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Inspiration for Iron Maiden Artwork
Iron Maiden muscled their way into the '80s metal ranks and was one of the first groups to be classified as "British Metal," a new wave of the "British Invasion." Despite a lack of radio play, coupled with early allegations of Satanism, the band evolved into one of metal's most influential bands. Iron Maiden set the scene for '80s metal and has influenced generations of aspiring musicians. Iron Maiden is one of metal's most enduring and distinctive acts. Their ambitious songwriting, powerhouse vocals, savage guitars, and distinctive mascot, "Eddie The Head," placed them above the competition.
Eddie is a macabre, skinless, zombie-esque figure who has appeared on the cover of every Iron Maiden record since their 1980 debut. Eddie was an amalgamation of the band's late '70s papier-mache mask and the character "Electric Matthew." Electric Matthew was punk inception art by graphic artist, Derek Riggs. Armed with Ideas from the band and their management, Riggs unknowingly created one of the most iconic images in rock n' roll today. Eddie assumes a different guise relating to the themes of each album and its corresponding world tour. Eddie has appeared as an Egyptian mummy, a lobotomized mental patient, a futuristic cyborg, and a host of other thematic characters. Eddie has been the band's merchandising icon for more than three-and-a-half decades.
Eddie’s creator, Derek Riggs, handled the artwork for each Iron Maiden album, including every single released throughout the 1980s and including 1990's "A Prayer for the Dying."
Starting with 1992's Fear of the Dark, Iron Maiden began excepting submissions for album cover art. The band wanted to give Eddie a new look. They were looking for something more dark and menacing, less like the creep-show style comic art that Riggs was known for. However, Riggs did create the covers for Iron Maiden's Live One and Dead One, but after more than a decade of drawing Eddie and, having had a few album concepts rejected, Riggs called it quits with Iron Maiden. This article shows all of Derek Riggs's cover art for the early Iron Maiden albums and singles.
Artwork for Iron Maiden's First Singles (1980)
In 1980, British Heavy Metal band, Iron Maiden, hit No. 4 on the UK Albums Charts with their self-titled debut album. In addition, a live version of the title track would be one of the first music videos aired on MTV. The album was Issued by EMI in the UK and later in North America on Harvest/Capitol Records. The album includes other early fan favorites such as "Running Free", "Phantom of the Opera", "Transylvania", and "Sanctuary".
After the album's completion, the band set out on a headline tour of the UK in support of the album. Iron Maiden would later open for Kiss on the European leg of their Unmasked Tour. They would also open for Judas Priest on select dates. After the Kiss tour, Dennis Stratton was dismissed from the band as a result of creative and personal differences. He was replaced by Adrian Smith in October 1980.
"Running Free" was the first single released from the album, Iron Maiden. The picture sleeve was created by Derek Riggs and Eddie was kept in the shadows as to not reveal his identity prior to the release of the first album. There is graffiti spray painted on the building in the alley and a closer inspection reveals several band names such as Scorpions, Judas Priest, AC/DC, Sex Pistols, and Led Zeppelin as well as the word "Hammers," a tribute to West Ham United, an English professional football team.
The "Sanctuary" picture sleeve depicts Eddie having stabbed Margaret Thatcher, who at the time was the British Prime Minister. The cover was later censored with a black bar across Thatcher's eyes, which was widely believed to have been banned by Magaret Thatcher herself. This claim has been revealed as false. Rod Smallwood, the band's manager, decided the censorship of the cover was good publicity. The black bar is only present in the UK edition, the European picture sleeve shows the full image.
Iron Maiden's third single was "Women In Uniform." The picture sleeve portrays Margaret Thatcher hiding behind a wall with a sub-machine gun waiting to ambush Eddie, while Eddie is shown walking hand-in-hand with a nurse and a schoolgirl. This image caused more controversy for the band and ended with feminists branding Iron Maiden as sexists.
Derek Riggs signed his cover art with his trademark logo (shown above). Riggs also incorporated hidden messages within his artwork, which is something that is now lost due to the switch to CD covers.
Where can we find Riggs's logo?
- The location of the Riggs logo on the first album, "Iron Maiden," is located on the yellow brick wall behind Eddie, the sixth row down and two in from the left.
- On "Running Free," the Riggs logo is on the box next to the garbage can with no lid.
- On "Sanctuary," the logo is on the back of the torn concert poster to the left on the brick wall.
- On "Woman In Uniforms," you will find the Riggs logo just below Margret Thatcher's right elbow.
