On the cover of every Iron Maiden album and single1, the subject and focus of attention has been a zombie called Eddie. Usually up to no good, Eddie is a crucial part of Maiden. Without Eddie, the band lacks a little something, that little bit of individuality. He is the ultimate Maiden fan, the seventh member!
Eddie has been painted by Derek Riggs for 20 years, and in time by others such as Hugh Syme and Melvin Grant. The Brave New World cover was done by Steve Stone and Derek Riggs. The top half, featuring Eddie, was naturally painted by Riggs.
Eddie on the Album Covers
Iron Maiden (1980)
During Maiden's pub and club years, Eddie had been a head on a board at the back of the venue with the band's name on it. He would have flashing eyes and spew blood from his mouth when the band played their signature song, 'Iron Maiden'. It would also be normal for their manager and/or roadies to don Eddie masks and run around the stage screaming and jumping around at fans. Eddie has always been a part of the band's spectacular live act. On the cover of their self-titled debut album (not inspired by the picture of Neal Kay, the man pretty much responsible for the NWOBHM2), Eddie is simply there. On the 1998 reissue of the album, Eddie was changed slightly. The hair became white instead of gingerish, and he had cool glowing red eyes.
Eddie's hair on this album has been white since the day it was issued; no tinkering involved here. The album is called Killers, and Eddie has been caught doing exactly that. Holding a bloodied axe and with manacled hands clawing at his shirt, his eyes have turned to you and he reaches out with one hand in a 'better run' pose. Derek Riggs was fond of including Easter eggs3 in his works, and the Killers cover is the first to have a good one. Look at the red window in the background, and you can see Charlotte the Harlot4 from the first album.
The Number of the Beast (1982)
This album sparked controversy among American evangelists, with the cover adding fuel to the fire. Set in Hell, Eddie is towering over a finger-puppet of Satan, manipulating it with glee. However, Satan also has a finger-puppet, of Eddie. Who's manipulating who? However, the picture can have another meaning. Look at it the opposite way. Eddie is being manipulated by Satan, or so Beelzebub thinks. However, the real Eddie is towering over Lucifer, manipulating him! Eddie is all powerful, powerful enough to control Satan himself! Iron Maiden's gonna get you, no matter how far away you think you are!
Piece of Mind (1983)
Setting a trend for every picture to come after this one, Eddie is alone and chained to a cell, having just undergone a lobotomy. His long white hair is gone, and a small metal tab keeps the top of his head attached to the rest of him. Every other picture of Eddie is more or less faithful to this one.
This shows Eddie as an Egyptian Pharaoh, cast in stone on a pyramid. There is no deeper meaning in the image itself, though on the back cover all the figures in the hieroglyphs have been lobotomised (this is best looked for on LP covers).
Live after Death (1985)
Bursting out of the grave with lightning striking his forehead and bursting along his manacles, Eddie gets ready for the gig in Long Beach Arena, Los Angeles, California. Among the graves in the yard, there is one for Derek Riggs, and the one that Eddie is coming out of, Edward T Head. The date on his is 1975 - ...
Somewhere in Time (1986)
Set in a futuristic age, Eddie is a cyborg cop, having just blown another villain to shreds. This cover is the best for aforementioned Easter eggs.
The signs on the windows on the front cover read 'This is a very boring picture' backwards.
The street is Acacia Avenue. 22 Acacia Avenue is a song off the third album, home to Charlotte the Harlot (from the first album).
On the back cover... in the sky you can see Icarus off the cover of 'Flight of Icarus' (single from Piece of Mind).
The time is 23:58 or 'Two Minutes to Midnight' which is a single from Powerslave.
In the street there is the Ruskin Arms which is the pub where Maiden played in the 1970s. There is also the Aces High Bar ('Aces High' is a single from Powerslave) and Long Beach Arena which is the setting for Live After Death and more...
The film showing at the cinema is Live After Death
Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (1988)
This is a satisfyingly simple cover, at first glance. It shows half an Eddie (top half), holding his unborn son, still inside a placenta, in his left hand, he has an apple in his rib cage, the top of his head is missing and on fire but he still has a cyborg neck. All this is set in a surreal ice age environment. Note that all pictures of Eddie from this period have blood trickling from the metal tab on his forehead going down to his nose (with egg yolk instead of blood on the 'Can I Play with Madness' single cover).
