Iron Maiden are known for three things, thundering riffs, Bruce Fucking Dickinson and album artwork so metal the TSA won’t even let you take a screenshot of an iPhone playing one of their songs onto a plane. In regards to the latter, did you know one of the album artwork for The Number of the Beast was deemed so baller that when the band’s manager found out they were going to use it for a single he was all like, oh no you’re not, this shit needs to be seen by everyone.
The answer to that is of course, yes, because you read it on the image macro we handily put at the top of every page on this website for people who don’t want to click read more because they’re busy and we respect that. However, hopefully we’ve got your attention enough to talk more about how awesome Iron Maiden is, before that though, here’s an uncropped version of the album cover we’re talking about for you to appreciate that we’re not going to shrink down to fit our margins because that’s not what Iron Maiden would want.
That, well, lets just call it what it is, fucking masterpiece of art was, like all Iron Maiden’s best album and single covers painted by hero and all around big-penis-man, Derek Riggs who created it based on a single line of direction from the band “who’s pulling the strings“.
As noted above, the art was originally going to be used for a single released before The Number of the Beast called Purgatory, a decidedly Iron Maiden-ish song notable for being the last official release from the band featuring singer, Paul Di’Anno, who himself is notable for being the guy who did so many drugs the band were forced to fire and replace him with Bruce Fucking Dickinson. However, when band manager, Rod Smallwood saw the artwork he and the rest of the band agreed that it was simply “too good” to use for a single and that it deserved to be on the cover of an album, if not carved into the side of a mountain with shotguns.
With the band unwilling to use the art for the single because they, quite rightly, insisted that the world wasn’t ready, Riggs was quickly commissioned to produce another piece which means, amongst other things, that this was something Riggs farted out in an afternoon.
The Number of the Beast not only went on to become one of the band’s best known and most critically reviewed albums, but also ended up causing a considerable amount of controversy with conservative Christian groups who felt that the album and the band were Satanic in nature, seemingly unaware that saying that made the album sound metal as fuck. In particular these groups criticised the album’s artwork, even though it clearly pictured the band’s mascot (and by the extension the band itself) literally making the devil dance like a puppet, which to us makes them seem like a pretty good role model for parents worried about their kids succumbing to the temptations of Satan. We mean, who better to teach your kids to tell Lucifer to go fuck himself sideways with a pool cue than the guys publicly bragging about him being him being their bitch via their heavy metal album cover, a genre of music you know the Prince of Darkness listens to?
But hey, that’s all ancient history now and we can just enjoy the album and the art for what it is.
If you have a hankering for more silly Iron Maiden facts, why not read about how the plane for their Somewhere Back in Time Tour kept the Iron Maiden livery it was painted with after it was put back into service, until some people complained about it being haunted.