When bassist Steve Harris teemed up with vocalist Paul Di'Anno, guitarist Tony Parsons, and drummer Doug Sampson in 1976, the resulting band would become heavy metal legends Iron Maiden. After gigging around a bit, their eponymous debut dropped in 1980 (including new guitarist Doug Stratton) and became a hit in their UK homeland on the strength of the “Running Free” single.
Their second effort, 1981's Killers, saw yet another new guitarist in Adrian Smith. A year later, Di'Anno would also be out in favor of Bruce Dickinson when it came time to record Number of the Beast which would eventually be ranked as one of the greatest hard rock albums in history.
Riding a wave of massive success, Iron Maiden stuck with the same formula for Piece of Mind, then hit the road prior to making Powerslave in 1983 and touring even more. Culled from recordings of that run was the live double album Live After Death in 1985.
Finally, with 1986's Somewhere in Time and 1988's Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, Iron Maiden mixed it up a bit by incorporating synth guitars and conceptual themes. The latter included singles like "The Evil That Men Do" and "The Clairvoyant" that lifted it up to high acclaim among critics.
Following the supporting tour, Smith took his leave and the band took a break. Winding back up a year later, Iron Maiden featured Janick Gers on guitar for 1990's return-to-form No Prayer for the Dying. Despite "Bring Your Daughter...to the Slaughter" earning a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Song of the Year, it topped the charts in the UK – a first for the rockers.
Another tour, another member's departure – this time Dickinson headed out, but not before contributing to Fear of the Dark. The set entered the UK album charts in the top seat and sold like gangbusters. From the subsequent tour, Iron Maiden yielded two more live albums in 1993. A Real Live One shown a light on their newer songs and A Real Dead One focused on the classic tunes.
Blaze Bayley took over for Dickinson in time for 1995's The X Factor. The next year saw the release of another hits collection in the double-disc Best of the Beast with Virtual XI coming in 1998. Bayley took his leave as Dickinson and Smith both returned and toured in 1999.
That roster also went into the studio for Brave New World in 2000 with more touring after. Rock in Rio (a live set) and Edward the Great (a hits collection) were both issued in 2002. Then, in 2003, a new effort emerged in Dance of Death and, in 2004, the Rainmaker EP and two live DVDs – History of Iron Maiden, Pt. 1: The Early Days and Raising Hell.
Another collection, The Essential Iron Maiden, was issued by Sanctuary in 2005 with another live CD/DVD package, Death on the Road, following later that year. Matter of Life and Death showcased new songs in 2006.
During their 2008 world tour, a concert documentary film – Somewhere Back in Time World Tour – captured life on the road. The soundtrack for Flight 666 followed in 2009 with The Final Frontier coing in 2010.