No Prayer for the Dying (1990)
By now Maiden were a rather different band compared to ten years earlier. Only two members from the 1980 line-up were still around, and the music sure sounded different. No Prayer For The Dying marked a return to Maiden's roots, and that make over included Eddie. Bursting out of another, unrelated grave, and grabbing some poor bloke by the scruff of his neck, Eddie looks more or less identical to what he did eight years earlier.
Fear of the Dark (1991)
For the first time, Maiden decided to let a different artist have a stab at painting Eddie. They chose Melvyn Grant, who concocted a Nosferatu-esque picture of Eddie looming out of a nightmarish tree, part of the tree, on a moonlit night. It may sound impressive, but it isn't really.
A Real Live Dead One (1993)
A Real Live One and A Real Dead One were two live albums, reissued as one in 1998. The cover of A Real Live One was used for the double-album that was the reissue, and it was a very simple cover. Eddie, in the nude and a shade of blue, tears open a cable and is in the process of electrocuting himself. The dead one was more humorous. Eddie is the DJ on Radio Hell (666FM), and is tearing the decks to shreds and screaming into the microphone as fans try to break in from the burning outside. Derek Riggs was back at the helm drawing Eddie pictures.
Live At Donnington (1993)
Previously a bootleg, this was made into an album in 1998 due to popular demand. The least Eddie-like incarnation of Eddie, as instead of your conventional zombie, he is more of a giant bat.
The X Factor (1995)
New singer, new sound, new look cover. The most grim, gothic, graphic, and probably one of the best to date. The art from this album depicts the birth of Eddie. Eddie is stuck on an operating table in grim blackness. His lower half is missing and his guts trail out. Once again his skull is open, though this time it is to put his brain in. His head is clamped tight and a skewer has been driven through his cheeks. He is holding onto two handles that are picking out the flesh from his chest. It's quite a sight, which is why the band was forced to make an alternative cover. The alternative cover is no less grim though; Eddie is stuck in an electric chair, alone and unloved.
Best of the Beast (1996)
The cover is a collage of Eddie through the ages. In a straightjacket, mummified, pointing his cyborg gun, wielding his axe, flashing his hooks, dressed in Victorian-era British army uniform and rejuvenated by lightning. It shows seven forms of Eddie, all in new, dynamic poses (barring two) and looking more energetic than ever. The gravestone from Live After Death is there too.
Virtual XI (1998)
1998 was quite a year for Maiden. Their back-catalogue was reissued with enhanced sections for PCs and Macs, they had a PC game called Ed Hunter released, and their official website went up. Maiden has always been one to recognise and use the potential of computers and the Internet, and having a special bond with their fans made things easier with the net. This was reflected on the cover of this album. Painted by Melvin Grant, it is actually a bit of a mess to look at. All you can see of Eddie is his head, shoulders, and a hand reaching out for a kid wearing a virtual reality headset. The bottom left corner shows a football game (Maiden are big football fans - West Ham FC in particular), and in the background are ruined buildings and tortured souls. The grim redness of the background and sides clashes with the brightness of the kid and the football game, so this cover is a bit of an eyesore. Seeing as the game Ed Hunter was released at this time, we saw a lot of Eddie in digital form, wearing nothing but a shredded pair of blue trousers and looking a bit like a guy with no nose and a skin disease.
Brave New World (2000)
The bottom half of this picture is futuristic London. The top half shows Eddie's face in the clouds, grinning at this Brave New World. The cover of the CD version of 'The Wicker Man' single used a band picture instead of Eddie. However, the 12" picture disc and transparent CD versions of the single did have Eddie on, so Maiden redeemed themselves there.
Iron Maiden have released some 30-odd singles, all of which have been at least Top 40 hits. In 20 years, Eddie has killed Margaret Thatcher ('Sanctuary'), fought with the Devil ('Run to the Hills' and The Number Of The Beast), fought Russians (The Trooper) and Germans ('Aces High'), travelled through time, defied evangelists and the wrath of God ('Holy Smoke'), and pulled women ('Women in Uniform' and 'Bring your Daughter to the Slaughter'). He is as much a part of Maiden as any of the band members. He's fun, he's cool, he makes for great artwork. Iron Maiden's gonna get you!