Iron Maiden are an English heavy metal band formed in Leyton, East London, in 1975 by bassist and primary songwriter Steve Harris. Although fluid in the early years of the band, the lineup for most of the band's history has consisted of Harris, lead vocalist Bruce Dickinson, drummer Nicko McBrain, and guitarists Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Janick Gers. As pioneers of the new wave of British heavy metal movement, Iron Maiden achieved initial success during the early 1980s. After several lineup changes, the band went on to release a series of UK and US Platinum and Gold albums, including 1980's debut album, 1981's Killers, and 1982's The Number of the Beast – its first album with Bruce Dickinson, who replaced Paul Di'Anno as lead singer – which was a turning point in their career, helping establish them as one of heavy metal's most important artists. The Number of the Beast is among the most popular heavy metal albums of all time, having sold almost 20 million copies worldwide.
Since the return of lead vocalist Bruce Dickinson and guitarist Adrian Smith in 1999, the band has undergone a resurgence in popularity, with a series of new albums and highly successful tours. Their three most recent albums — The Final Frontier (2010), The Book of Souls (2015), and Senjutsu (2021) — have all reached No. 1 in more than 20 countries. Iron Maiden have sold over 130 million copies of their albums worldwide and have obtained over 600 certifications.
The band and its members have received multiple industry awards, including the Grammy Awards, Brit Awards, Silver Clef Award, Nordoff-Robbins Award, Ivor Novello Awards, Juno Awards, and Guinness Book of World Records. The band are also a part of permanent exhibitions of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, British Music Experience, Rock in Rio Wall of Fame and Wacken Open Air Hall of Fame. In 2023 Iron Maiden were honoured by Royal Mail UK with dedicated postal stamps and cards.
The band have released 41 albums, including 17 studio albums, 13 live albums, four EPs and seven compilations. They have also released 47 singles and 20 video albums, and two video games. Iron Maiden's lyrics cover such topics as history, literature, war, mythology, society and religion.  As of October 2019[update], the band have played some 2,500 live shows, performing for tens of millions of fans. For over 40 years, the musicians have been supported by their famous mascot, "Eddie", who has appeared on almost all of their releases. Iron Maiden have become one of the most influential and revered rock bands of all time, and are credited with influencing countless bands and genres.
Iron Maiden were formed on Christmas Day, 25 December 1975, by bassist Steve Harris shortly after he left his previous group, Smiler. Harris attributed the band's name to a film adaptation of The Man in the Iron Mask from the novel by Alexandre Dumas, the title of which reminded him of the iron maiden torture device. They originally had the name Ash Mountain, but most of the band members preferred the name Iron Maiden, so that name was chosen shortly after the band formed. After months of rehearsal, Iron Maiden made their debut at St. Nicks Hall in Poplar on 1 May 1976, before taking up a semi-residency at the Cart and Horses Pub in Maryland, Stratford. The original lineup was short-lived, with vocalist Paul Day being the first casualty as, according to Harris, he lacked "energy or charisma on stage". He was replaced by Dennis Wilcock, a Kiss fan who used makeup and fake blood during live performances. Wilcock's friend, guitarist Dave Murray, was invited to join, much to the dismay of the band's guitarists Dave Sullivan and Terry Rance. Their frustration led Harris to temporarily disband Iron Maiden in 1976, though the group reformed soon after with Murray as the sole guitarist. Harris and Murray remain the band's longest-serving members and have performed on all of their releases.
Iron Maiden recruited another guitarist in 1977, Bob Sawyer, who was sacked for embarrassing the band on stage by pretending to play guitar with his teeth. Tension ensued again, causing a rift between Murray and Wilcock, who convinced Harris to fire Murray, as well as original drummer Ron Matthews. A new lineup was put together, including future Cutting Crew member Tony Moore on keyboards, Terry Wapram on guitar and drummer Barry Purkis (better known today as Thunderstick). After a single gig with the band in January 1978, Moore was asked to leave as Harris decided keyboards did not suit the band's sound. Dave Murray rejoined in late March 1978, and when Terry Wapram disapproved he was sacked. A few weeks later, Dennis Wilcock decided to leave Iron Maiden to form his own band, V1, with Wapram, and drummer Barry Purkis left, as well. Doug Sampson was at Dennis and Thunderstick's last gig and so joined the band afterwards.
Harris, Murray and Sampson spent the summer and autumn of 1978 rehearsing while they searched for a singer to complete the band's new lineup. A chance meeting at the Red Lion, a pub in Leytonstone, in November 1978 evolved into a successful audition for vocalist Paul Di'Anno. Steve Harris stated, "There's sort of a quality in Paul's voice, a raspiness in his voice, or whatever you want to call it, that just gave it this great edge". At this time, Murray would typically act as their sole guitarist, with Harris commenting, "Davey was so good he could do a lot of it on his own. The plan was always to get a second guitarist in, but finding one that could match Davey was really difficult".
Main articles: The Soundhouse Tapes, Iron Maiden (album), and Killers (Iron Maiden album)
On New Year's Eve 1978, Iron Maiden recorded a demo, consisting of four songs, at Spaceward Studios in Cambridge. Hoping the recording would help them secure more gigs, the band presented a copy to Neal Kay, who, at the time, was managing a heavy metal club called "Bandwagon Heavy Metal Soundhouse". Upon hearing the tape, Kay began playing the demo regularly at the Bandwagon, and one of the songs, "Prowler", eventually went to No. 1 in the Soundhouse charts, which were published weekly in Sounds magazine. A copy was also acquired by Rod Smallwood, who soon became the band's manager, and, as Iron Maiden's popularity increased, they released the demo on their own record label as The Soundhouse Tapes, named after the club. Featuring only three tracks (one song, "Strange World", was excluded as the band were unsatisfied with its production), all 5,000 copies sold out within weeks.
