The story behind Iron Maiden’s Number Of The Beast

It was no coincidence that the B-side of Iron Maiden’s debut single (Running Freereleased February 1980) was entitled Burning Ambition. In contrast to the majority of the bands that fueled the nascent New Wave Of British Heavy Metal 40 years ago, Steve Harris’s crew had the vision, focus, commitment and discipline of a band with nothing less than world domination on their minds.

After years of tireless gigging, the Londoners’ first two albums – Iron Maiden (1980) and Killers (1981) – had thrust them firmly into the spotlight – with unforgettable, iconic, Eddie-centric artwork providing another layer of intrigue. Unfortunately, the best-laid plans almost always turn to shit, and by the time Maiden were reaching the end of their US tour in support of Killersit had become abundantly apparent that talismanic frontman Paul Di’Anno was rather more interested in getting wasted on cocaine and booze than he was in delivering the high-quality performances that the band had made their trademark.

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