For Clarity, I love Iron Maiden in any form or time and hope to see them this coming year. So this is not an anti-Bruce Dickinson document. I just personally have an affinity for the first two albums and The band at that time with Paul Di’Anno. 

At some point in the last decade, I had the pleasure of having a brief chat with Paul. I am the guy who reaches out and lives by the approach of “All anyone can do is ignore you, or respond.” You never win the lottery if you don’t play.

To my surprise, he got in touch with me within a couple of hours. He was extremely pleasant and we discussed his plans musically for the future, and we related to both our health issues looming large question marks in our careers.

No matter if you are a fan of Paul or not, I can tell you first hand he’s got a good soul and it was a very human and down-to-earth talk he shared with me. 

Maiden’s Steve Harris was THE man, this was his band. He tried many people and the revolving door kept spinning. Ultimately He found Dave Murray, a brilliant Rock Guitarist, and Drummer Doug Sampson. They were looking for yet another vocalist and A chance meeting at the Red Lion pub in November 1978 evolved into a successful audition for vocalist Paul Di’Anno.

Steve Harris stated, “There’s sort of a quality in Paul’s voice, a raspiness in his voice, or whatever you want to call it, that just gave it this great edge.” At this time, Murray would typically act as their sole guitarist, with Harris commenting, “Davey was so good he could do a lot of it on his own. The plan was always to get a second guitarist in, but finding one that could match Davey was really difficult.”.

On New Year’s Eve 1978, Iron Maiden recorded a demo, consisting of four songs, and got it in the hands of Neal Kay, then managing a heavy metal club called “Bandwagon Heavy Metal Soundhouse”. A copy was also acquired by Rod Smallwood, who soon became the band’s manager, and, as Iron Maiden’s popularity increased, they released the demo on their own record label as “The Soundhouse Tapes”.

The Soundhouse Tapes Full Album

The recording took off like a wildfire, and an estimated 5,.000 copies were moved in less than one month. In December 1979, the band secured a major record deal with EMI. 

Iro̲n̲ Maid̲e̲n̲ – Iro̲n̲ Maid̲e̲n̲ (Full Album) 1980

Doug Sampson left due to health issues and was replaced by ex-Samson drummer Clive Burr and Guitarist Dennis Stratton joined. 

Iron Maiden released their self-titled album in 1980. This was a headline tour of the UK, before opening for Kiss on their 1980 Unmasked Tour’s European leg. They were also supporting Judas Priest on select dates. Iron Maiden appeared, to much acclaim, at the Reading Festival 1980.

Dennis Stratton was dismissed from the band as a result of creative and personal differences and was replaced by Adrian Smith in October 1980.  Maiden Played at the Rainbow Theatre in London.” Live at the Rainbow” was released in 1981 and the edits of songs “Iron Maiden” and “Wrathchild”  received heavy rotation on MTV during its first hours on the air as the first metal videos ever. 

Iron Maiden – Live At The Rainbow 1980

Iron Maiden seemed to bridge the gap between Metal and Punk, and Paul’s vocals were Brash to Beautiful. The Twin Guitar attack was a force to be reckoned with as well. Recently I read a statement in a Guitar group that the Fender Stratocaster was NOT capable of properly playing Metal, my response was two words. Dave Murray.

The Band worked like dogs, even to the present day they never rested on their laurels. Next came “Killers”.in 1981. Much of the songs were written before the first album was released. 

Iron Maiden Killers live 1980(Paul Di’Anno)

The record was followed by the band’s first world tour, which included their debut performance in the United States, opening for Judas Priest. Iron Maiden played 45 shows in North America to several hundred thousand fans, including two headline gigs in Canada. Maiden booked 132 shows to promote their second album.

Musicians played the small or mid-size venues. Mostly using a standard type of stage equipment which included 200 lamps & smoke machines. Then two backdrops with Eddie, and four members of the crew wearing Eddie’s masks during the “Iron Maiden” song live performance.

iron maiden 2 Iron Maiden  “Origins of The Beast”

Iron Maiden – Live in Milan, Italy, March 30th, 1981 [with Paul Di’Anno]

The cover illustration runs for cover Derek Riggs’s book became the first of much more iconic in the history of the genre. “Killers” sold much better worldwide than their debut, hitting the million mark a year after its release

The Band toured and recorded in Japan as well and the live album “Maiden Japan” was another huge success and quite the Historical document.

Iron Maiden – Maiden Japan (FULL ALBUM)

By 1981, Paul Di’Anno was demonstrating increasingly self-destructive behavior, particularly due to his drug usage, about which Di’Anno comments, “it wasn’t just that I was snorting a bit of coke, though; I was just going for it non-stop, 24 hours a day, every day … the band had commitments piling up that went on for months, years, and I just couldn’t see my way to the end of it. I knew I’d never last the whole tour. It was too much.” With his performances waning, Di’Anno was immediately dismissed following the Killer World Tour, at which point the band had already selected his replacement. Enter Bruce Dickinson. 

Funnily Paul avoided the whole “Devil’s Music” Robert Johnson and PMRC flack. Maiden’s next album with Bruce “ Number of the Beast” was the catalyst for that insanity to come.

If there were ill feelings at the time, time heals as Di’Anno now wishes Bruce and all continued success from the stage every time he has performed for many years 

Paul Di’Anno aka ‘The Beast’ in Interview with CityShor Pune!

I’ve compiled some footage finds here that are of various quality. I’m just glad to know cameras were rolling.

Iron Maiden is an all-time favorite of mine and I hope to see them as scheduled this year. To all, I wish you health and a mighty “UP THE IRONS!” 

IRON MAIDEN – Live At Ruskin Arms (1980)

Flashback Interview: Paul Di’Anno (ex-Iron Maiden) 2001

By Jimmy Flemming

Jimmy Fleming is a Dystonia advocate and Guitarist from Ohio. He authored and co wrote interviews on over 100 articles about guitar and bands on Guitardoor Listen to his latest music and full biography on his website.

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