In December 1979, the band secured a major record deal with EMI and asked Dave Murray's childhood friend, Adrian Smith of Urchin, to join the group as their second guitarist. Busy with his own band, Smith declined and Dennis Stratton was hired instead. Shortly afterwards, Doug Sampson left due to health issues and was replaced by ex-Samson drummer Clive Burr at Stratton's suggestion on 26 December 1979. Iron Maiden's first appearance on an album was on the Metal for Muthas compilation (released on 15 February 1980) with two early versions of "Sanctuary" and "Wrathchild". The release led to a tour that featured several other bands linked with the new wave of British heavy metal movement.
Iron Maiden released their self-titled album in 1980, which debuted at No. 4 in the UK Albums Chart. In addition to the title track, the album included other early favourites such as "Running Free", "Transylvania", "Phantom of the Opera" and "Sanctuary" – which was not on the original UK release, but appeared on the US version and subsequent remasters. The band embarked on a headline tour of the UK, before opening for Kiss on their 1980 Unmasked Tour's European leg as well as supporting Judas Priest on select dates. After the Kiss tour, Dennis Stratton was dismissed from the band as a result of creative and personal differences, and was replaced by Smith in October 1980. In December, the band played at the Rainbow Theatre in London, where their very first live video was filmed. Live at the Rainbow was released in May 1981, and the cuts "Iron Maiden" and "Wrathchild" from this video received heavy rotation on MTV during its first hours on the air as the first metal videos ever.
In 1981, Iron Maiden released their second studio album, Killers. Containing many tracks written prior to their debut release, it had only two new songs written for the record: "Prodigal Son" and "Murders in the Rue Morgue" (the latter's title was taken from the short story by Edgar Allan Poe). Unsatisfied with the production on their debut album, the band hired veteran producer Martin Birch, who would continue to work with Iron Maiden until his retirement in 1992. The record was followed by the band's first world tour, which included their debut performance in the United States, opening for Judas Priest at The Aladdin Casino in Las Vegas. Killers made the band's USA album charts debut, reaching No. 78 on the Billboard 200, and they booked 132 shows to promote the album. The band visited Yugoslavia as a headliner of the Belgrade festival with 50,000 people in attendance, the first time the band played behind the Iron Curtain. During the summer, Iron Maiden played several festivals in Europe, including at the Golden Summernights 1981 festivals at Zeppelinfeld in Nuremberg in front of 100,000 people.
Main articles: The Number of the Beast (album), Piece of Mind, Powerslave, and Live After Death
By 1981, Paul Di'Anno was demonstrating increasingly self-destructive behaviour, particularly due to his drug usage, about which Di'Anno comments, "It wasn't just that I was snorting a bit of coke, though; I was just going for it non-stop, 24 hours a day, every day ... the band had commitments piling up that went on for months, years, and I just couldn't see my way to the end of it. I knew I'd never last the whole tour. It was too much". With his performances waning, Di'Anno was dismissed following the Killer World Tour, at which point the band had already selected his replacement. After a meeting with Rod Smallwood at the Reading Festival, Bruce Dickinson, previously of Samson, auditioned for Iron Maiden in September 1981 and was immediately hired. The following month, Dickinson went out on the road with the band on a small headlining tour in Italy, as well as a one-off show at the Rainbow Theatre in the UK. For the last show, and in anticipation of their forthcoming album, the band played "Children of the Damned" and "22 Acacia Avenue", introducing fans to the sound towards which they were progressing.
In 1982, Iron Maiden released their third studio album, The Number of the Beast, which became the band's first No. 1 record on the UK Albums Chart, was a Top 10 hit in many other countries and reached No. 33 on the Billboard 200. At the time, Dickinson was in the midst of legal difficulties with Samson's management and was not permitted to add his name to any of the songwriting credits, although he still made what he described as a "moral contribution" to "Children of the Damned", "The Prisoner" and "Run to the Hills". For the second time, the band embarked on a world tour, dubbed The Beast on the Road, during which they visited North America, Japan, Australia and Europe, including a headline appearance for 40,000 people at the Reading Festival. Iron Maiden played 188 shows in 10 months. The Beast on the Road's US leg proved controversial when an American conservative political lobbying group claimed that Iron Maiden were Satanic because of the new album's title track and "demonic" cover art, and a group of Christian activists destroyed Iron Maiden records in protest. In recent years, Dickinson stated that the band treated this as "silliness" and that the demonstrations in fact gave them "loads of publicity". The Number of the Beast sold 2.5 million copies in its first year, 14 million by 2010, and 20 million by 2022.
In December 1982, drummer Clive Burr was fired from the band and replaced by Nicko McBrain, who previously played for Trust. Although Harris stated his dismissal took place because his live performances were affected by offstage activities, Burr objected to this and claimed that he was unfairly ousted from the band. Soon afterwards, the band traveled to the Bahamas to record the first of three consecutive albums at Compass Point Studios. In 1983, they released their fourth studio album, Piece of Mind, which reached the No. 3 spot in the UK and No. 14 on the Billboard 200. Piece of Mind features the successful singles "The Trooper" and "Flight of Icarus", the latter being notable as one of the band's few songs to gain substantial airplay in the US. Iron Maiden played 151 concerts in Europe and North America as a part of the World Piece Tour. They also booked their first major North America tour as headliners, selling out Madison Square Garden with a crowd of 20,000.
Soon after the success of Piece of Mind and its supporting tour, the band released their fifth studio album, Powerslave, on 9 September 1984. The album features the singles "2 Minutes to Midnight" and "Aces High", an emotional title track, as well as "Rime of the Ancient Mariner", which is based on Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem of the same name. Powerslave was another chart success, reaching No. 12 on the Billboard 200 and No. 2 in the UK. The tour following the album, dubbed the World Slavery Tour, was the band's largest to date, consisting of 193 shows in 28 countries over 13 months, playing to an estimated 3,500,000 people. Many shows were played back to back in the same city, such as in Long Beach, California, where the band played four consecutive concerts at Long Beach Arena for a combined audience of 54,000 fans. Iron Maiden also made their debut appearance in South America, where they co-headlined the Rock in Rio festival with Queen for an audience estimated at 350,000–500,000 people.