Derek Riggs's Covers for Killers, 1981, and Its Singles
Released in 1981, Killers is the title of the second album by British Heavy Metal band Iron Maiden. The album is comprised of left-over material, which was all written prior to the band's debut album, Iron Maiden. Only two new songs were written for this record "Killers," which are "Prodigal Son" and "Murders in the Rue Morgue".
As a result of the band being completely dissatisfied with the production on their debut album, they decided to hire veteran producer, Martin Birch, who would work with Iron Maiden until his retirement in 1992. The record was followed by the band's first world tour, dubbed "The Killer Tour," which included their debut performance in the United States, where they opened for Judas Priest at The Aladdin Casino in Las Vegas.
Like the covers for their two previous singles, the artwork for "Twilight Zone" was subject to criticism in the press. It was interpreted as "gratuitous sexism." The media were offended by what appeared to be the band's mascot, Eddie, spying on a young girl in her bedroom. but the media got it wrong, as the song lyrics and picture on the girl's dressing table insinuate that Eddie is dead and contacting his lover Charlotte from beyond the grave, which makes this the band's first love song.
"Twilight Zone" was a non-album single in the UK, but it did appear on the US and Canadian versions of the Killers album. The second single, "Purgatory," was a re-worked version of "Floating" with a faster tempo. It did not fare so well on the charts.
Where can you find Riggs's Logo?
- The location of the Riggs logo on Iron Maiden's second album, Killers, is in the middle window just behind Eddie's back right pocket.
- On the "Twilight Zone" cover, the Riggs logo is carved into the nightstand just to the right of Charlotte's right thigh.
- On the "Purgatory" cover (this is an easy one), the logo is just left of the devil-side of Eddie's face on the cover.
Derek Riggs's Two Covers for Maiden Japan, 1981
The Maiden Japan EP was recorded on the Asian leg of "The Killer Tour" in 1981. There are two versions of this EP (not relating to the cover art). The first is the original Japanese release with a four-song edit. The second is a five-song edit. All of the tracks were recorded in Kosei Nenkin Hall in 1981. These were lead singer Paul Di'Anno's final recordings with Iron Maiden.
It was never the band's intention to release this EP, but Toshiba-EMI wanted a live album. The original cover pictured the band's mascot, Eddie, holding the severed head of singer Paul Di'Anno. The replacement cover, or censored cover art, was done on very short notice prior to the EP's release. Iron Maiden's manager, Rod Smallwood, requested that "Maiden Japan" be released in Venezuela in 1987 with the original cover.
Where can I find Riggs's logo?
- The Riggs logo on Maiden Japan is another easy one. It is just to the right of Eddies' left ankle
Derek Riggs's Covers for Number of the Beast, 1982, and Its Single
In 1982, Iron Maiden released their third album, The Number of the Beast. This album earned the band their first No. 1 album on the UK charts. It subsequently became a Top Ten hit in many other countries as well.
At the time of the album's release, Bruce Dickinson, the band's new singer, was in the middle of legal difficulties with his former band Samson's management. He was not permitted to add his name to any of the songwriting credits, but it is said that he helped with "Children of the Damned", "The Prisoner," and "Run to the Hills."
According to Riggs, the idea behind the original "Run to the Hills" cover was based around the idea of a "power struggle in hell" in which the band's mascot, Eddie, battles Satan with a tomahawk. This references the song's subject matter, which documents the conflict between European settlers in the New World and Native American tribes during the days of colonization and the westward expansion. The song is written from both perspectives, covering the Natives' viewpoint in the first verse, and the Europeans' in the rest of the song.
The band embarked on a world tour for the second time. The tour was dubbed "The Beast on the Road," during which they visited North America, Japan, Australia, and Europe. The tour included a headline appearance at the Reading Festival on the US leg of "The Beast on the Road" Tour. In the U.S. the album was the center of controversy, where a conservative political lobbying group claimed Iron Maiden were Satanic due to the nature of their lyrics and the cover art by Derek Riggs, which depicted Eddie controlling Satan like a puppet, while Satan is also controlling a smaller Eddie.
Where can I find Riggs's logo?
- The Riggs logo on Iron Maiden's third album, Number Of the Beast, is down at the bottom and to the right of the devil's left foot, beneath where the blood is dripping from the devil's severed head.
- On "Run To the Hills, the Riggs logo is chiseled in the stone to the far left in the shadow.
Derek Riggs's Covers for Piece of Mind, 1983, and Its Singles
In 1983, Iron maiden released their fourth studio album, Piece of Mind. The cover depicts Eddie as a lobotomized mental patient trapped in the asylum. This is the reason why, from this release forward, Eddie has a metal plate with bolts on his forehead. Piece of Mind was the first of three albums recorded in The Bahamas at Compass Point Studios. The record reached the No. 3 spot on the UK Album Charts, and was the band's debut on the North American charts, reaching No. 70 on the Billboard 200.
