Rocking Tunes: Check
Kicking type treatment: Check
Iconic Characters: Check
Merchandise coming out of their asses: Check
Band members not dead: Check
Business Savvy: Check
No, it’s not KISS it’s Iron Maiden. Up the Irons!
You have to hand it to Iron Maiden and their dedication to their mascot Eddie. He’s gotta be second to McDonald’s Ronald McDonald in terms of mascot power and if they met in the Thunderdome you know the ginger clown wouldn’t be coming out.
With their 2008 tour coming to a close, a new DVD and best of album out there is no better time to do an Iron Maiden feature.
I want to preface this feature to say I’m not a major Iron Maiden fan. In fact, if a gang of fans surrounded me and told me to whistle a Maiden tune I’d be screwed. Chalk this up to my age and the fact I was a Sepultura fan during my metal days of the 90′s. I have however had this feature ordained by the two official metal fans in the office.
I was initially going to feature all the covers of Iron Maiden and showcase Eddie’s 27+ year career. Little did I know that there is almost a hundred covers and thousands of pieces of merchandise sporting his face. So I’ve taken the easy way out and just focused on the studio albums. Well I added the few extra ones the band features on their official website too.
The majority of Iron Maidens artwork from 1980 were created by Derek Riggs. He’s just released a book titled “Run for Cover the art of Derek Riggs” which not only has hundreds of full page illustrations but sketches and back story to each cover. Including info about deadlines, egos, falling out and other juicy bits. I’m still getting through it. So rather than rewrite all of this I encourage any fan to pick up a copy.
One interesting point Derek makes is that albums could have up to 15 different pieces of artwork covering posters, mag covers, tickets, singles and what not. It was this mass saturation he attributed to the success of the albums and pity’s those bands that tried to do the same with just one piece of art.
The album cover also becomes part of the stage show for the band. Whether it be props or costumes the members where. They really put their all into an albums concept. No live show would be complete without an entrance from Eddie.
I’d also like to point out that the Iron Maiden logo has stayed the same throughout the years and is just as iconic as Eddie. Other bands have optimised and adapted theirs with times but Iron Maiden’s has remained true to it’s original form.
Ok down to the albums + other odds and ends.
Note: I did this kind of feature before with Cannibal Corpse. Which is still one of the most popular posts on the blog. I’m not rating these covers on their “design athetics” I’m rating them on their importance to the band and genre. Some bands create well designed covers but few create iconic images. In an industry where touring and merchandise are so important it helps to have a style that can easily be translated across all mediums and will be lapped up by fans.
Note2: Many of the covers I found were of bad quality. If you have a better version of any of these albums in a 500px or wider format please contact us.
The first Iron Maiden cover. Although this wasn’t the first commissioned piece by Derek Riggs. The first piece produced for the band was this one for Running Free.
In 1998 the album was remastered as was the cover art. A bit of botox and polish for Eddie.
The Number Of The Beast
Piece Of Mind
This cover not only generated a cool looking desk toy but also many spoofs.
I also found this Sponge Bob mashup. I love these!
Live After Death
This was the tour that was filmed for the recent Live After Death DVD.
Somewhere in Time
Here’s a look at the full wrap around cover. Many of their albums featured full covers like this but it’s hard to track down good scans.
For an in depth look into the hidden messages of this cover check this article here. Obsessive fan alert!! :)
This cover has also been made into an action figure. Anyone with some better photos of this please let us know.
I also found this funny mashup with Christina Aguilera.
Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
No Prayer For The Dying
This was the original 1990 cover. The 1998 remastered version was sans old dude, which I feel works better. The old dude was a little too comical and the cover has more impact without him.
The plaque on the tombstone also has the inscription “After the Daylight, The Night of Pain, That is not Dead, Which Can Rise Again”. Deep man…
Fear of the Dark
This is the first Iron Maiden cover not to feature the artwork of Derek Riggs. It’s also the only cover to feature the bands name on it’s side. The cover was painted by Melvyn Grant, the second most popular Iron Maiden artist. Determined by the number of covers painted, not a recent show of hands in the bands green room.
Wikipedia says that three artists were commissioned to design a cover and this was chosen but according to Derek Riggs in his book the band pretty much shafted the artist after changing their mind twice (“we want a warewolf Eddie, no make that a vampire Eddie”) and he eventually gave up and said to get someone else to do it.
A Real Live Dead One
This was originally released as 2 albums – ‘A Real Live One’ and ‘A Real Dead One’. A quick tweak to the cover and you got yourself another CD pulling in the dosh. Sneaky.
Live At Donington
WTF an Iron Maiden cover without Eddie? It was originally only released as a limited edition triple vinyl set, but became a regular part of the band’s CD catalogue with the 1998 reissues.
Below is the 1998 re-released version which featured a cover created from an original tour poster by Mark Wilkinson.
I really like the stamp treatment the logo received on this album. But I guess it’s not classic Maiden and less iconic.