The tour was physically grueling for the band, who demanded six months off when it ended (although this was later reduced to four months). This was the first substantial break in the group's history, including the cancellation of a proposed supporting tour for the new live album, with Bruce Dickinson threatening to quit unless the tour ended. In October 1985, Iron Maiden released their first double live album, Live After Death, which was a critical and commercial success, peaking at No. 19 on the Billboard 200 and No. 2 in the UK. The album was recorded at Long Beach Arena and also features additional tracks from four nights at London's Hammersmith Apollo. In November 1985, Iron Maiden were named the best rock and metal band in the world and awarded at Public Choice International.
Main articles: Somewhere in Time (Iron Maiden album) and Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
Returning from their time off, the band adopted a different style for their 1986 studio album, Somewhere in Time. For the first time in the band's history, synthesised bass and guitars were featured to add textures and layers to the sound. The release charted well across the world, particularly with the single "Wasted Years", but notably included no writing credits from Dickinson, whose material was rejected by the rest of the band. The album was the band's biggest American chart success to date, reaching No. 11 on the Billboard 200 and No. 2 in the UK charts. The experimentation evident on Somewhere in Time continued on their next album, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, which was released in 1988. A concept album recorded at Musicland Studios in Munich and based on the 1987 novel Seventh Son by Orson Scott Card, it was the band's first record to include keyboards, which were performed by Harris and Smith. After his contributions were not used for Somewhere in Time, Dickinson's enthusiasm was renewed as his ideas were accepted for this album. Another popular release, it became Iron Maiden's second album to hit No. 1 in the UK charts and reached No. 12 on the Billboard 200.
During the following tour, the band headlined the Monsters of Rock festival at Donington Park for the first time on 20 August 1988, playing to the largest crowd in the festival's history (107,000). The tour concluded with several headline shows in the UK in November and December 1988, with the concerts at the NEC Arena, Birmingham, recorded for a live video, entitled Maiden England. The video debuted at top spots of worldwide music videos charts. In May, the group set out on a supporting tour, which saw them perform 103 shows to well over two million people worldwide over seven months. To recreate the album's keyboards onstage throughout the tour, the group recruited Michael Kenney, Steve Harris' bass technician; Kenney has served as the band's live keyboard player ever since, also performing on the band's four following albums.
Main articles: No Prayer for the Dying and Fear of the Dark (Iron Maiden album)
During a break in 1989, guitarist Adrian Smith released a solo album with his band ASAP, entitled Silver and Gold. Vocalist Bruce Dickinson began work on a solo album with former Gillan guitarist Janick Gers, releasing Tattooed Millionaire in 1990, followed by a tour. At the same time, to mark the band's 10-year recording anniversary, Iron Maiden released a compilation collection, The First Ten Years, a series of 10 CDs and double 12-inch singles. Between 24 February and 28 April 1990, the individual parts were released one by one, each containing two of Iron Maiden's singles, including the original B-sides.
After the break, Iron Maiden began work on a new studio record. During the pre-production stages, Adrian Smith left the band due to differences with Steve Harris regarding the direction the band should be taking. Smith disagreed with the "stripped down" style they were leaning towards. Janick Gers, having worked on Dickinson's solo project, was chosen to replace Smith and became the band's first new member in seven years. The album No Prayer for the Dying was released in October 1990. It contained the hit singles "Holy Smoke" and "Bring Your Daughter... to the Slaughter", the band's first – and, to date, only – UK Singles Chart No. 1, originally recorded by Dickinson's solo project for the soundtrack of A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child. Iron Maiden's eighth studio album debuted at No. 2 in the UK albums chart and No. 17 on the Billboard 200. No Prayer for the Dying signalled the return of Iron Maiden to their musical roots, especially in simplicity of composition. The No Prayer on the Road tour was booked for 120 shows in Europe, North America and Japan. Thirty-three shows in continental Europe were sold out with a reported 530,000 fans attending. In total, Iron Maiden played for some two million fans.
After some more time off, the band recorded their next studio album, Fear of the Dark, which was released in 1992. The title track became a regular fixture in the band's concert setlists. Achieving their third No. 1 in the UK albums chart and No. 12 on the Billboard 200, the release also included the No. 2 single "Be Quick or Be Dead", the No. 21 single "From Here to Eternity", and the softer "Wasting Love". The album featured the first songwriting by Gers, and no collaboration at all between Harris and Dickinson on songs. The extensive worldwide tour that followed included their first-ever Latin American leg, although Christian organisations prevented Iron Maiden from performing in Chile and accused them of being "emissaries of satanic propaganda", and headlining the Monsters of Rock festivals in seven European countries. Iron Maiden's second performance at Donington Park, for a sold-out audience of 75,000, was filmed for the audio and video release Live at Donington and featured a guest appearance by Adrian Smith, who joined the band to perform "Running Free". However, the tour witnessed conflicts between Bruce Dickinson and rest of the band.
In 1993, Dickinson left the band to pursue his solo career, but agreed to remain for a farewell tour and two live albums (later re-released in one package). The first, A Real Live One, was released in March 1993 and featured songs from 1986 to 1992, and the second, A Real Dead One, was released after Dickinson had left the band and featured songs from 1980 to 1984. The tour did not go well, with Steve Harris claiming that Dickinson would only perform properly for high-profile shows, and that at several concerts, he would only mumble into the microphone. Dickinson denied that he was under-performing, stating that it was impossible to "make like Mr. Happy Face if the vibe wasn't right", and that news of his exit from the band had prevented any chance of a good atmosphere during the tour. Bruce Dickinson played his farewell show with Iron Maiden on 28 August 1993. The show was filmed, broadcast by the BBC and released on video under the name Raising Hell.