Piece of Mind includes the successful singles "The Trooper" and "Flight of Icarus." The latter was particularly notable as one of the band's few songs to gain substantial airplay in the U.S. The picture on the sleeve is a parody of the original Icarus myth, which portrays a winged Eddie burning Icarus's wings with a flamethrower. Derek Riggs depiction of Icarus resembles the figure in "Evening: Fall of Day," by William Rimmer. Rimmer's version of Icarus was used as a record label logo by Led Zeppelin. According to the artist, Derek Riggs, this was a reference to Led Zeppelin's break-up a few years prior.
Where can I find Riggs's logo?
- The Derek Riggs Logo is difficult to find on Piece Of Mind. It's on the back cover as part of a necklace held within a skeletal hand. The signature is not on the cd version, since part of the picture has been cut off.
Derek Riggs's Covers for Powerslave, 1984, and Its Singles
In 1984, Iron Maiden released their fifth studio album, Powerslave. The album cover depicts Eddie as a huge shrine on a pyramid in ancient Egypt. "Bollokz," on the left-hand side of the pyramid, and "What a load of crap," on the right-hand side are but a few of the hidden messages located on the cover.
The album featured fan favorites, "2 Minutes to Midnight", "Aces High", and "Rime of The Ancient Mariner." Based on Samuel Taylor Coleridge's iconic poem, "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" is one of Iron Maiden's longest songs, running just over 13 minutes.
The tour that followed the album, was dubbed the "World Slavery Tour," which began in Warsaw, Poland on 9 August, 1984. The tour lasted 331 days. Iron Maiden performed 187 shows tied in with their 1984 album, Powerslave.
The stage show for the "World Slavery tour" adhered to an ancient Egyptian theme, which was decorated with sarcophagi, Egyptian hieroglyphs, and mummified representations of the band's mascot, Eddie. There were also numerous pyrotechnic effects. The theatrics of the stage show meant that it would become one of the band's most acclaimed tours, making it the perfect backdrop to their first live double album and concert video "Live After Death."
Where can I find Riggs's logo?
- The Derek Riggs logo on the Powerslave album is right above the entrance to the Pyramid.
Derek Riggs's Covers for Live After Death, 1985, and Its Single
For the filming of the "Live After Death" video, Iron Maiden hired director Jim Yukich, who filmed two of the four night shows at Long Beach Arena in California. These performances occurred in March of 1985. Although the audio recordings for the album's release were also recorded at Long Beach, side four does contain tracks that were recorded at Hammersmith Odeon, London in October of 1984.
The cover art was created by Derek Riggs, which pictures Eddie rising from a grave. His metal screw cartouche, from his Piece of Mind lobotomy, is being struck by lightning. Engraved on the tombstone is a quote from fantasy and horror fiction author H. P. Lovecraft's The Nameless City. It reads, "That is not dead which can eternal lie, Yet with strange aeons even death may die." Also engraved on the headstone is what appears to be Eddie's full name, "Edward T H—", the remainder of which is obscured by a clump of sod. Near Eddie's grave is a black cat with a halo. To the cat's left, there is a tombstone engraved with the sentence, "Here lies Derek Riggs." Riggs included gravestones which state "Live With Pride." This was added at the band's request to show opposition to lip-synched performances. He also included gravestones that read, "Here Lies Faust In Body Only." This is taken from the German legend about a man who sold his soul to the Devil. Finally, there's a stone which simply reads, "Thank You." The back cover shows the rest of the graveyard and a city being destroyed by lightning.
The first single released from 1985's Live after Death was a live version of "Run to the Hills." Live versions of "Phantom of the Opera" and "Losfer Words (Big 'Orra)" are its B-sides. According to Riggs, he was asked to paint a cover illustration that combined concepts from both "Run to the Hills" and "Phantom of the Opera," so the artwork depicts Eddie as the phantom in a hilly landscape. The second single released was "Running Free (Live)," which was released with a photo cover of Bruce Dickinson and Steve Harris live on stage. This was the first cover to not feature Derek Riggs's Album Art
Where can I find Riggs's logo?
- If you follow the path on the back cover, one of the tombstones has the Derek Riggs logo.
