The early days (1975–1978)
Iron Maiden were formed on Christmas Day 1975, by bassist Steve Harris, shortly after he left his previous group, Smiler. Harris attributes the band name to a movie adaptation of The Man in the Iron Mask from the novel by Alexandre Dumas,and starring Patrick Mcgoohan (who also starred in the 1960's series The Prisoner) which he saw around that time, and so the group was christened after the purported torture device.
Steve Harris and guitarist Dave Murray remain the longest-surviving members of Iron Maiden to this day. Original vocalist Paul Day was fired as he lacked "energy or charisma onstage". He was replaced by Dennis Wilcock, a Kiss fan who utilised fire, make-up and fake blood during live performances. Wilcock's friend, Dave Murray, was invited to join, to the frustration of guitarists Dave Sullivan and Terry Rance. This fueled Harris to temporarily split the band in 1976, though the group reformed soon after with Murray as the sole guitarist.
Iron Maiden recruited another guitarist in 1977, Bob Sawyer, who caused a rift between Murray and Wilcock, prompting Harris to fire both Murray and Sawyer. A poor gig at the Bridgehouse in November 1977, with a makeshift line-up including Tony Moore on keyboards, Terry Wapram on guitar, and drummer Barry Purkis resulted in Harris firing the entire band. Dave Murray was reinstated and Doug Sampson was hired as drummer.
 Rise to fame (1978-1981)
A chance meeting at the Red Lion pub in Leytonstone evolved into a successful audition for vocalist Paul Di'Anno. Steve Harris has 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."
Iron Maiden had been playing for three years, but had never recorded any of their music. On New Year's Eve 1978, the band recorded a demo, The Soundhouse Tapes. Featuring only three songs, the band sold all five thousand copies within weeks. One track found on the demo, "Prowler", went to number one on Neal Kay's Heavy Metal Soundhouse charts in Sounds magazine. Their first appearance on an album was on the compilation Metal for Muthas (released on 15 February 1980) with two early versions of "Sanctuary" and "Wrathchild".
From late 1977 to 1978, Murray was the sole guitarist in the band until Paul Cairns joined in 1979. Shortly before going into the studio, Cairns left the band. Several other guitarists were temporarily hired until the band finally settled on Dennis Stratton. Initially, the band wanted to hire Dave Murray's childhood friend Adrian Smith, but Smith was busy with his own band, Urchin. Drummer Doug Sampson was also replaced by Clive Burr (who was brought into the band by Stratton). In December 1979, the band landed a major record deal with EMI.
Iron Maiden's eponymous 1980 release, Iron Maiden, made number 4 in the UK Albums Chart in its first week of release, and the group became one of the leading proponents of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement. In addition to the title track, the album includes other early favourites such as "Running Free", "Transylvania", "Phantom of the Opera", and "Sanctuary" — which was not on the original UK release but made the U.S. release and subsequent re-releases. The band played a headline tour of the UK then went on to open for Kiss on their 1980 Unmasked Tour's European leg. Iron Maiden also supported Judas Priest on select dates. After the Kiss tour, Dennis Stratton was fired from the band as a result of creative and personal differences. Stratton was replaced by Adrian Smith in October 1980.
In 1981, Maiden released their second album, titled Killers. This new album contained many tracks that had been written prior to the release of the debut album, but were considered surplus. With songs already shaped on the road well in advance, only two new tracks were written for the album: "Prodigal Son" and "Murders in the Rue Morgue" (the title was taken from the short story by Edgar Allan Poe).
 International success (1981-1986)
By 1981, Paul Di'Anno was demonstrating increasingly self-destructive behaviour, particularly through cocaine usage. His performances began to suffer, just as the band was beginning to achieve large-scale success in America. At the end of 1981 the band fired Di'Anno and began to seek a new vocalist.
Bruce Dickinson, previously of Samson, auditioned for Iron Maiden in September 1981 and joined the band shortly afterwards. He then went out on the road with the band on a small headlining tour. In anticipation of the band's forthcoming album, the band played "Children of the Damned", "Run to the Hills", "22 Acacia Avenue" and "The Prisoner" at select venues, introducing fans to the sound that the band was progressing towards.