Main articles: The X Factor (album) and Virtual XI
In 1994, the band listened to hundreds of tapes sent in by vocalists before convincing Blaze Bayley, formerly of the band Wolfsbane, who had supported Iron Maiden in 1990, to audition for them. Harris' preferred choice from the outset, Bayley had a different vocal style from his predecessor and ultimately received a mixed reception among fans.
After a three-year hiatus from studio releases – a record for the band at the time – Iron Maiden released their next studio album, The X Factor. The band had their lowest chart position since 1981 for an album in the UK (debuting at No. 8), although it went on to win "Album of the Year" awards in France, Spain and Germany. The record included the 11-minute epic "Sign of the Cross", the band's longest song since "Rime of the Ancient Mariner", as well as the singles "Man on the Edge" (based on the film Falling Down) and "Lord of the Flies", based on the novel of the same name. The release is notable for its "dark" tone, inspired by Steve Harris' divorce. The band toured for the rest of 1995 and 1996, playing their first shows in Israel and South Africa as well as Malta, Bulgaria and Romania in Europe, before concluding in the Americas. The biggest show of the whole tour was a headline appearance for 60,000 people at the Monsters of Rock festival in São Paulo, Brazil.The X Factor sold 1.3 million copies, the lowest sales result since 1981. After the tour, Iron Maiden released a compilation album, Best of the Beast. The band's first compilation, it included a new single, "Virus", in which the lyrics attack critics who had recently written off the band.
In 1998, Iron Maiden released Virtual XI, whose chart scores were the band's lowest to date. The album peaked at No. 16 in the UK, the band's lowest for a new studio record. At the same time, Steve Harris assisted in remastering the band's entire discography, up to and including Live at Donington. Bayley's tenure in Iron Maiden ended in January 1999 when he was asked to leave during a band meeting. The dismissal took place due to issues Bayley had experienced with his voice during the Virtual XI World Tour, although Janick Gers stated that this was partly the band's fault for forcing him to perform songs pitched outside the natural range of his voice.
Main articles: Ed Hunter, Brave New World (Iron Maiden album), and Dance of Death (album)
The band entered into talks with Dickinson, who agreed to rejoin during a meeting in Brighton in January 1999, along with guitarist Adrian Smith, who was telephoned a few hours later. With Gers, Smith's replacement, remaining, Iron Maiden now had a three-guitar line-up (called "The Three Amigos"), and embarked on a hugely successful reunion tour. Dubbed The Ed Hunter Tour, it tied in with the band's newly released greatest hits collection, Ed Hunter, whose track listing was decided by a poll on the group's website, and also contained a computer game of the same name starring the band's mascot.
Not satisfied with the results from Harris' personal studio, Barnyard Studios located on his property in Essex, which had been used for the last four Iron Maiden studio albums, the band recorded the new release, Brave New World, at Guillaume Tell Studios in Paris, France in November 1999 with producer Kevin Shirley. Thematic influences continued with "The Wicker Man" – based on the 1973 British cult film of the same name – and "Brave New World" – a title taken from the Aldous Huxley novel of the same name. The album furthered the more progressive and melodic sound featured in some earlier recordings, along with elaborate song structures and keyboard orchestration. The album was a commercial and artistic success,
The reunion world tour that followed consisted of well over 100 dates (including 31 shows of the 1999 tour), and culminated on 19 January 2001 in a show at the Rock in Rio festival in Brazil, where Iron Maiden played to an audience of over 250,000. While the performance was being produced for a CD and DVD release in March 2002, under the name Rock in Rio, the band took a year off from touring, during which they played three consecutive shows at Brixton Academy to raise funds for former drummer Clive Burr, who had recently announced that he had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The band performed two further concerts for Burr's MS Trust Fund charity in 2005, and 2007, before his death in 2013. During the 2000–2002 tour, Iron Maiden played 91 shows for over two million people in 33 countries. In addition to their touring success, the band were nominated twice for the annual Grammy Awards and received the International Achievement Award at the 2001 Ivor Novello Awards.
Following their summer 2003 Give Me Ed... 'Til I'm Dead Tour, which included 57 shows in Europe and North America and the headlining of large festivals such as Roskilde, Heineken Jammin' Festival, Rock am Ring and Rock im Park (combined attendance of 130,000) and the first Download Festival held at Donington Park; a successor to Monsters of Rock, Iron Maiden released Dance of Death, their thirteenth studio album, which was met with worldwide critical and commercial success. The album reached No. 2 on the UK Albums Chart and No. 18 on the Billboard 200. Produced by Kevin Shirley, now the band's regular producer, many critics felt that this release matched up to their earlier efforts. As usual, historical, and literary references were present, with "Montségur" focussing on the Cathar stronghold conquered in 1244, and "Paschendale" relating to the First World War battle.
During the The Dance of Death Tour 2003–04, which began in September 2003, Iron Maiden played 53 shows across Europe, North America, Latin America and Japan. The band's performance at Westfalenhalle, in Dortmund, Germany, was recorded and released in August 2005 as a live album and DVD entitled Death on the Road. In 2005, the band announced the Eddie Rips Up the World Tour, which, tying in with their 2004 DVD entitled The History of Iron Maiden – Part 1: The Early Days, only featured material from their first four albums. As part of this celebration of their earlier years, "The Number of the Beast" single was re-released and went straight to No. 3 in the UK Chart. The tour featured many headlining stadium and festival dates, including a performance at Ullevi Stadium in Sweden to an audience of almost 60,000. This concert was also broadcast live on satellite television across Europe to approximately 60 million viewers. The band completed the tour by headlining the Reading and Leeds Festivals on 26–28 August, and the RDS Stadium in Ireland on 31 August.
