"Flight of Icarus"
Single by Iron Maiden
from the album Piece of Mind
B-side"I Got the Fire" (Montrose cover)
Released11 April 1983
Recorded1983
GenreHeavy metal
Length3:49
LabelEMI
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Martin Birch
Iron Maiden singles chronology
"The Number of the Beast"
(1982)
"Flight of Icarus"
(1983)
"The Trooper"
(1983)

"Flight of Icarus" is a song by the English heavy metal band Iron Maiden. It was their eighth single, the first from their fourth studio album, Piece of Mind (1983), and their first in the United States, where it was one of their few with substantial airplay,[1] peaking at a personal best No. 8 on the Billboard Top Album Tracks chart.[2] It was a lesser success in the UK, peaking at No. 11 on the UK Singles Chart.

One of Iron Maiden's most famous songs, "Flight of Icarus" was performed live for the first time in 32 years on May 26, 2018, in Tallinn, Estonia.[3][4]

Overview

The song is loosely based on the ancient Greek myth of Icarus[5] who was imprisoned with his father Daedalus in the palace of Knossos on Crete. In an attempt to escape, the pair fabricated wings from feathers and wax so they could fly away. Unfortunately Icarus, not heeding the advice of his father, flew too close to the Sun, melting the wax that held the feathers and thus fell to his death in the sea. Vocalist Bruce Dickinson modified the original tale to make it an allegory of teenage rebellion against adult authority, which caused the death of Icarus in this case.[6]

The single cover, in something of a parody of the original myth, portrays a winged Eddie killing Icarus with a flamethrower. Icarus resembles the figure in Evening: Fall of Day, by William Rimmer, which was used as a label logo by Led Zeppelin. According to the artist, Derek Riggs, this is a reference to Led Zeppelin's break-up a few years before.[6]

The song received criticism in the UK on release, with Garry Bushell commenting, "Plodding rather than powerful, it seemed universally unpopular with hardcore British metallurgists whose worst fears were bolstered by the number's release as the first American single.[7] Bassist Steve Harris has since said that "releasing 'Icarus' in the States was a mistake," going on to state that "I do wish we'd had time to break it in live before we recorded it, it's a lot more powerful live, a lot faster and heavier."[7] In support of the song, Dickinson stated, "Steve never liked it. He thought it was too slow, but I wanted it to be that rocksteady sort of beat. I knew it would get onto American radio if we kept it that way, and I was right."[1]

The song appears on the tribute album Numbers from the Beast, featuring Ripper Owens on vocals, Doug Aldrich on guitars, Jimmy Bain on bass, and Simon Wright on drums,[8] and it was also covered by the progressive metal band Fates Warning in 1983.[9]

Music video

The video for this track was directed by Jim Yukich and was filmed in the Bahamas at Compass Point Studios (where the album was recorded) as the band played a staged recording session of the track. Drummer Nicko McBrain appeared as a blue faced grim reaper. Also, producer Martin Birch had a cameo in the clip as his face morphed with Maiden mascot Eddie. A newer edit of the video features Flash animation by Camp Chaos spliced between the original footage, replacing McBrain and Birch's acting scenes and some of the '80s-style visual effects. The animation depicts Icarus fleeing away from a winged Eddie (as seen on the single cover).

Track listing

7" Single
Side one
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Flight of Icarus"Adrian Smith, Bruce Dickinson3:49
Side two
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
2."I've Got the Fire" (Montrose cover*)Ronnie Montrose2:37

^ * A cover of the song "I Got the Fire" from the Montrose album Paper Money in 1974. Iron Maiden originally released a live cover of the song during the Paul Di'Anno era, on 1980 single, "Sanctuary", however the "Flight of Icarus" version features Bruce Dickinson on vocals and is a studio production rather than a live performance.

Personnel

Production credits are adapted from the 7 inch vinyl cover.[10]

Iron Maiden
Production

Charts

Single Chart (1983) Peak
position
Album
"Flight of Icarus" Australia (Kent Music Report) 93[11] Piece of Mind
Irish Singles Chart 14[12]
UK Singles Chart 11[13]
Single Chart (1990) Peak
position
Album
"Flight Of Icarus / The Trooper" UK Albums Chart[note 1] 7[14]

Notes

  1. ^ Re-release of both singles as part of The First Ten Years box set. Exceeded the length limit of the UK Singles chart.

References

  1. ^ a b Wall, Mick (2004). Iron Maiden: Run to the Hills, the Authorised Biography (3rd ed.). Sanctuary Publishing. p. 245. ISBN 1-86074-542-3.
  2. ^ "Iron Maiden Billboard Charts". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  3. ^ "Flight of Icarus by Iron Maiden song statistics | setlist.fm".
  4. ^ "Iron Maiden Setlist at Saku Suurhall, Tallinn".
  5. ^ Huey, Steve. "Iron Maiden- Piece of Mind". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  6. ^ a b "Derek Riggs Commentary- 'Flight of Icarus'". Derek Riggs. Archived from the original on 10 March 2012. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  7. ^ a b Bushell, Garry; Halfin, Ross (1985). Running Free, The Official Story of Iron Maiden (2nd ed.). Zomba Books. p. 114. ISBN 0-946391-84-X.
  8. ^ "Producer Bob Kulick Discusses Iron Maiden Tribute Album Numbers From The Beast". Blabbermouth.net. 10 October 2005. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  9. ^ "Fates Warning – Night On Bröcken". Discogs. Retrieved 4 July 2012.
  10. ^ "Flight of Icarus" 7 Inch Single (Media notes). Iron Maiden. EMI. 11 April 1983.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  11. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 149. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  12. ^ "Irish Singles". IRMA. Irishcharts.ie. Archived from the original on 3 June 2009. Retrieved 1 October 2011.
  13. ^ "Top 40 Official UK Singles Archive 30 April 1983". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
  14. ^ "Top 40 Official UK Albums Archive 24 March 1990". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 3 October 2011.