A street-walking axe murderer, the Devil's puppet, a lobotomized asylum patient, an Egyptian pharaoh, a cyborg… a tree (a menacing one at that), a fighter pilot, a storm hovering over a futuristic London, a gigantic space alien, a Mayan warrior… regardless of what form and no matter what horrific, metamorphosing torture he endures, Iron Maiden's Eddie has served as the most essential visual representation any band, metal or otherwise, could have.
Before he was immortalized on the band's self-titled debut in 1980, Eddie first came to life as a papier-mâché prop that would pour fake blood from its mouth during live performances of "Iron Maiden," dousing then-skinsman Doug Sampson in a pool of red. It wasn't until a chance meeting with artist Derek Riggs that Maiden landed their mascot with manager Rod Smallwood deeming it necessary that Eddie be featured on all of the band's artwork.
With Riggs as the band's sole artist — designing album covers, single covers and t-shirts — until 1992's Fear of the Dark album cover, this relationship launched a new era of visuals that would forever be intertwined with heavy metal's already defiant image. Eddie is a fixture of Maiden's live shows, his appearance often marking the high point of the concert.
Naturally, Riggs is the most celebrated artist when discussing Maiden's visual catalog, but let's not forget the other cast of artists who helped bring Eddie to life (or sent him to his death). Melvyn Grant, creator of the horrifying Fear of the Dark artwork has been one of the legendary group's most frequent collaborators behind Riggs, having worked on Virtual XI, The Final Frontier and various singles.
Hugh Syme, best known for his work with Rush (he's done all of their album covers save for the first pair of records) devised the most brutal depictions of Eddie as seen on the cover art for The X Factor and its accompanying singles. Meanwhile, Mark Wilkinson, whom the band had used for live albums and singles, though with sparing reoccurrence, finally got the nod to etch his name in Maiden history with a studio cover for The Book of Souls, delivering possibly the finest looking Eddie of the 21st century.
The list doesn't end there though, so take a tour through all of Eddie's incarnations since making his shadowy debut on the "Running Free" single back in 1980.
Iron Maiden’s Eddie – A Look at Over 40 Years of Metal’s Best MascotIron Maiden’s undead mascot Eddie, as seen on single and album art throughout the band’s 40-plus year history.PLAYLIST: Early Traditional Metal (NWOBHM & Beyond)
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