Main articles: A Matter of Life and Death (album), Somewhere Back in Time World Tour, The Final Frontier, and Maiden England World Tour
At the end of 2005, Iron Maiden began work on A Matter of Life and Death, their fourteenth studio album, which released in autumn 2006. While not a concept album, war and religion are recurring themes in the lyrics, as well as in the cover artwork. The release was a critical and commercial success, earning the band their first top ten on the Billboard 200 and debuting at number one in the album charts of 13 countries. The supporting tour saw mixed critical reception, but included the band's first ever performance in Dubai at the Dubai Desert Rock Festival for 25,000 people, followed by a concert in Bangalore Palace Grounds, the first of any heavy metal band in India. The band went on to play a string of European dates, including an appearance at Download Festival, their fourth headline performance at Donington Park, to approximately 80,000 people.
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 songs from the 1980s. They played their first ever concerts in Costa Rica and Colombia and their first shows in Australia and Puerto Rico since 1992. The tour led to the release of a new compilation album, entitled Somewhere Back in Time, which included a selection of tracks from their 1980 eponymous debut to 1988's Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, as well as several live versions from Live After Death. In 2008–09 in Latin America, the band gave as many as 27 concerts for about a million people in total, a record for a heavy rock performer. The Somewhere Back in Time World Tour continued with two further legs in the US and Europe in the summer of 2008. With the sole UK concert taking place at Twickenham Stadium, this would be the first time the band would headline a stadium in their own country. The three 2008 legs of the tour was the second highest-grossing tour of the year for a British artist. The final leg included the band's first appearances in Peru and Ecuador, as well as their return to Venezuela and New Zealand after 17 years. The band also played another show in India at the Rock in India festival to a crowd of 20,000. At their concert in São Paulo on 15 March, Dickinson announced on stage that it was the largest non-festival show of their career, with an overall attendance of 100,000 people. The final leg ended in Florida on 2 April after which the band took a break. Overall, the tour reportedly had an attendance of over two and a half million people worldwide over both years. At the 2009 Brit Awards, Iron Maiden won the award for best British live act.
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 was co-produced by Banger Productions and was distributed in cinemas by Arts Alliance Media and EMI, with D&E Entertainment sub-distributing in the US. The film went on to have a Blu-ray, DVD, and CD release in May and June, topping the music DVD charts in 25 countries. In most of them the release went Gold, Platinum or Multi-Platinum.
Following announcements the band had begun composing new material and booked studio time in early 2010 with Kevin Shirley producing, The Final Frontier was announced on 4 March and featured three singles "The Final Frontier", "El Dorado" and "Coming Home", as well as epic, progressive opuses such as "Isle of Avalon", "The Talisman" and "When The Wild Wind Blows". The album, the band's fifteenth, was released on 16 August, garnering critical acclaim and the band's greatest commercial success in their current history, reaching No. 1 in twenty-eight countries worldwide, including a debut at No. 4 on Billboard 200 reaching the highest American album charts position to date.
The album's supporting tour saw the band perform 101 shows across the globe to an estimated audience of well over two and a half million, including their first visits to Singapore, Indonesia, and South Korea. "El Dorado" won the Best Metal Performance award at the 2011 Grammy Awards, the band's first win after two previous nominations. On 15 March, a new compilation to accompany 2009's Somewhere Back in Time was announced. The double disc set covers the period 1990–2010 (the band's most recent eight studio albums). In 2012, the band announced that a new release, entitled En Vivo!, based on footage from the Chile concert, would be made available worldwide. The DVD topped the music video charts around the world. In addition to the concert footage, the video release includes an 88-minute tour documentary, entitled Behind The Beast, containing interviews with the band and their crew. In December 2012, one song from the release ("Blood Brothers") was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance at the 2013 Grammy Awards.
On 15 February, the band announced their third retrospective Maiden England World Tour 2012–14, which was based around the video of the same name. The tour commenced in North America in the summer of 2012 and was followed by further dates in 2013 and 2014, and included the band's fifth headline performance at Donington Park with 100,000 fans in attendance. Iron Maiden closed the tour in July 2014 at Sonisphere Festival, Knebworth, having undertaken 100 shows in 32 countries before an estimated audience of more than 2.7 million people.
Main articles: The Book of Souls, The Book of Souls World Tour, Legacy of the Beast World Tour, Senjutsu (album), and The Future Past World Tour
The band's 2015 album, The Book of Souls, was released on 4 September. The band's first original studio album not to be issued by EMI outside North America, following Parlophone's acquisition by Warner Music Group in 2013, it was a critical and commercial success, becoming the band's fifth UK No. 1 album and second No. 4 on Billboard 200 in the US. The new release reached number one positions in the album charts of 43 countries. The new record was recorded at Guillaume Tell Studios in late summer 2014; its closing song, "Empire of the Clouds", penned by Dickinson, surpassed "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" (from 1984's Powerslave) as Iron Maiden's longest song, at 18 minutes in length.
In February 2016, the band embarked on The Book of Souls World Tour, which saw them play concerts in 35 countries across six continents, including their first ever performances in China, El Salvador, and Lithuania, in the band's biggest album tour since 1996. In total, Iron Maiden played 117 shows on six continents for well over two and a half million people. The band next undertook the Legacy of the Beast World Tour, commencing in Europe in 2018, with North and South American shows following in 2019. The tour was received very positively by fans and critics.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced rescheduling of nearly one million tickets from 2020, first to 2021, and then to 2022. In October 2020, the band announced that they would release a live album from the Legacy of the Beast World Tour called Nights of the Dead, Legacy of the Beast: Live in Mexico City. The double concert album was recorded during three sold-out concerts in Mexico City's Palacio de los Deportes for a combined audience of over 70,000 people.
