The History of Iron Maiden

Formed in Leyton, London, England in 1975, Iron Maiden found top five success in the UK with their heavy metal debut. Despite personal problems and line-up changes, the band continued to make music and reached the top of the charts less than 2 years later with "The Number of the Beast." Throughout the decades, the band managed to stay in the spotlight by experimenting with their sound. They even had their first American top five album in the new century with 2010's "The Final Frontier." In this WatchMojo.com video, we take a look at the history of Iron Maiden.
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They’ll make you run to the hills. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we're taking a look at the history of Iron Maiden.

Formation


Heavy metal band Iron Maiden was formed in Leyton, London, England in 1975 by bassist Steve Harris. The band's first incarnation made its live debut in 1976, though the early years were plagued by lineup changes and false starts. Guitarist Dave Murray joined soon after, and was the only member other than Harris to appear on all Iron Maiden releases.

Debut


After their demo began creating buzz in and around London, the band acquired manager Rod Smallwood and landed a contract with EMI. Iron Maiden's self-titled debut dropped in 1980, with the recently hired Paul Di'Anno on vocals. The effort reached the top five of the UK Albums Chart and paved the way for a headlining tour of the UK.

Sophomore Effort


Before the release of their second album, Adrian Smith joined the band as a guitarist in 1980. His first record with Iron Maiden was the next year's Killers, which began the band's 11-year stint with producer Martin Birch. The subsequent world tour set the stage for Iron Maiden's monstrous rise in the ensuing years. Shortly thereafter, the band also parted ways with Di'Anno due to his substance abuse problems, and replaced him with Bruce Dickinson.

“The Number of the Beast”


Dickinson's first studio appearance with Iron Maiden was 1982's The Number of the Beast. The album topped the UK charts and sold over 10 million copies worldwide. During the following tour, Christian groups began accusing Maiden of promoting Satanic messages in their albums; but the band welcomed this controversy as free publicity. By year’s end, drummer Clive Burr was replaced by Nicko McBrain.

More UK Success


The band then released the top five UK album Piece of Mind in 1983, which included standout tracks like “The Trooper” and “Flight of Icarus.”

“Powerslave” and Massive World Tour


The lengthy Powerslave dropped the next year and was another UK success. It contained two top twenty singles, as well as their longest song to date, the 13-minute epic “Rime of The Ancient Mariner.” They supported that record with a tour that took them to over 25 countries with over 3.5 million attendees, and was captured for a 1985 live album.

Evolving Sound


The group re-emerged in 1986 after a six month break with Somewhere in Time. On this album, fans were introduced to the addition of synthesized bass and guitars to Maiden's already-iconic sound. As none of Dickinson's songs appeared on the record, he began to pursue solo work during this time.

Side Projects


Next, Iron Maiden added keyboards to their heavy metal sound on the 1988 concept album, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. This time, Dickinson's writing capacities were back in full force on the number one UK record. However, the next few years saw several members work on outside projects, which eventually led to the departure of Smith and his replacement with Janick Gers.

Number One UK hit


The band's next album was 1990's No Prayer for the Dying, which spawned their only UK number one single to that point. Two years later, the title track to 1992's Fear of the Dark became one of Iron Maiden's greatest hits and a live staple.

Blaze Bayley and Return of Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith


After a farewell tour, Dickinson left the band in 1993. His replacement, Blaze Bayley, was met with inconsistent fan reaction. As such, 1995's The X Factor and 1998's Virtual XI sold and charted much lower than previous efforts. But by 1999, Dickinson and Smith returned, allowing Maiden to embark on The Ed Hunter Tour with a three-guitarist lineup that same year.

Success in the Twenty-First Century


The group continued releasing albums in the new millennium: 2000's Brave New World, 2003's Dance of Death and 2006's A Matter of Life and Death. In 2010, they had their highest charting record on the American charts when The Final Frontier hit the Billboard 200's top five.

Pioneers of the New Wave of British Metal


As their successful tours and numerous accolades demonstrate, Iron Maiden remains as popular as ever. Along with Def Leppard, the band is credited with spearheading the New Wave of British Metal and has influenced countless artists around the globe thanks to their iconic guitars and heavy metal attitude.
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