The Art of Iron Maiden: Eddie’s Iconic Evolution 1980-2015

30 Sep 2015 Bruce-Dickinson

In September 2015 iconic English heavy metal pioneers Iron Maiden once again held court at the top of the album charts with their five years in the making double album ‘Book of Souls’ some 35+ years after the band released their first eponymous offering.

Many of the elements of the new album were more than familiar to the Maiden faithful; Bruce Dickinson’s soaring 4.8 octave range, Steve Harris’ incredibly literate songwriting skills, the galloping twin guitar attack and of course, Eddie.

For those who somehow don’t know Eddie is the band’s mascot and he was born in 1980 with the release of the first record. Originally a demonic zombie designed and rendered by UK artist Derek Riggs Eddie has evolved – and changed – many times over the past three decades and counting but one thing remains the same; he and the Irons are inextricably linked.

Perhaps more than any major band in recent history Iron Maiden delve deep both into the annals of history and art. In 2015 while other chart toppers warble about lost love, big bottoms and odd dance crazes, Iron Maiden wax lyrical about the R 101 Air Disaster, offering a history lesson to younger fans that is far more entertaining than anything their teachers at school could present. Iron Maiden are, and always have been, the ‘thinking man’s’ heavy metal group and one to whom the art attached to their brand is every bit as iconic as their songs.

Eddie’s presence is not just limited to album cover art though. He appears on every tour, a huge lumbering animatronic monster that the band members, especially champion fencer Dickinson, ‘duel’ with over the course of a show.

Eddie also makes numerous video appearances, with the first visual from ‘Book of Souls’, the video for ‘Speed of Light’ being entirely dedicated to him. Bassist, primary songwriter and band founder Steve Harris even has one of the monster’s most beloved incarnations (‘The Trooper’) tattooed prominently on one of his forearms (as do countless numbers of die hard fans.)

But now you have heard all about him it’s time to meet Eddie in some of his most famous forms. Enjoy!

Eddie's first appearance came in February 1980. Hidden in the shadows on this single cover Riggs and the band did not want his 'true nature' revealed until their debut album came out, so they simply teased him here.
Eddie’s first appearance came in February 1980. Hidden in the shadows on this single cover Riggs and the band did not want his ‘true nature’ revealed until their debut album came out, so they simply teased him here.

 

Eddie's first appearance in April 1980. Asked about his creation years later Riggs said; “When I finished this I sat back and thought ‘that is going to make me rich and famous’ - so I didn't get rich but I got moderately famous, so one half out of two ain't bad I suppose."
Eddie’s first appearance in April 1980. Asked about his creation years later Riggs said; “When I finished this I sat back and thought ‘that is going to make me rich and famous’ – so I didn’t get rich but I got moderately famous, so one half out of two ain’t bad I suppose.”
For the band's second single Eddie becomes part of a strong political commentary, as he bests the original 'Iron Lady', Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
For the band’s second single Eddie becomes part of a strong political commentary, as he bests the original ‘Iron Lady’, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
For the artwork for 1981's 'Killers' Riggs set Eddie in front of a block of flats based on his own home. The flats are still there but Riggs isn't, he moved to sunny California years ago.
For the artwork for 1981’s ‘Killers’ Riggs set Eddie in front of a block of flats based on his own home. The flats are still there but Riggs isn’t, he moved to sunny California years ago.
1982 saw a swap of vocalists, as Bruce Dickinson replaced Paul Di'anno. His first songwriting outing for the band was 'Run to the Hills', “a single about cowboys and Indians ", thus Eddie being given a tomahawk.
1982 saw a swap of vocalists, as Bruce Dickinson replaced Paul Di’anno. His first songwriting outing for the band was ‘Run to the Hills’, “a single about cowboys and Indians “, thus Eddie being given a tomahawk.
Despite the fact that most of Maiden's songs are inspired by literature, history and film, at this point the band were being accused of Satanism - the accompanying Beast On The Road Tour was particularly hampered by protesters in the US. This depiction of Eddie controlling the devil with puppet strings probably didn’t help change opinion - although if you look closely, you can see that the devil is actually controlling a smaller version of Eddie.
Despite the fact that most of Maiden’s songs are inspired by literature, history and film, at this point the band were being accused of Satanism – the accompanying Beast On The Road Tour was particularly hampered by protesters in the US.
This depiction of Eddie controlling the devil with puppet strings probably didn’t help change opinion – although if you look closely, you can see that the devil is actually controlling a smaller version of Eddie.
.Included in the liner notes to Maiden’s fourth album is a slightly altered passage from the Book Of Revelation (chapter 4, verse 21): “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more Death. Neither sorrow, nor crying. Neither shall there be any more brain; for the former things are passed away." The actual text reads: "neither shall there be any more pain." The change, according to Harris, was both to reference the album's title and to annoy their detractors even further. Poor Eddie has been lobotomized here and (for the most part) his bolted head has become a constant.
Included in the cover notes for Maiden’s fourth album is a slightly altered passage from the Book Of Revelation (chapter 4, verse 21): “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more Death. Neither sorrow, nor crying. Neither shall there be any more brain; for the former things are passed away.” The actual text reads: “neither shall there be any more pain.”
The change, according to Harris, was both to reference the album’s title and to annoy their detractors even further. Poor Eddie has been lobotomized here and (for the most part) his bolted head has become a constant.
Probably Eddie's most iconic incarnation this is the image on Harris' tattoo and one that has spawned countless poster reprints.
Probably Eddie’s most iconic incarnation this is the image on Harris’ tattoo and one that has spawned countless poster reprints.
Another iconic Eddie, but there are hidden 'easter eggs' here that some may not notice. The legends Bollokz’ and ‘What a load of crap’ are on the left and right hand side of the pyramid respectively and there is a Mickey Mouse hieroglyph in the bottom left corner.
Another iconic Eddie, but there are hidden ‘easter eggs’ here that some may not notice. The legends Bollokz’ and ‘What a load of crap’ are on the left and right hand side of the pyramid respectively and there is a Mickey Mouse hieroglyph in the bottom left corner.
Eddie returns to his pre-Number Of The Beast long-haired days for this live album cover. The gravestone he is rising from reads “Edward T H-“ with the remainder of his full name obscured. Another grave nearby reads “Here lies Derek Riggs.”
Eddie returns to his pre-Number Of The Beast long-haired days for this live album cover.
The gravestone he is rising from reads “Edward T H-“ with the remainder of his full name obscured. Another grave nearby reads “Here lies Derek Riggs.”
Not content with just a tatt, Steve Harris wanted to be Eddie. So Riggs obliged for this 1993 single cover.
Not content with just a tatt, Steve Harris wanted to be Eddie. So Riggs obliged for this 1993 single cover.
How could you ever have had a Best of Iron Maiden collection without the Best of Eddie as well?
How could you ever have had a Best of Iron Maiden collection without the Best of Eddie as well?
For Book of Souls Eddie has gone Mayan, a deliberate choice according to Harris as the Mayans beliefs about death and the fate of souls suited the title very well.
For Book of Souls Eddie has gone Mayan, a deliberate choice according to Harris as the Mayans beliefs about death and the fate of souls suited the title very well.