On 15 July 2021, Iron Maiden released a video for their first song in six years, "The Writing on the Wall", which was directed by Nicos Livesey. Four days later, the band announced that their seventeenth studio album, Senjutsu, would be released on 3 September 2021. Senjutsu eventually reached the top of the best-seller lists in 27 countries, but it was the band's first album in fifteen years not to reach number one on the UK charts, although it did top the UK Rock & Metal Singles and Albums Charts. In total, Senjutsu reached the top three in 55 countries and the top five in 63 countries. The animated video for "The Writing on the Wall" single was nominated for UK Music Video Awards 2021 in category "Best Animation in a Video", while Senjutsu was awarded the title of "Best Metal Album of 2021" by Rolling Stone magazine.
On 6 October 2022, the band announced that their next tour will be called The Future Past Tour. The theme of the tour will be a combination of Senjutsu and the underperformed 1986 album Somewhere in Time. According to Steve Harris, the band plans to perform songs which have not been played live for 35 years or even at all before, in addition to tracks from "Senjutsu" and other albums. On 1 February 2023, the band received their second nomination for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Iron Maiden and particular musicians of the band have received multiple nominations, honours and awards including Grammy Awards and equivalents awards in many countries, Brit Awards, Silver Clef Award, Nordoff-Robbins Award, Ivor Novello Awards, Juno Awards, Guinness Book of World Records, and Public Choice International. Musicians have also received fourteen awards from twenty-two nominations at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards and Paneuropean Metal Awards combined. The band was ranked No. 24 in VH1's "100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock", No. 4 in MTV's "Top 10 Greatest Heavy Metal Bands of All Time", No. 3 in VH1 Classic's "Top 20 Metal Bands"., and was ranked as the most successful British metal group on Channel 4. In 2012 The Number of the Beast was voted as Best British Album Ever in the public poll related to Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. Iron Maiden were inducted into Hollywood RockWalk, BPI Hall of Fame and Kerrang! Hall of Fame. The band's movie Flight 666 was a part of prestigious British Music Experience exposition held in London, 2011 and Eddie the Head iconic mascot – monster was presented for the very first time at British Music Experience's doorway in Liverpool in 2017 and became a part of permanent exhibition. Iron Maiden are also a part of permanent exhibition of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Rock in Rio Wall of Fame and Wacken Open Air Hall of Fame. Band's mascot is a part of Rock Legends Wax Museum placed in Ontario. In February 2021, Iron Maiden were nominated for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class. The second nomination they received on 1 February 2023. In April 2021, ex-members of the band (Paul Di'Anno, Blaze Bayley and famous illustrator Derek Riggs) were inducted into the Metal Hall of Fame.
In January 2023 Iron Maiden were honoured by Royal Mail UK with dedicated postal stamps and cards. The band as 'bona fide' rock legends belongs to an elitarian circle of British iconic bands honoured with a unique range of stamps, including the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Queen and Iron Maiden as the fifth one. Iron Maiden have sold over 130 million copies of their albums worldwide, despite little radio or television support. According to many sources all audio-visual catalogue of the band has sold in over 200 million copies worldwide, including regular albums, singles, compilations, and videos. Their third studio album entitled The Number of the Beast is among the most popular heavy metal albums of all time and the most commercially successful release of the band, having sold almost 20 million copies worldwide. By 2022 their releases have been certified silver, gold and platinum around 600 times worldwide.
In 1979/1980, the visual artist Derek Riggs created the character of a macabre mascot named Eddie The Head. Since then, Eddie has been an integral part of the stage and media image of the group. Originally a papier-mâché mask incorporated in their backdrop which would squirt fake blood during their live shows, the name would be transferred to the character featured in the band's debut album cover, created by Derek Riggs. Eddie was painted exclusively by Riggs until 1992, at which point the band began using artwork from numerous other artists as well, including Melvyn Grant. In 2023, a special version of the legendary board game Monopoly dedicated to the British formation was released worldwide.
The huge puppet with the image of Eddie has appeared many times during the carnival celebrations in Rio de Janeiro and other South American cities, among other installations resembling the most famous stars of the stage, film, sports and influential personalities of world politics. During the Cavalcade of Magi 2021 in the Spanish city of Cadiz, next to dolls representing characters known from the world of pop culture, there was a huge, inflatable mummy inspired by the characteristic image of the Iron Maiden mascot from 1985. In addition to a wide range of widely available gadgets, the protagonist of which were the subsequent incarnations of the band's mascot, the image of Eddie turned out to be a popular theme for tattoos adorning various parts of the body of thousands of fans of SF / Fantasy aesthetics and heavy varieties of rock music. Iron Maiden's distinct logo has adorned all of the band's releases since their debut, 1979's The Soundhouse Tapes EP. The typeface originates with Vic Fair's poster design for the 1976 science fiction film, The Man Who Fell to Earth, also used by Gordon Giltrap, although Steve Harris claims that he designed it himself, using his abilities as an architectural draughtsman. Metal Lord / Iron Maiden, a characteristic font known from the group's classic logo, disseminated around the world by graphic works related to the band's activities, has found its way into pop culture for good, becoming a motif commonly used to create various logos and inscriptions.
At the beginning of January 2021, at general audience in Aula Paolo VI, Pope Francis was honoured with a circus show presented by 25 artists of Ronny Roller Circus, accompanied, among others, by presentation of the classic piece "The Trooper". It was the first time in history when a composition by a heavy metal artist was sounded in the Vatican. BMW in collaboration with Motorrad Bögel GmbH has created a customized model of the IRON R18 motorcycle inspired by Iron Maiden's unique musical and visual style. The German foundation, which aims to help young people with mental health problems, was named "Run to the Hills" after one of Iron Maiden's greatest hits. According to the president of the institution, the slogan "Run to the Hills" is about motivating people to overcome personal difficulties.
