Iron Maiden are one of the most successful, acclaimed and important heavy metal bands in history, with a run of success that has rarely faltered over four decades, despite experiencing trying personnel issues over that time. Bassist Steve Harris founded Iron Maiden in the mid-1970s, but was waylaid for years playing in London pubs while punk rock dominated Britain’s musical zeitgeist and heavy metal was out of favor. But Harris would not be deterred and his band duly became the lynchpins of the era-defining New Wave of British Heavy Metal, with the release of their 1980 debut album and ’81’s ‘Killers,’ featuring singer Paul Di’Anno, guitarists Dave Murray and Adrian Smith, and drummer Clive Burr. Bruce Dickinson replaced Di’Anno for 1982’s ‘The Number of the Beast’ and Nicko McBrain stepped in for Burr on 1983’s ‘Piece of Mind,’ initiating a period of unmatched prosperity, backed by extensive global touring (chronicled on 1985’s ‘Live After Death’) and future standards of the genre like ‘Powerslave’ (1984), ‘Some-where in Time’ (1986) and ‘Seventh Son of a Seventh Son’ (1988). As if all this weren’t enough, the band even regaled heavy metal with one of its greatest icons, and surely its most famous mascot in Eddie the ‘ed, whose grotesque visage decorated all of their al-bum covers. Iron Maiden’s juggernaut finally hit a few speed bumps during the grunge-dominated 1990s, when first Smith, then Dickinson, departed for solo careers and were replaced by guitarist Janick Gers and vocalist Blaze Bailey, respectively, for a pair of poorly received LPs. Luckily, both Smith and Dickinson rejoined in the year 2000 for what proved to be a triumphant reunion (Bailey was fired and Gers retained in a new three-guitar front line). Now a sextet, Iron Maiden quickly regained their status atop the heavy metal firmament with best-selling albums like ‘Brave New World’ and ‘A Matter of Life and Death,’ as well as sold out tours taking them to every corner of the globe, as documented by 2009’s excellent ‘Flight 666’ documentary. When all is said and done, Iron Maiden will likely figure among the all-time giants of heavy metal, alongside Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and Metallica.
Selected Discography: ‘Iron Maiden’ (1980), ‘The Number of the Beast’ (1982), ‘Piece of Mind’ (1983), ‘Powerslave’ (1984), ‘Brave New World’ (2000)