Derek Riggs's Covers for Somewhere in Time, 1986, and Its Singles
By the time 1986 rolled along, Iron Maiden had established themselves as a powerful and unique metal band. Soon they returned to the studio to record their long-awaited 1986 album, Somewhere in Time. This album was more experimental and incorporated synthesized bass and guitar. Its futuristic themes added textures and layers to their sound. The release charted well across the world, with the single, "Wasted Years", performing exceptionally well. Notably, the album included no writing credits from lead singer, Bruce Dickinson, whose material was rejected by the rest of the band.
While Dickinson was focused on his own music, guitarist Adrian Smith, who typically collaborated with the vocalist, was "left to his own devices." Smith's tracks include "Wasted Years," "Sea of Madness," and "Stranger in a Strange Land." The last of which would be the album's second single.
If you look closely, in the top-right corner of the cover, slightly right of Eddie's lit match, the time on the clock appears as "11:58." This is a reference to a previous Iron Maiden single, "2 Minutes to Midnight."
Where can I find Riggs's logo?
- Several cards can be seen falling from the table. One, (orange background, next to red coloured card) contains a picture of the Grim Reaper. Just under one of the stacks of cards, on the edge of the table, Derek Riggs's signature can be seen.
- The logo art on Somewhere In Time is on Eddie's chest plate.
Derek Riggs's Covers for Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, 1988, and Its Singles
The experimentation that was evident on Somewhere in Time continued on Iron Maiden's seventh album, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, which was released in 1988. Seventh Son of a Seventh Son is a concept album based on the 1987 novel "Seventh Son," by Orson Scott Card. This was the band's first record to include keyboards, which were performed by Harris and Smith. Keyboards replaced the guitar synthesizers on the previous release, Somewhere In Time. The album proved to be another popular release and became Iron Maiden's second album to hit No. 1 on the UK album charts.
During the following tour, the band headlined the Monsters of Rock festival at Donington Park for the first time in August of 1988. They played to the largest crowd in the festival's history. Megadeth, Guns N' Roses, Kiss, David Lee Roth, and Helloween were also included on the bill. However, the festival was marred by the deaths of two fans in a crowd-surge during the Guns N' Roses performance. The following year's festival was canceled as a result. The tour concluded with several headline shows in the UK in both November and December of 1988. The concerts at the NEC Arena in Birmingham were recorded for a live video entitled, "Maiden England."
"Can I Play with Madness" is the first single from Seventh Son of a Seventh Son and it hit No. 3 on the UK charts. The song is about a young man who wants to learn the future from an old prophet with a crystal ball. The young man thinks he is going mad and seeks the old prophet to help him cope with his visions or nightmares. The B-side "Black Bart Blues" is about the suit of armor named Black Bart that rode in the back lounge of Iron Maiden's tour buses. It can be seen on the cover of the Thin Lizzy song "Massacre," which comes from their "Johnny the Fox" album.
The second single, "The Evil That Men Do," debuted at No. 6 on the UK charts, and quickly rose to No. 5. The single's B-sides are re-recordings of "Prowler" and "Charlotte the Harlot," which appeared as tracks number one and seven/eight on the band's debut album, "Iron Maiden."
The third single, which includes live performances of "The Clairvoyant," "The Prisoner," and "Heaven Can Wait," was also released as a clear vinyl. It debuted at number six in the British charts. This was the band's first performance at the Monsters of Rock festival in Donington Park.
"Infinite Dreams" was the fourth single released from Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. The single was released at the same time as a VHS video recording entitled, "Maiden England". The video performance was recorded at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, England in 1988. This was towards the end of the massive world tour to support the album. The single's B-sides are "Killers" and "Still Life."
Derek Riggs's Covers for No Prayer for the Dying, 1990, and Its Singles
Iron Maiden's eighth studio album, No Prayer for the Dying, was released in October of 1990. After parting ways with Capitol Records, this was the band's first release with Epic Records in the U.S. No Prayer for the Dying was Iron Maiden's first full-length album in over two years and was recorded in a stripped-down, straightforward style reminiscent of the band's earlier material. The album's lyrics departed from literary and historical themes in favor of more political content. Many of the songs focus on religious exploitation. This can be heard in the album's first single, "Holy Smoke," which is about the many televangelist scandals that were in the news in the United States in the late 1980s. "Holy Smoke" mentions "Jimmy the Reptile," a reference to Jimmy Swaggart. The song also references "The TV Queen" Tammy Faye. The message of the song can be boiled down to one line, which states that there are "plenty of bad preachers for the Devil to stoke."
"Bring Your Daughter... to the Slaughter" was the second single from No Prayer for the Dying, released in December of 1990. This was the band's first No. 1 on the UK single charts. The song was originally recorded as a side project by Dickinson's solo outfit for the slasher film soundtrack "A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child." In addition to the standard 7" and 12" editions, the single was also released as a special edition picture disc 7" flip-top picture sleeve "brain pack" edition. This was also a picture record with A-side being an image of a brain and the B-side featuring cover versions of "I'm a Mover," originally performed by Free. It was also performed by Led Zeppelin on "Communication Breakdown".