You’ll notice a lot of albums were re-released in 1998. I’m not sure what happened in 1998 but the guys must have made a packet that year or EMI decided to call in their loans. 1999 saw the return of Bruce Dickinson so you’d hope he saw a piece of this action.
This was the first non painted cover for Iron Maiden. This time Eddie was created as a diorama by Hugh Syme. It was the first, and only, time the band faced censorship over their cover and had to release the alternate version below in some areas. This was just the artwork used on the back of the original album.
Compared to the Cannibal Corpse stuff this is tame.
Luckily this is the bands tenth album. Because their description on Wikipedia on how they came up with the album name (and the name itself) is lame.
According to producer Nigel Green:
“We all felt that the way things were progressing – the songs, Blaze’s new involvement, the sound, the commitment – the new album really would have that extra quality, that bit of magic, that X Factor. This became the working title for the album and we liked it…”
This sounds about right coming from a man named Nigel Green.
Best of the Beast
This is poster fodder. No wonder Derek Riggs explains that Iron Maiden had the top 3 selling posters, when posters were big. It’s like a high school reunion for burn victims.
This is the one cover I can’t seem to track down who created it. Any help from fans?
One note about the album’s cover is that 1998 is way to late in the game to be using the word “virtual”. It’s about as cool as these two guys with their VR helmets.
Or this couple playing that VR game of 1995.
Anyway it seems this album wasn’t their best one and they regrouped with Bruce for the next one.
If you need any proof that the success of Iron Maiden and Ed had gone too far, then feast your eyes on Ed Hunter. This was a on rails first person shooter game and album in one.
You may think that this was 9 years ago and games then weren’t that good but Quake was released 3 years earlier! So just like with the use of the word “Virtual” the band should been slapped and told to stop trying to be cool.
Brave New World
Here we see the return of Derek Riggs, well almost, he painted the face in the sky and then they added the 3D world under it. This was his last new artwork to grace an Iron Maiden cover. The story of this cover is similar to the previous one. I think Derek just stopped answering their calls.
The album was originally to be called Wicker Man but this eventually become the name of the first single off the album. While I haven’t shown any other singles in this feature I have to point of this one. It covers both one of my fav pieces and one of the worst.
First up is one of my favs the limited edition cover by Mark Wilkinson.
Mark has even gone through his process on his site with a tutorial on this piece which details his process and the bands.
Even his initial sketch is great.
His final piece in it’s full glory.
And what did the band use as the official single cover? It must be great to top the other two pieces?!
Yep this photo of Bruce waving his big flaming dick around with a mopey look on his face.
I can forgive the 3D world, the crappy PC game and even the use of the world “virtual” but any hard core Iron Maiden fan must have felt sharp stabbing pains in their eye when they saw this. Sadly it wasn’t the last time the band felt they could give Eddie a break.
Here’s one of the rejected artworks from Derek Riggs (the other two are in his book). You can see they ended up just using the Eddie head in the sky above the awful 3D city. This futuristic city might have been cool in a 1960′s kids book but for an album in 2000 it’s just try hard.
Dance of Death
Someone fell asleep on the approval train when this one went through. The artist David Patchett asked for his named not to be credited as the band had decided to use a prototype image as the final image. While there is little talk about the Wicker Man single this cover caused a huge stir when it was initially shown online. Fan’s thought it was a joke and rightly so. Maiden-World.com has gone through and found all the mistakes in the cover for you. Let’s move on quickly.
I can’t find any official credit info for this album. It feels like a Derek Rigg’s piece though.
You’d have to be allergic to metal to not want to get your hands on this box set. This almost makes up for the lack luster covers of the past few albums.
Best Of The B-Sides
Another Mark Wilkinson piece. This one with a sense of humor. “Up the Irons” is a Iron Maiden catch phrase.
A Matter Of Life And Death
This seems like a return to form for not just the band in terms of success but also in cover art. Painted by Tim Bradstreet its the first time the band has tried to be timely with their imagery (this time war) and not look try hard. Tim is best known for his work ont he Marvel comic Punisher among others.
Somewhere Back In Time: The Best of: 1980 – 1989
Ok it’s another “best of” complication but this shows you the progression of Eddie. The level of detail has increased significantly.
The album cover features the Pharaoh Eddie monument from Powerslave and Cyborg Eddie from Somewhere in Time. In addition, the Iron Maiden logo is colored blue with a gold outline – the same colours used on the cover of Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.
I pity any person who is trying to collect all the Eddie merchandise they can. Give up now. A quick check of Google Images will show you the scale of which Eddie has become an icon. Oh an Eddie tattoo would be cool though…. mmmm.
There is so much more Eddie stuff to show but I’ll leave it up to you to seek them out. These even include the Iron Maiden private plane Ed Force One. I’m not kidding.
You can download the Iron Maiden font Metal Lord here. Sweet!
Everything looks cool when set in Metal Lord.
P.S. Derek’s personal site seems to be down now.