Heavy metal’s identity is rooted almost as deeply in its imagery as the music itself, and British pioneers Iron Maiden were (and some band members still are) proud exponents of the long hair, ripped-denim, spandex and leather uniform of the '80s. Maiden’s image, however, is all the more enduring - and somewhat remarkably for a heavy metal band, endearing - thanks to the most famous band mascot of all time, Eddie The Head.
Originally designed by Derek Riggs, adopted by the band, and brought to life as a blood-drooling mask at the back of the stage; Eddie’s been a perennial, zombie-like fixture at almost every gig, and on almost every Maiden release since 1980’s debut single, Running Free.
As you’ll see from the following celebration of Iron Maiden’s gloriously gruesome, benchmark-setting artwork, Eddie has evolved along with the band and their musical direction. From lobotomised street-prowling urchin to Satan-battling, time-travelling cyborg - Ed’s 30-year coming of age has been a painful yet compelling journey.
So, on the eve of Maiden’s 15th studio album release The Final Frontier, join us as we relive the band’s impressively graphic back catalogue. All the quotes from Derek Riggs come courtesy of his excellent online portfolio (a veritable hive of insights from the designer himself), while massive props must go to top fan sites Maiden World and Iron Maiden Wallpaper for sharing all the hidden messages and hi-res artwork you could wish for. Go visit them now.
STOP PRESS (i): Check out our exhaustive track-by-track review of Iron Maiden's new album, The Final Frontier. It's a genuine shocker.
STOP PRESS (ii): Eddie shredders should check out the latest issue of Metal Hammer with its brilliant 3D cover for the release of The Final Frontier. Check out an exclusive preview here.