An additional inscription was added to the plaque on the tomb, which Riggs had initially left blank to allow the band to add their own words. It reads, "After the Daylight, The Night of Pain, That is not Dead, Which Can Rise Again."
The album does not follow the continuity of previous album covers, as Eddie no longer exhibits either his lobotomy or cyborg enhancements.
Derek Riggs's Covers for Live One—Dead One
In 1993, Bruce Dickinson left the band to further pursue his solo career but agreed to remain for a farewell tour. This tour produced two live albums called "A Real Live One" and A Real Dead One. The album, A Real Live One, featured songs from 1986 to 1992. It was released in March of 1993. The album cover depicts Eddie playing with some live high voltage wires. The second album, A Real Dead One, featured songs from 1980 to 1984, and was released after Dickinson had left the band. The album cover depicts Eddie as a DJ in Hell. The albums' tracks were recorded at 9 different venues in Europe on the Fear of the Dark Tour. Later, for future re-releases, the two albums were packaged together as a two album set. The picture sleeve for the "Fear the Dark" single from the Real Live One release portrays Eddie as Steve Harris playing his bass on stage. On the picture sleeve for the "Hallowed Be Thy Name" single from the album, A Real Dead One, shows Eddie as Satan stabbing Bruce Dickinson with a Triton. Killing the departing vocalist in album art was an idea that was also used on the cover of Maiden Japan in 1981, which showed Eddie holding Paul Di'Anno's severed head. This idea was also used in the video of Bruce's farewell concert. During the filming of the concert, which was broadcast by the BBC under the name "Raising Hell," horror illusionist, Simon Drake, appears to impale Bruce in an iron maiden torture device.
Derek Riggs and Brave New World, 2000
Iron Maiden's twelfth studio album, Brave New World, was recorded with producer Kevin Shirley at Guillaume Tell Studios in Paris, November of 1999. The band's thematic influences continued with "The Wicker Man," which was based on the 1973 British cult film of the same name. The title for Brave New World was taken from the Aldous Huxley novel of the same name. The album furthered the more progressive and melodic sound present in some earlier recordings. Elaborate song structures and keyboard orchestration sweeps through the album. The album also marks the return of singer Bruce Dickinson, and welcoming in of a new guitar player named Janick Gers. Iron Maiden now had a three-guitar line-up and embarked on a hugely successful reunion tour.
Dubbed "The Ed Hunter Tour," the tour consisted of well over 100 dates. It culminated on 19 January, 2001 at the Rock in Rio festival in Brazil. In Rio, Iron Maiden played to an audience of around 250,000. The performance produced for a CD and DVD which were released March of 2002, under the name "Rock in Rio"
The album cover is only partially designed by Derek Riggs. Riggs designed the sky, which was part of Riggs's submission for the picture sleeve art for the single "Wicker Man," which was rejected by the band. The bottom half of the cover was designed by the digital artist, Steve Stone.
This album cover does not have a Derek Riggs signature logo.
I make no copyright claims on the video content or images of drawings, paintings, prints, or other two-dimensional works of art contained within this article. The copyright for these items is most likely owned by either the artist who produced the image or the person who commissioned the work and/or their heirs. Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is any use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.
Keep It in the Groove—Let Us Know You Were Here Too!
Holly Dugas on July 30, 2018:
Derek Riggs himself has stated that this article is full of falsehoods and many of the renderings used in the article are NOT HIS WORK. If you're going to call your self a "reporter" and or "journalist" the first rule of thumb is to report your story accurately.
Fox Music (author) on May 28, 2015:
Hey FatFreddysCat - Your Right, Riggs Always Kept His Album Covers Interesting and Always Added Something To His Art, Kind of an Iron Maiden Wheres Waldo If You Will. -- Keep It In the Groove !!
Keith Abt from The Garden State on May 28, 2015:
My favorite of Derek's Maiden covers would probably be "Powerslave" - the only one I still own on vinyl. Every time I look at that cover, I still find some little details and "extras" hiding in the background that I've never noticed before, even after all these years.
Fox Music (author) on May 10, 2015:
Thanks This Was A Fun Hub-Page to Create - Keep Spinin' That Vinyl !!
TZNelson on May 09, 2015:
Thanks for posting this Iron Maiden Hub-page -- I love the album covers created by Derek Riggs - Keep Rockin'