Iron Maiden are an acquired taste. Some say they overblown, ridiculous and dumb, but some people have negative things to say about them too. Right from the start when they were playing pubs and rock venues in London in the late 70s, their lighting man – Dave “Lights” Beasley – has been involved with setting up Eddie, the band’s mascot on stage. In this blog, we’re going to look at the set design from their best tours.
Original Eddie – Late 70s
The original Eddie was made by Dave “Lights” Beasley and consisted of a wooden board with a painted Papier-mâché head moulded from his own face. This head was nicknamed “Eddie the ‘ead” by Steve Harris and became synonymous with the band, appearing on all their album artwork. The original head had a fish tank pump that would pump out “blood” in the form of, as Dave Lights says “everything from emulsion paint to food dye” over then drummer Doug Sampson. Lights remarked “I’d get a few slaps from the drummer’s girlfriends because they couldn’t wash the colour out” but a legend was born.
World Slavery Tour – 1984-1985
At the time the longest tour ever undertaken by a band, the World Slavery Tour was in support of the Powerslave album, which featured an ancient Egyptian style Eddie on the Derek Riggs artwork. The stage set was designed so that it could be used in theatres and arena and borrowed lots of ideas form theatre productions. The drum riser sat in front of a massive Eddie inside a sarcophagus which opened to reveal a mummified version of the band’s mascot. The stage set can be seen in the Live After Death video which captured the band at the peak of their powers in Long Beach Arena, Los Angeles. The band were the first to bring a full-scale arena show behind the Iron curtain and the ingenuity of the set meant it worked just as well there as it did everywhere else.
Somewhere on Tour – 1986-1987
The follow up to Powerslave, Somewhere in Time, featured a futuristic cyborg killer version of Eddie in its artwork. As a child, I fell in love with this artwork with its Blade Runner inspired metropolis. Though not quite as decorative as the World Slavery Tour’s set it looks relatively sparse until the drums and either side of the stage raise up, revealing cyborg Eddie’s hands and face. The stage set can be seen here in the Stranger in a Strange Land video.
Seventh Tour of a Seventh Tour – 1988-1989
The Seventh Son of a Seventh Son album was conceptually a departure for Maiden, with a dark concept based on European folklore about children who could heal the sick, see the future and in South American mythology turn into the Luison when they reach 13, the equivalent of a werewolf. The album cover had cyborg Eddie cut in half with a womb containing a child hanging out of it, surrounded by ice. This bizarre image made it into the stage set and it was used for their record-breaking show at 1988’s Monsters of Rock at Castle Donnington in England and can be seen in the Maiden England video.