During the 1980s, Iron Maiden released seven high octane albums that solidified them as one of rock’s biggest bands – creating the blueprint for how heavy metal bands should look, sound, and tour. With their blend of punk, early metal, and progressive rock fused into a blistering assault of guitars, a driving rhythm section, and soaring vocals, they could switch gears at a moment’s notice to take audiences on an expressive atmospheric journey.
Formed in 1975 by bassist Steve Harris, the band’s lineup shifted numerous times before the release of their self-titled debut in 1980. The album features vocalist Paul Di’Anno growling punk rock blasters like “Iron Maiden,” along with stunning technical guitar and bass performances. The cover art featured Maiden’s punk rock-inspired zombie “mascot” Eddie (who has appeared on every cover since) and their iconic stylized logo, creating an entire fantasy world for fans. In 1981, Iron Maiden was the first metal band played on MTV. With growing success and recognition, the 1982 lineup of Harris, guitarists Dave Murray and Adrian Smith, drummer Clive Burr, and new vocalist Bruce Dickinson recorded what is widely considered one of the best metal albums of all time, The Number of the Beast. The title track features one of the greatest blood-curdling screams in rock history while the band rages at a furious pace. The album caused a massive controversy and cries of “satanism!” from religious groups while simultaneously enrapturing a massive teenage fanbase.
The addition of new drummer Nicko McBrain in 1982 solidified the classic lineup, and the band’s next four albums – Piece of Mind (1983), Powerslave (1984), Somewhere in Time (1986), and Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (1988) – continued expanding the musical boundaries of metal music. Lauded as a foundation of the new wave of British heavy metal, Iron Maiden continues to make groundbreaking albums (with over 100 million sold), tour the world (over 2,000 shows played, selling out stadiums and arenas), and influence generations of fans and fellow musicians, including Metallica, Dream Theater, and Coheed and Cambria.
Nominees: Clive Burr, Paul Di’Anno, Bruce Dickinson, Janick Gers, Steve Harris, Nicko McBrain, Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, Dennis Stratton
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