Dickinson's recorded debut with Iron Maiden was 1982's The Number of the Beast, an album that claimed the band their first ever UK Albums Chart number 1 record and additionally became a Top Ten hit in many other countries. For the second time the band went on a world tour, visiting the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, UK and Germany. The tour's U.S. leg was marred by controversy stemming from an American right-wing political pressure group that (wrongfully) claimed Iron Maiden was Satanic because of the new album's title track. The band members' attempts to deflect the criticism failed to dampen persistent accusations. A group of Christian activists went on to destroy Iron Maiden records (along with those of Ozzy Osbourne) in protest against the band.
Dickinson at the time was still in legal difficulties with Samson's management, and was not permitted to add his name to any of the songwriting credits. However, he was still able to lend "creative influence" to many of the songs.
In December 1982, drummer Clive Burr left the band due to personal and tour schedule problems. He was replaced by Nicko McBrain, previously of French band Trust. Shortly afterwards, in 1983, the band released Piece of Mind.
Following the success of Piece of Mind, the band released Powerslave on September 9, 1984. The album featured fan favourites "2 Minutes to Midnight", "Aces High", and "Rime of The Ancient Mariner", the latter based on Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem of the same name and running over 13 minutes in length. "Back in the Village" followed up on an earlier hit "The Prisoner", both based on the television show starring Patrick McGoohan.
The tour following the album, dubbed the World Slavery Tour, was the band's biggest to date and consisted of 193 shows over 13 months. This was one of the biggest tours in music history. Many shows were played back-to-back in the same city, such as in Long Beach, California, where most of the recordings were made for their subsequent live release Live After Death. This tour was physically grueling for the band and they took a 6-month break when it ended. This was the first break in the band's history, including even cancelling a proposed supporting tour for the new live album.
 Experimentation (1986-1990)
Returning from their break, the band adopted a different approach for their 1986 studio album, titled Somewhere in Time. This was not a concept album, though it was themed loosely around the idea of time travel. It also included associated themes - history, the passage of time, and long journeys. It featured, for the first time in the band's history, synthesized bass and guitars sounds to add textures and layers to the sound. Though considered different from the norm of Maiden sounds, it charted well across the world, especially with the single "Wasted Years". The band had resisted using synthetic sounds before, and still insisted on not using keyboards. At the time they claimed the music was still 'real' since actual guitars/bass guitars had been used.
The experimentation on Somewhere in Time led to a follow-up in Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, 1988. Adding to Iron Maiden's experimentation, it was a concept album featuring a story about a mythical child who possessed clairvoyant powers. For the first time, the band used keyboards on a recording, as opposed to guitar synthesisers on the previous release. Critics stated this produced a more accessible release. It was a huge success, and became the band's second album to hit #1 in the UK charts.
In 1990, to close Iron Maiden's first ten years of releasing singles, Iron Maiden released The First Ten Years, a series of ten CDs and double 12" vinyls. Between February 24 and April 28, 1990, the individual parts were released one-by-one, and each contains two of Iron Maiden's singles, including the B-sides.
 Upheaval (1990–1994)
In 1989, after touring with Iron Maiden, guitarist Adrian Smith released a solo album with his band ASAP entitled Silver and Gold. In 1990, vocalist Bruce Dickinson launched a solo career with former Gillan guitarist Janick Gers, releasing Tattooed Millionaire. The band had spent 1989 off, and Dickinson took this time to work on the album. Though seen as good creations at the time, these solo albums would eventually inspire both band members to leave later on.[original research?]
Soon after work on a new album began, Adrian Smith was let go due to lack of enthusiasm. Bruce Dickinson's solo project guitarist Janick Gers was chosen to replace Smith - the first new member in seven years. When Dickinson left Maiden in 1993, he would later regroup with Smith.
In 1990, Iron Maiden released the album No Prayer for the Dying. This album had a raw sound compared to their recent releases and featured one last song co-written by Adrian Smith, "Hooks in You", despite Smith's having left the band prior to the recording of the album.
The band obtained their first (and to date, only) UK Singles Chart number one hit single with "Bring Your Daughter... to the Slaughter", originally recorded by Dickinson for the soundtrack to A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child. It was released on December 24, 1990, and was one of the first records to be released on several different formats with different B-sides. The single holds the record for being the fastest release straight in to number one and straight out of the charts again over the following couple of weeks.
