After seeing all of the recent posts about the 40th anniversary of the release of Iron Maiden's “Killers” album, I came to realize... I've been into Iron Maiden for four decades. How can this be? Yes, there are other favorite bands I've been into longer. There are photos of a four-year-old me wearing a Beatles shirt in the family album, and I carried a Beatles lunchbox in elementary school. But I know Iron Maiden fans that were still in grade school when “Killers” arrived, or they hadn't even gone to their first concert yet. I'm in a weird place of feeling ancient but grateful I got to see so many classic bands by then: George Harrison in '74, a pre-"Born to Run" Bruce Springsteen in a small theater in '75, and Queen over five times with Freddie Mercury. Jealous yet?
I had already immersed myself in total fandom with some bands - with fan club memberships and rare albums in tow - but this is different. Maybe it's that Iron Maiden is more prominent than ever now, still releasing new music with much of the 'classic' line-up members. I've lost count of how many times I've seen them live. I was coming of age as a professional journalist at the same time they were becoming one of the biggest bands in the world. I had seen and met them so many times that they just didn't know my face, they knew me by name! When the label was putting together a press junket to cover them in Holland in 1990, their management insisted that I cover them for Faces Magazine, as I would be guaranteed to bring in a great story.
So let’s get to the reason for bringing this piece from my portfolio to renewed attention. In June 2008, Metal Edge Magazine was doing a cover story on the band but another journalist was already promised the assignment. After protesting about being the right person for the story, my editor suggested that I write an essay about my love for the band. I can't recall how many times I have written Maiden articles or concert reviews, but this one stands out as it is the most personal. It reveals how the "Killers" album brought me to this place of long-time fandom and changed my life.
Unfortunately, I did not see them until the "Number Of The Beast" tour, but this article tells of my introduction to the band and my first Maiden experience. Enjoy!
Can I Play With Madness
Confessions of a maiden fanatic
I admit it. This love affair started with dark, glaring eyes and a captivating, twisted smile peeking over the bin at Record World. The time was 1981 - an exciting time to discover heavy metal. A clutch of bands labeled the New Wave of British Heavy Metal was generating strong buzz in a new British magazine called Kerrang! which exposed American kids like me to new music, none of which I was actually able to listen to. (Back then, radio stations never played anything close to hard rock and metal on the air.) The band's positive reviews and articles intrigued me. And the cover of Killers was entrancing that I had to listen to any album that displayed such extraordinary, alluring artwork. That was all it took: I was hooked on this little-known band from London called Iron Maiden.
June 29, 1982 was a significant night for both of us. It was my first Maiden concert, and the band's first headlining American show, at the old Palladium in New York City. There might have been nine other girls there - it was a rarity for females to attend metal shows back then. Fortunately, this performance was recorded for American radio, and is now one of the most bootlegged Maiden shows. I have bragging rights to say, "I was there," whenever I come across it in anyone's collection.
I've acquired more than my share of Maiden collectibles over the years. At the center of it all is The Soundhouse Tapes; their self-released EP from 1979 and somewhat of a holy grail amongst Maiden records. I've also amassed multiple pressings of their albums from various countries, colored vinyl, seven and 12-inch singles with that all-important non-album track, picture discs, various boxed sets, dozens of bootlegs, and tons of memorabilia. My car is part of the collection as well; Iron Maiden (minus a few letters) is my license plate, making me the only person in New York State who can pledge devotion while driving to the supermarket.
I'm fortunate, too, in that I have a longtime association with the band. I met Steve Harris at WBAB-FM - where I was working as an intern - the day after the aforementioned Palladium concert. He gave me a ticket, and my first-ever backstage pass, for the show they were playing that night on Long Island. It proved to not be the last; my jobs over the years - in writing and radio - have allowed me to see them multiple times on every tour since, and the band, along with their manager Rod Smallwood has always shown me the same respect and loyalty that I've given them. There are very few bands or individuals in the music industry I have this genuine admiration and regard for - and to get it back is very rare, and very cool.
* The plate has been renewed several times per NYS law. The current version is on my car.