When Iron Maiden released their fifteenth studio album in 2010, The Final Frontier, fans of the English heavy metal band had not anticipated a wait of five years for their next album, The Book of Souls (2015). Yet when the album was released, it not only topped charts in 24 countries, but also won praise from critics.
Classic Rock magazine stated “it’s hard to think of another band of this vintage that would be capable of sounding this vital and inspired.”
To support the band’s latest effort, the band went on The Book of Souls World Tour. One of the biggest and most-successful heavy metal tours of 2017, Iron Maiden performed in North and South America, Asia, Oceania, Africa, and Europe. Even though the tour has ended now, the band may still continue to perform at venues all over the world, including the one near you.
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Early Years & Influences
Iron Maiden was formed on 25 December, 1975, by bassist Steve Harris. The English musician and songwriter credits the band’s name to Alexandre Dumas’s novel The Man in the Iron Mask. After months of rehearsal, the Iron Maiden had its first live performance on 1 May, 1976, at the St. Nicks Hall in Poplar, London.
Iron Maiden’s formative years were marred with internal squabbling, leading to multiple lineup changes. At one time, Harris was so frustrated that he disbanded the band temporarily. Nonetheless, the band has not only managed to stay together all these years, but also have become one of the most successful heavy metal acts of all time. This has largely been due to their musical influences.
One of the most interesting characteristics of this band is that its members have their own set of favorite artists and bands, which have in turn inspired them professionally. Steve Harris says he was influenced by Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, UFO, and Thin Lizzy.Dave Murray (guitarist), is influenced by Jimi Hendrix; Adrian Smith (guitarist) by Pat Travers and Johnny Winter, and Bruce Dickinson, who is considered to be one of the best heavy metal vocalists of all time, is inspired by Arthur Brown, Ian Gillan, Ian Anderson and Peter Hammill.
Breakthrough & Recognition
Iron Maiden’s first breakthrough came three years after its formation. In 1978, the band recorded a demo tape and gave a copy to Neal Kay, who was then manager at a heavy metal club called Bandwagon Heavy Metal Soundhouse. Kay was impressed and started to play the tape regularly at his club. One of the songs from the tape “Prowler” became the No.1 hit at the club and soon Iron Maiden began to develop a loyal fan following. As the band became famous, it re-released the demo tape, titled The Soundhouse Tapes through their own record label. In 1979, Iron Maiden signed a recording contract with EMI. The British recording label would go on to release Iron Maiden’s first fifteen studio albums.
Famous Albums & Songs
Iron Maiden has released a total of 16 studio albums, 43 singles, 38 music videos, 19 video albums, 7 compilation albums and 11 live albums. All of these albums have charted not only in the band’s native UK, but in the rest of the world as well. However, the following albums have done exceptionally well in the US.
Killers – Released in 1981, this album debuted at No.78 on the Billboard 200. The album sold over half-million records in the US and was therefore certified Gold. “Wrathchild” was the biggest hit single from the album, which was performed by Paul Di’Anno.
The Number of the Beast – Released in 1982 and debuted at No.33 on the Billboard 200. With over a million record sales in the US, it was certified Platinum. The album however earned notoriety in the US due to the religious references in its artwork. The album spawned two of the biggest hit singles the band is still known by, “The Number of the Beast” and “Run to the Hills.”
Piece of Mind – In 1983, Piece of Mind was released and debuted at No.14 on the Billboard 200. It was also certified Platinum in the US. Both a critical and commercial success, Piece of Mind was described as “essential for anyone with even the most basic interest in heavy metal” by AllMusic.
Powerslave – Released in 1984, Powerslave was also certified Platinum in the US and debuted at No.21 on the Billboard 200. Perhaps the biggest commercial success of the band, Powerslave was ranked 38th by Rolling Stone magazine in its 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time list. “2 Minutes to Midnight” and “Aces High” were the biggest hit singles from this album.
Somewhere in Time – Debuting at No.11 on the Billboard 200 and released in 1986, Somewhere in Time was certified Platinum with over one-million in record sales in the US. “Wasted Years” became one of the highlights of the album with its melodic chorus and a complex guitar line.
After their 1986 release, Iron Maiden has gone on to release 10 more studio albums that have done exceptionally well on both sides of the Atlantic. However, the albums have not sold enough copies to get certifications in the US. It is interesting to note that the band’s last two albums, The Final Frontier and The Book of Souls both debuted at No.4 on the Billboard 200 and yet failed to sell enough copies to get a Gold certification or higher in the US.
Iron Maiden in 2017
From February 2016 to July 2017, Iron Maiden headlined The Book of Souls World Tour. This was Iron Maiden’s first tour since their 2012-14 Maiden England World Tour. The Tour had the band perform 117 live concerts and grossed over $90 million from 89 shows alone.
Known for their powerful lyrics and on-stage antics, Iron Maiden has always been on top of the must-watch list of heavy metal music lovers.
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