Founded by bassist Steve Harris on Christmas Day 1975, Iron Maiden went through a steady evolution and series of lineup changes that continued even as their first two albums began earning them a devoted worldwide following. The arrival of singer Bruce Dickinson for 1982’s The Number of the Beast marked a career-acceleration point, and the following year, the classic lineup of Harris, Dickinson, drummer Nicko McBrain and guitarists Dave Murray and Adrian Smith locked into place and reeled off a rapid-fire barrage of legacy-defining albums: Piece of Mind, Powerslave, Somewhere in Time and Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.
Dickinson left in 1993, in the midst of a relative creative and commercial lull in the band’s career. But his 1999 return reenergized the band, which has gone on to release more successful albums and mount sold-out arena and stadium tours, cementing its status as one of the most enduring and important metal bands of all time. Below, we outline 5 Reasons Iron Maiden Should Be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
The General Strength of Their Resume
For more than four decades now Iron Maiden been one of the most popular, influential and uncompromising bands in the world. They’ve sold more than 100 million albums worldwide and have maintained their status as arena headliners throughout both of their Bruce Dickinson-fronted eras. This is all despite the fact they’ve never had a single reach the main charts in the U.S. – they’ve cracked the Top 10 on the mainstream rock charts once only once, peaking at No. 8 with “Flight of Icarus” in July 1983. Regardless, every new record qualifies as a Grade-A event in the metal community, and merchandise featuring their ubiquitous undead mascot Eddie continues to fly off shelves.
They’ve Influenced Future Generations
Another easy way to measure Iron Maiden’s influence is to ask the next generation of metal bands for their opinion. “I don’t think Metallica would be where Metallica is today if it wasn’t for Iron Maiden,’ Lars Ulrich told MusicRadar in 2011. “Not only paving the way but also for just inspiring me in 1981 to form a band.” When asked to pick his 10 favorite metal albums by Rolling Stone in 2017, Slayer guitarist Kerry King had trouble singling out just one Maiden album. “I love the first three equally,” he said. “I went with [1982’s] The Number of the Beast because that was Bruce’s first record, and he just stomped all over everybody’s guts on that record. … Bruce was the singer that made them metal royalty.” “I fucking lived and breathed Iron Maiden,” Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian said of his younger days in his 2015 autobiography, I’m the Man: The Story of That Guy from Anthrax. “That’s what I wanted to be from 1980 to 1985. Whatever we did, we looked to Iron Maiden because they did it best.”
They’re the True Kings of D.I.Y.
Iron Maiden never chased trends or allowed any outside interference to compromise their creative vision. If they felt like writing a 10- or 14-minute opus about Alexander the Great or Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s longest poem, that’s exactly what they’d do. As a result, they’ve built an unshakable bond with millions of fans and a cottage industry the size of a large nation. For more than 40 years they’ve maintained the same hands-on, do-it-yourself ethos championed by each new wave of young bands. It’s just the scale that’s changed and to unimaginable levels. They still handle their own transportation from show to show; it’s just they do it in a jumbo jet piloted by singer Bruce Dickinson instead of a van. They even curated their own brand of beer, which sold 3.5 million pints the first year.
They’re Not Coasting on Past Glories
At an age when most bands are happy to coast on their past glories, Iron Maiden continue to challenge themselves and their fans. Just check out 2106’s double album The Book of Souls for proof. The sold-out arena tour that followed found the band performing nearly half the album onstage each night, instead of the usual one or two new “pee break” songs most bands toss into their set lists. And they sounded like instant classics in the setting.
They’re Not Showing Up Anyway
If Iron Maiden somehow find themselves facing induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, ceremony organizers can probably save themselves some time and not bother getting a table ready. “I’m really happy we’re not there, and I would never want to be there,” Bruce Dickinson said in a 2018 interview. “If we’re ever inducted, I will refuse — they won’t bloody be having my corpse in there. Rock ‘n’ roll music does not belong in a mausoleum in Cleveland. It’s a living, breathing thing, and if you put it in a museum, then it’s dead. It’s worse than horrible, it’s vulgar.”