although Steve Harris had been quoted in the past as claiming that the band would only produce fifteen studio releases, band members have since confirmed that there will be at least one further record.

On 15 February 2012, the band announced the Maiden England World Tour 2012-13, which will be based around the video of the same name. The tour will commence in North America in the summer of 2012, followed by further dates in 2013.

Current members:
Steve Harris – bass, backing vocals (1975–present)
Dave Murray – lead & rhythm guitars (1976–1977, 1978–present)
Adrian Smith – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals (1980–1990, 1999–present)
Bruce Dickinson – lead vocals (1981–1993, 1999–present)
Nicko McBrain – drums, percussion (1982–present)
Janick Gers – lead & rhythm guitars (1990–present)

Studio albums:
Iron Maiden (1980)
Killers (1981)
The Number of the Beast (1982)
Piece of Mind (1983)
Powerslave (1984)
Somewhere in Time (1986)
Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (1988)
No Prayer for the Dying (1990)
Fear of the Dark (1992)
The X Factor (1995)
Virtual XI (1998)
Brave New World (2000)
Dance of Death (2003)
A Matter of Life and Death (2006)
The Final Frontier (2010)

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