UK Heavy Metal band Iron Maiden are currently on tour in South Africa. They are playing shows in Cape Town (at Grand West Casino) and in Johannesburg (at Carnival City).
Excitement levels are reaching extreme proportions, especially for fans who did not see them when they last played here in 1995 (when Blaze Bayley was their lead vocalist, not Bruce Dickinson).
Like many of you reading this, I’m extremely amped to watch these legends of Heavy Metal live, so I though I’d do my bit to add to the excitement. Here’s 10 facts about Iron Maiden you may or may not have known.
- Iron Maiden was formed in 1975 in Leyton (on the Eastern side of London) by bassist Steve Harris (who is also the primary songwriter for the band).
- The current members of the band are Steve Harris (on bass, backing vocals and keyboards), Dave Murray (om guitar), Adrian Smith (on guitar backing vocals) , Bruce Dickinson (on lead vocals), Nicko McBrain (on drums) and Janick Gers (on guitar). Former members include Paul Di’Anno (lead vocals from 1978 to 1981), Blaze Bayley (on lead vocals from 1994 to 1999), Dennis Stratton (on guitars & backing vocals from 1979 to 1980), Doug Sampson (on drums and percussion from 1977 to 1979 and Clive Burr (on drums and percussion from 1979 to 1982).
- The band has been dogged with accusations of Satanism by religious fundamentalists throughout their career, but a Brazilian priest, Marcos Motolo describes himself as “their number one fan in the world”. He has 162 Iron Maiden tattoos, a son called Stevie Harris and references their lyrics in his sermons.
- Besides brewing beer, flying Ed Force One and being an author and broadcaster, Bruce Dickinson is also a skilled and enthusiastic fencer who was once listed seventh in the rankings for Great Britain.
- Steve Harris is an enthusiastic footballer who was offered a trial with West Ham as a teenager. He has a full-sized football pitch in his back garden, which is the home ground of Iron Maiden’s own football team consisting of members and associates of the band.
- The Iron Maiden mascot, Eddie the Head, was originally a mask at the back of the stage. Blood capsules were fed through the mouth, invariably soaking the drummer with fake blood. Artist Derek Riggs based the first drawing of Eddie, for Maiden’s debut album, on an image he saw of a decapitated head on a Vietnamese tank.
- Iron Maiden Guitarist Janick Gers has a degree is sociology.
- They were the first big international metal band to play in India, to over 30,000 people who came from all over India, Bangadesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan.
- Bruce Dickinson was expelled from boarding school for taking a leak in his headmaster’s dinner.
- The song “The Trooper” is about the Charge of the Light Brigade at the battle of Balaklava and is based on a poem written by Lord Alfred Tennyson.
Well, there you have it, 10 facts about Iron Maiden. If this doesn’t have you amped for their shows in South Africa, you might need to crank up “Speed of Light” (the first single off their 2015 album, “Book of Souls”) below:
Watch this space for regular updates in the Music and Facts categories on Running Wolf’s Rant.