Kiss co-founder Paul Stanley noted that Iron Maiden "have helped spawn an entire genre of music" and influenced literally thousands of other artists. According to Guitar World, Iron Maiden's music has "influenced generations of newer metal acts, from legends like Metallica to current stars like Avenged Sevenfold," with Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich commenting that he has "always had an incredible amount of respect and admiration for them." Ulrich has frequently cited Iron Maiden as probably the biggest influence on Metallica's career. Metallica's guitarist Kirk Hammett described the cover of Iron Maiden's debut LP as his favourite album cover and stated that the song "Phantom of the Opera" from that album played an important role in his development as a guitarist. Hammett explained how "(...) a lot of guitar elements from that song can still be heard in his work with Metallica today". Jason Newsted, ex-bassist of Metallica, named two bands he believed made Metallica's success possible: AC/DC and Iron Maiden. Kerry King of Slayer stated that "they meant so much to [him] in their early days". Two of the founding members of Anthrax, guitarist Scott Ian and bassist Danny Lilker, have also cited Iron Maiden as one of the band's main influences and inspirations (especially early on in their career), the former going on to say that "they had a major impact on [his] life." Megadeth have cited Iron Maiden as one of their biggest inspiration on many different levels. Members of Testament have stated that Iron Maiden were one of their blueprint bands and have covered their songs many times. Exodus guitarist Gary Holt and late singer Paul Baloff have also acknowledged Iron Maiden as one of the band's influences, with the former citing both them and Judas Priest as "basically the calibre of the stuff [he] listened to" in Exodus' early years. Kurt Cobain, late founder, composer, vocalist and guitarist of Nirvana, was a big fan of Iron Maiden. Both former and current members of Suicidal Tendencies have also mentioned Iron Maiden as one of the sources of inspiration behind their music. Alice in Chains musicians mentioned about Iron Maiden's influences on them.
Other bands and artists which were influenced by Iron Maiden include Ghost, HIM, M. Shadows, Trivium,  Slipknot and Stone Sour, In Flames, Amon Amarth, Muse, Anthrax, Angra, Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, and others.
As noticed music journalist Geoff Barton, the band's music constituted an important passage between the classic heavy rock school of the turn of the 1960s and 1970s, based on rhythm 'n blues, and contemporary heavy metal, characterised by sub-genre diversification and stylistic eclecticism. According to Rock 'n Roll Fantasy Camp the style and attitude of Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain has inspired generations of heavy-metal drummers that followed. According to music journalist and the writer Neil Daniels Iron Maiden "redefined the whole genre blending classic heavy rock influence with punky vibe, twin guitars attack and progressive approach which finally have created the new quality. Band's influence on generations of rock and metal bands cannot be overstated. They elevated metal to an art form, proving that academic and musical inspirations can coexist." From the artist's profile published by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame it appears that "in the 1980s, Iron Maiden released seven high-octane albums that cemented them as one of the greatest rock bands – creating a blueprint for how heavy metal bands should look, sound and tour."
The first heavy metal videos in history broadcast by MTV were the images for the live versions of "Iron Maiden" and "Wrathchild" taken from official VHS Live at the Rainbow (Iron Maiden). In 1989, Iron Maiden's musicians took part in the Rock Aid Armenia project (also known as Live Aid Armenia) - a humanitarian aid from the British music industry. The aim of the project was to raise funds to help people affected by the earthquake in Armenia in 1988.
The number of releases in tribute to the British formation can be estimated in the hundreds, in an extremely wide range of stylistic variants. In 2008, Kerrang! released Maiden Heaven: A Tribute to Iron Maiden, an album composed of Iron Maiden cover songs performed by Metallica, Machine Head, Dream Theater, Trivium, Coheed and Cambria, Avenged Sevenfold, and other groups influenced by the band. In 2010, Maiden uniteD, an acoustic tribute band consisting of members of Ayreon, Threshold and Within Temptation, released Mind the Acoustic Pieces, a re-interpretation of the entire Piece of Mind album. As of 2021 nearly 200 Iron Maiden cover audio-visual releases exist (each featuring various artists), including piano, electro, string quartet and hip-hop tributes among many others.
In 1982, the band released one of their most popular, controversial and acclaimed albums, The Number of the Beast. The artwork and title track led to Christian groups in the United States branding the band as Satanists, encouraging people to destroy copies of the release. The band's manager, Rod Smallwood, later commented that Christians initially burnt the records, but later decided to destroy them with hammers due to fear of breathing in the melting vinyl's fumes. The protests were not restricted to the US, with Christian organisations preventing Iron Maiden from performing in Chile in 1992.
Contrary to the accusations, the band have always denied the notion that they are Satanists, with lead vocalist, Bruce Dickinson, doing so on-stage in the Live After Death concert video. Steve Harris has since commented that, "It was mad. They completely got the wrong end of the stick. They obviously hadn't read the lyrics. They just wanted to believe all that rubbish about us being Satanists." Harris has also stated that "The Number of the Beast" song was inspired by a nightmare he had after watching Damien: Omen II, and also influenced by Robert Burns' "Tam o' Shanter". Furthermore, the band's drummer, Nicko McBrain, has been a born-again Christian since 1999.
For their Somewhere Back in Time World Tour in 2008 and 2009, Iron Maiden commissioned an Astraeus Airlines Boeing 757 as transport. The aeroplane was converted into a combi configuration, which enabled it to carry the band, their crew and stage production, allowing the group to perform in countries which were previously deemed unreachable logistically. It was also repainted with a special Iron Maiden livery, which the airline decided to retain after receiving positive feedback from customers.
The aircraft, named "Ed Force One" after a competition on the band's website, was flown by Dickinson, as he was also a commercial airline pilot for Astraeus, and plays a major role in the award-winning documentary Iron Maiden: Flight 666, which was released in cinemas in 42 countries in April 2009. A different aeroplane (registered G-STRX) was used for The Final Frontier World Tour in 2011 with altered livery, adopting the artwork of The Final Frontier album, and features heavily in the 2012 documentary "Behind the Beast".
