Iron Maiden in Dubai

With heavy metal heroes Iron Maiden set to play the city, here are our favourite ferrous facts

Music feature
One: black Xmas

Iron Maiden have sold more than 100 million records worldwide since their formation on Christmas Day 1975. This must surely make it one of the most profitable postprandial holiday ideas ever.

Two: a hole lot of trouble

The band got their name from an 18th century German torture device, a solid iron, sarcophagus-like casket lined with spikes. These spikes were usually strategically placed so they would skewer the prisoners without killing them. The poor victims usually died of blood loss. Ouch.

Three: toeing the line-up

Iron Maiden might be all rock ‘n’ roll, but if you look at the changes in their line-ups over the years they seem more like a soap opera: they’ve had a grand total of 24 different members. When they hit Dubai we can expect: Steve Harris (1975-present), Dave Murray (1976-present), Adrian Smith (1980-1990, 1999-present), Janick Gers (1989-present), Nicko McBrain (1982-present), Michael Kenney (1990-present) and, of course, Bruce Dickinson (1981-1993, 1999-present).

Four: Maiden voyage

Fans will soon get to know the members much better thanks to Iron Maiden: Flight 666, a documentary that is due for international release in April. Following the band on the first leg of the 2008 Somewhere Back In Time World Tour, it shows life both on and off their specially customised Boeing 757.

Five: beastly goings-on

In keeping with heavy metal tradition, Iron Maiden have had their fair share of controversies. Probably the most notorious of these came after the 1982 release of The Number Of The Beast, their first UK number-one album. While the band were on tour in the US, members of a pressure group incorrectly accused the band of Satanism and publicly defaced a number of their albums. To this day, fans continue to rush to the band’s defence, stating that that the songs are mostly about mythology, war and science fiction.

Six: being Frank

Iron Maiden’s 1983 hit song ‘To Tame A Land’ was written in honour of Frank Herbert’s acclaimed sci-fi novel Dune. The band initially wanted to name the song after the book, but Herbert threatened them with legal action. The miserable lump’s reasoning? That he didn’t like rock bands and particularly detested Iron Maiden. How ungrateful.

Seven: on the ball

The band’s slogan, ‘Up The Irons’, has little to do with the band’s name and a whole lot to do with Steve Harris’s devotion to West Ham United football club. Not only is Harris a fan, but he used to play for their youth team.

Eight: Eddie, steady, go

Eddie, the band’s adorable (if you’re into desiccated ghouls) mascot has appeared on every cover of Iron Maiden’s 24 albums. He originally started out as Electric Matthew, a character created by artist Derek Riggs as a symbol of the punk movement. Riggs’s first Electric Matthew illustration was bought by Iron Maiden’s record label, who asked him to add more hair, and thus created the Eddie we know and, er… love?

Nine: Maggie vs Eddie

Eddie’s not the only cover star: former UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher featured on the singles ‘Sanctuary’ and ‘Women In Uniform’. The former, which shows Eddie standing over a slain Thatcher with a knife in hand, was censored in the UK. The latter, meanwhile, depicted a gun-wielding Maggie waiting to ambush Eddie, who has his arms over the shoulders of a nurse and a schoolgirl.

Ten: blade runner

Lead singer Bruce Dickinson is a championship fencer – as in stabbing things with a sword, not making gardens look nice – and owns the firm Duellist Fencing Equipment UK.

Iron Maiden play Dubai Media City Amphitheatre, Feb 13

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