Dickinson performed a solo tour in 1991 before returning to the studio with Iron Maiden for the album Fear of the Dark. Released in 1992, the album was noticeably longer (due to this being Iron Maiden's first album recorded for CD rather than LP) and had several songs which became fan favourites, such as the title track and "Afraid to Shoot Strangers". The disc also featured "Wasting Love," one of the band's softer songs, and "From Here to Eternity," the third installment of the 'Charlotte the Harlot' narrative (although some fans will argue that 'Hooks in You' is actually the third installment, making 'From Here to Eternity' the fourth). The album featured the first songwriting by Gers, and no collaboration at all between Harris and Dickinson on songs.
In 1993, Bruce Dickinson left the band to further pursue his solo career. However, Dickinson agreed to stay with the band for a farewell tour and two live albums (later re-released in one package). The first, A Real Live One, featured songs from 1986 to 1992, and was released in March 1993. The second, A Real Dead One, featured songs from 1975 to 1984, and was released after Dickinson had left the band. He played his farewell show with Iron Maiden on August 28, 1993. The show was filmed, broadcast by the BBC, and released on video under the name Raising Hell.
 Winds of change (1994-1999)
In 1994 the band auditioned hundreds of vocalists, both known and unknown before choosing Blaze Bayley, formerly of the band Wolfsbane. Bayley had a different vocal style from his predecessor, which ultimately received a mixed reception among fans.
After a two year hiatus (and three year hiatus from recording - a record for the band at the time) Iron Maiden returned in 1995. Releasing The X Factor, the band faced their lowest chart position since 1981 for an album in the UK (debuting at number 8). Chief songwriter Harris was experiencing personal problems at the time with the break-up of his marriage, and many fans and critics feel the album's sound is a reflection of this.
The album included the 11-minute epic "Sign of the Cross", the band's longest song since "Rime of the Ancient Mariner". It also included "Man on the Edge", based on the movie Falling Down. The band toured for the rest of 1995 and 1996, before stopping to release The Best of the Beast. The band's first compilation, it included the single "Virus", a new song.
The band returned to the studio for Virtual XI, released in 1998. Chart positions of the album were the band's lowest to date, failing to reach the one million mark in worldwide sales for the first time in Iron Maiden's history. At the same time, Steve Harris assisted in remastering the entire discography of Iron Maiden up to Live at Donington (which was given a mainstream release for the first time) and released the set.
 Reunion (1999–2005)
In February 1999, Bayley left the band by mutual consent. At the same time, the band shocked their fans when they announced that both Bruce Dickinson and guitarist Adrian Smith were rejoining the band, and that Janick Gers would remain. Iron Maiden now had three guitarists and a hugely successful reunion tour, The Ed Hunter Tour. This tour also supported the band's newly released computer game Ed Hunter.
Iron Maiden's first studio work after the reunion with Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith came in the form of 2000's Brave New World. The album was met with much critical acclaim. Thematic influences continued with "The Wicker Man" — based on the 1973 British cult film of the same name — and "Brave New World" — title taken from the novel of the same name.
The world tour that followed consisted of well over 100 dates 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 around 250,000. This performance was recorded and released on CD and DVD in March 2002 under the name Rock in Rio.
In 2003, Iron Maiden released Dance of Death. As usual, historical and literary influences continued — "Montsegur" in particular being about the Cathar stronghold conquered in 1244 and "Paschendale" relating to a significant battle during World War I.
Their performance at Westfalenhalle in Dortmund, Germany, as part of the supporting tour, was recorded and released in August 2005 as a live album and DVD, entitled Death on the Road.
In 2005, the band announced a tour to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the release of their first album, Iron Maiden, and the 30th anniversary of their formation. The tour also was in support of the 2004 DVD entitled The Early Days and as such during the tour they only played material from their first four albums. As part of the celebration of their early days, the "Number of the Beast" single was re-released and went straight to number 3 in the UK Chart.
At Iron Maiden's last Ozzfest performance (August 20, 2005 at the Hyundai Pavilion at Glen Helen in San Bernardino, CA), Sharon Osbourne interrupted their performance by turning off the PA system and chanting: "Ozzy! Ozzy!".
The band completed this tour by headlining the Reading and Leeds weekend festivals on the 26th and 28 August, 2005. For the second time, the band played a charity show for former drummer Clive Burr's Clive Burr MS Trust Fund charity.
 Recent years (2006-present)
In Autumn 2006, Iron Maiden released A Matter of Life and Death. While the album is not a concept album, war and religion are recurring themes in the lyrics throughout, as well as in the album's artwork.