For The Book of Souls World Tour in 2016, the band upgraded to an ex-Air France Boeing 747-400 jumbo jet, supplied by Air Atlanta Icelandic (registered TF-AAK) and customised by Volga-Dnepr Gulf, which allows for more space without the aircraft having to undergo a significant conversion to carry their equipment. In January 2022, Bruce Dickinson told the Associated Press that he would not be piloting band's plane on their upcoming tour citing his nearing the mandatory age limit for commercial airline pilots. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), commercial pilots must retire at age 65. However, there is currently no maximum age limit for being a private pilot or for being an Air Force pilot.
Steve Harris, Iron Maiden's bassist and primary songwriter, has stated his influences include Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Uriah Heep, Pink Floyd, Genesis, Yes, Jethro Tull, Thin Lizzy, UFO, Queen and Wishbone Ash. In 2010 Harris said, "I think if anyone wants to understand Maiden's early thing, in particular the harmony guitars, all they have to do is listen to Wishbone Ash's Argus album. Thin Lizzy too, but not as much. And then we wanted to have a bit of a prog thing thrown in as well, because I was really into bands like Genesis and Jethro Tull. So you combine all that with the heavy riffs and the speed, and you've got it." In 2004, Harris explained that the band's "heaviness" was inspired by "Black Sabbath and Deep Purple with a bit of Zeppelin thrown in." Harris also developed his own playing style, which guitarist Janick Gers describes as "more like a rhythm guitar," cited as responsible for the band's galloping style, heard in such songs as "The Trooper" and "Run to the Hills."
The band's guitarists, Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, and Janick Gers, each have their own individual influences and playing styles. Dave Murray is known for his legato technique which, he claims, "evolved naturally. I'd heard Jimi Hendrix using legato when I was growing up, and I liked that style of playing." Stating that he "was inspired by blues rock rather than metal," Adrian Smith was influenced by Johnny Winter and Pat Travers, leading to him becoming a "melodic player." Janick Gers prefers a more improvised style, largely inspired by Ritchie Blackmore, which he claims is in contrast to Smith's "rhythmic" sound.
Singer Bruce Dickinson, who typically works in collaboration with guitarist Adrian Smith, has an operatic vocal style, inspired by Arthur Brown, Peter Hammill, Ian Anderson and Ian Gillan, and is often considered to be one of the best heavy metal vocalists of all time. Although Nicko McBrain has only received one writing credit, on the Dance of Death album, Harris often relies on him while developing songs. Adrian Smith commented, "Steve loves playing with him. [They] used to work for hours going over these bass and drum patterns."
Throughout their career, the band's style has remained largely unchanged, although the addition of guitar synthesisers on 1986's Somewhere in Time, keyboards on 1988's Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, and an attempt to return to the "stripped down" production of their earlier material on 1990's No Prayer for the Dying marked some experimentation. In recent years, however, the band have begun using more progressive elements in their songs, which Steve Harris describes as not progressive "in the modern sense, but like Dream Theater, more in a 70s way". According to Harris, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son was the band's first album which was "more progressive", and they would return to this style in 1995's The X Factor, which he states is "like an extension of Seventh Son..., in the sense of the progressive element to it". The development contrasts with the band's raw-sounding earlier material, which AllMusic states was "clearly drawing from elements of punk rock", although Harris firmly denies this.
Further information: List of Iron Maiden band members
Main articles: Iron Maiden discography and List of songs recorded by Iron Maiden
Main article: List of Iron Maiden concert tours
|Early Days Shows||May 1976 – Dec 1979||P. Di'Anno||S. Harris||D. Murray||D. Stratton||—||C. Burr||200|
|Metal for Muthas Tour||Feb 1980||30|
|Iron Maiden Tour||Apr – Dec 1980||127|
|Killer World Tour||Feb – Dec 1981||A. Smith||132|
|The Beast on the Road||Feb – Dec 1982||B. Dickinson||188|
|World Piece Tour||May – Dec 1983||N. McBrain||151|
|World Slavery Tour||Aug 1984 – Jul 1985||193|
|Somewhere on Tour||Sep 1986 – May 1987||157|
|Seventh Tour of a Seventh Tour||Apr – Dec 1988||103|
|No Prayer on the Road||Sep 1990 – Sep 1991||—||J. Gers||120|
|Fear of the Dark Tour||Jun – Nov 1992||66|
|Real Live Tour||Mar – Aug 1993||46|
|The X Factour||Sep 1995 – Sep 1996||B. Bayley||133|
|Virtual XI World Tour||Apr – Dec 1998||83|
|The Ed Hunter Tour||Jul – Oct 1999||B. Dickinson||A. Smith||31|
|Brave New World Tour||Jun 2000 – Mar 2002||91|
|Give Me Ed... 'Til I'm Dead Tour||May – Aug 2003||57|
|Dance of Death World Tour||Oct 2003 – Feb 2004||53|
|Eddie Rips Up the World Tour||May – Sep 2005||45|
|A Matter of Life and Death Tour||Oct 2006 – Jun 2007||60|
|Somewhere Back in Time World Tour||Feb 2008 – Apr 2009||91|
|The Final Frontier World Tour||Jun 2010 – Aug 2011||101|
|Maiden England World Tour||Jun 2012 – Jul 2014||100|
|The Book of Souls World Tour||Feb 2016 – Jul 2017||117|
|Legacy of the Beast World Tour||May 2018 – Oct 2022||140|
|The Future Past World Tour||May 2023 – 2024||37|
Main article: List of awards and nominations received by Iron Maiden
hitting the number one spot in 28 countries
when Dickinson re-entered the fold in 1999 the band's ensuing career made them bigger than ever
From the supposed attendance of 250,000 people...
...largely without the help of radio airplay or the mainstream media.
...the often criticised Blaze Bayley himself. With his lower vocal range, he may not have been able to sing the old Iron Maiden classics as well as Bruce...