43 Years Ago, Iron Maiden Was Formed On Christmas Day

December 26, 2018

Unknown to bassist Steve Harris, the world received on Christmas day in 1975 of the greatest gifts in the world: Iron Maiden.

Inspiried by the 1939 film The Man in the Iron Mask, Harris named his band "Iron Maiden", unaware that there was already another band named Iron Maiden as well. Upon receiving an upset phone call from members of the other Iron Maiden, Harris ignored their request to change their name and instead registered "Iron Maiden" under his name.

On December 25th, 1975, Harris recruited the talents of Dave Sullivan and Terry Rance on guitars, Ron "Rebel" Matthews on drums and the temporary Paul Day on vocals to create the early lineup of Iron Maiden. But due to his lack of stage presence, Day would later be replaced by Dennis Wilcock as the band's second frontman. Wilcock, who was heavily influenced by KISS often wore facepaint while onstage and is also responsible for introducing guitarist Dave Murray into the band. Adding third guitarist did not fly well with Sullivan and Rance that tempers flared until Harris had to temporarily shelf Iron Maiden in 1976.

Iron Maiden's first demo recording Soundhouse Tapes consisted of Steve Harris, Paul Di'AnnoDave Murray and Doug Sampson 1979, and managed to sell 5,000 copies within weeks. Soundhouse Tapes eventually landed Iron Maiden a record deal with EMI in 1980 after other record companies tried to negotiate changes to the band's sound and look. The band's self-titled debut album brought about a new lineup with the addition of Clive Burr to replace Sampson on drums and Dennis Stratton and Adrian Smith on guitar.

Smith would later replace Stratton on Iron Maiden's second album Killers, bringing stronger riffs and melodies to some of the band's greatest hits. Killers would also be Paul Di'Anno's last stint with the band after becoming wearing from the road and developing a destructive drug habit. By this time, Bruce Dickinson took over the vocalist duties and help launch Iron Maiden skyward with their third album Number of the Beast's hits "Run to the Hills" and "Hallowed Be Thy Name."

In 1982, Nicko McBrain would replace Burr on drums, solidifying the classic Iron Maiden lineup.