A successful North American and European tour followed, during which they played the album in its entirety, a first for the band. The band have announced that a live album recorded from this tour will be released. It was during this tour in 2007 that Iron Maiden played in Bangalore, India for the first time in front of 35,000 fans. The band also headlined The Desert Rock Festival in Dubai, selling out the festival with a crowd of 20,000.
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).
In November 2006, Iron Maiden and manager Rod Smallwood announced that they were cutting their 27-year-old ties with Sanctuary Music and starting a new company named Phantom Music Management. No other significant changes were made.
In 2007 the band played in Dubai for the annual Dubai Desert Rock Festival.
In 2007, the band confirmed several major festival appearances worldwide for the year to form the second leg of the A Matter of Life and Death tour, now dubbed A Matter of the Beast to celebrate the 25th anniversary of The Number of the Beast album. The band announced plans to play five songs from A Matter of Life and Death and five from The Number of the Beast as part of their set but the band played only four songs from The Number of the Beast. On the June 24 they ended the tour with a one-off performance at London's Brixton Academy in aid of The Clive Burr MS Trust fund.
On September 5, 2007, the band announced their Somewhere Back in Time World Tour., which ties in with the DVD release of their Live After Death album. The setlist for the tour will consists of hits from the 80s, with a specific focus on the Powerslave era for set design. The tour started in Mumbai, India on February 1, 2008 where the band played to an audience of about 30,000. The first leg of the tour consisted of 24 concerts in 21 cities, travelling over 50,000 miles in the band's own chartered plane "Ed Force One" - they played their first ever concerts in Costa Rica and Colombia and their first Australian show since 1992. On May 12th, the band released a new compilation album, titled Somewhere Back In Time - The Best Of: 1980-1989. It contains a selection of tracks from their 1980 eponymous debut to 1988's Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, including several live versions from Live After Death.
This tour also marks the first Western Canada leg in 20 years, on which all Canadian dates sold out within a couple of days. With the sole UK headline show at Twickenham Stadium, this tour also marks the first ever stadium headlining show in the UK by the band.
During the Somewhere Back In Time tour, Bruce Dickinson has said that there are plans for Iron Maiden to write and record a new album, most likely to come out next year. Dickinson has also been informing audiences that future tours will feature more recent Iron Maiden material.
Janick Gers and Steve Harris.
Dave Murray and Adrian Smith.
(L-R) Adrian Smith, Dave Murray, Janick Gers, Steve Harris.
 Image and legacy
Iron Maiden were ranked #24 in VH1's "100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock", and in Kerrang! magazine were ranked as the most important band of the last 25 years. The band were ranked fourth on MTV's "Top 10 Greatest Heavy Metal Bands of All Time". Iron Maiden were named the third best metal band of all time on VH1 Classic: Top 20 Metal Bands. The band also won the Ivor Novello Award for international achievement in 2002. The band was also inducted into the Hollywood RockWalk during their tour in the United States in 2005.
Iron Maiden frequently uses the slogan "Up the Irons" in their disc liner notes, and the phrase can also be seen on several t-shirts officially licensed by the band. Fans have been known to use the phrase as a greeting or sign-off to other Iron Maiden fans.
Iron Maiden's mascot, Eddie, is a perennial fixture in the band's sci-fi and horror-influenced album cover art, as well as in live shows. Eddie was drawn by Derek Riggs until 1992, although there have been various incarnations by numerous artists including Melvyn Grant. Eddie is also featured in a first-person shooter video game from the band, Ed Hunter, as well as numerous books, graphic comics and band-related merchandise.
In 2008, Kerrang! released an album, entitled Maiden Heaven: A Tribute to Iron Maiden, comprised of Iron Maiden cover songs played by artists such as Metallica, Trivium, Machine Head, Avenged Sevenfold and others who were influenced by Iron Maiden throughout their careers. Well over a half-dozen other Iron Maiden tribute albums (each featuring various artists) exist, including a piano tribute, an electro tribute and a hip-hop tribute.
Iron Maiden has had music featured on multiple rhythm video games: Guitar Hero II with the song "The Trooper"; Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock with the song "The Number of the Beast"; and Rock Band with the song "Run to the Hills", along with a download of "The Number of the Beast" available on the Xbox Live Marketplace and the Playstation Network.
"2 Minutes to Midnight" is also featured in the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and "The Number Of The Beast" in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4.