Iron Maiden's Eddie the Head through the years (2022)

To celebrate the launch of Iron Maiden's The Future Past Tour featuring a 'Somewhere in Time'/'Senjutsu' hybrid Eddie, Planet Rock takes a pictorial look at the evolution of Iron Maiden's beloved mascot over the decades.

Eddie the Head is Iron Maiden’s beloved and ever-evolving mascot that has graced the vast majority of the band’s artwork and merchandise since the early eighties. He is also a permanent fixture at Iron Maiden’s live concerts. Eddie is undoubtedly the most famous mascot in heavy metal history.

The first incarnation of Eddie the Head was a papier-mâché mask created by Iron Maiden’s early lighting and pyro man Dave "Lights" Beazley. Eddie soon evolved into a larger fibreglass head equipped with laser eyes and breathing dry ice through his mouth.

Iron Maiden’s long-term manager Rod Smallwood then recruited artist Derek Riggs to bring Eddie the Head to life on Iron Maiden’s self-titled debut album ‘Iron Maiden’ in 1980. Eddie’s first official appearance was on February 1980 single ‘Running Free’, however it was in silhouette form as Iron Maiden didn’t want to reveal Eddie’s identity yet.

See photos of Eddie the Head’s evolution below, from ‘Running Free’ in 1980 right up to the recently unleashed 'The Writing On The Wall' video.

Iron Maiden - ‘Running Free’ (1980)

Eddie the Head made his first appearance on Iron Maiden's debut single 'Running Free' in February 1980. His creator, Portsmouth born artist Derek Riggs, obscured the face to build an enigmatic aura ahead of the release of their self-titled debut album two months later.

Iron Maiden - ‘Iron Maiden' (1980)

Iron Maiden - Eddie's proper horrorshow face was finally unveiled when 'Iron Maiden' hit the shelves in April 1980. The image is based on the original sketch Riggs drew in late 1979, however, with added hair to make Eddie look more metal.

Iron Maiden - ‘Sanctuary’ (1980)

In May 1980, Eddie stoked up some controversy through his depiction on the 'Sanctuary' single cover. Wielding a knife, Eddie stands proudly above the dead corpse of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Iron Maiden - 'Women In Uniform' (1980)

On Iron Maiden's third single 'Women In Uniform', Thatcher gets her own back on Eddie. Dressed in full army uniform and clutching a machine gun, the PM lies in wait for Eddie who's distracted by the attention of two ladies.

Iron Maiden - 'Killers' (1981)

Continuing the murderous theme, on Iron Maiden's second album, 'Killers', Eddie is holding a blood-smeared axe as his unfortunate victim claws at his chest. The block of flats in the background is based on where Riggs was living at the time.

Iron Maiden - 'Twilight Zone' (1981)

Released in March 1981, the 'Twilight Zone' single cover depicts the spirit of Eddie reaching out at a crying woman through a mirror. As the song's lyrics suggest ("She lays in bed at night and that is when I make my call. But when she stares at me, she can't see nothing at all. Because you see I can't take no shape or form. It's been three long years since I've been gone"), Eddie is actually the woman's former lover who is contacting her from purgatory.

Iron Maiden - 'Purgatory' (1981)

The memorable sleeve of June 1981's 'Purgatory' sees Lucifer's face melt away to reveal Eddie's face beneath. It was the start of a satanic chapter in Eddie's history.

Iron Maiden 'Maiden Japan' (1981)

The original cover of September 1981's 'Maiden Japan' live EP depicted Eddie clutching the decapitated head of the then frontman Paul Di'Anno. Maiden manager Rod Smallwood swiftly ordered a redraft when he saw it as the band were preparing to oust Di'Anno. Despite his best efforts, the EP was released with the original sleeve in South America.

Iron Maiden - 'The Number of the Beast' (1982)

The artwork for 'The Number of the Beast' was originally meant to be used on the 'Purgatory' cover eight months earlier, however, the band were so overawed that they asked Riggs to hold it back for their next album. An iconic image of Eddie holding Satan like a puppet and Satan clutching an even smaller Eddie, it was all too predictably condemned by staunch Christians in America.

Iron Maiden - 'Run To The Hills' (1982)

According to Derek Riggs, the artwork for the timeless anthem 'Run To The Hills' is based on the idea of a "power struggle in hell" between Eddie and Satan.

Iron Maiden - 'The Number of the Beast' (1982)

The album title track cover is the aftermath of Eddie and Satan's battle on 'Run To The Hills'. Eddie, of course, won and he's proudly clutching Lucifer's pathetic cranium.

Iron Maiden - 'Flight of Icarus' (1983)

A cheeky swipe at Led Zeppelin, on the 'Peace of Mind' lead single a winged Eddie has just torched Icarus with flamethrower. Derek Riggs has admitted that Icarus was deliberately based on Led Zep's iconic Swan Song logo.

Iron Maiden - 'Piece of Mind' (1983)

May 1983's 'Piece of Mind' saw Eddie undergo a dramatic transformation into a deranged, lobotomised mental patient complete with shackles, straightjacket and padded room. How the mighty have fallen, eh?

Iron Maiden - 'The Trooper' (1983)

A stark juxtaposition to the album, Maiden's timeless 1983 anthem 'The Trooper' aptly came with one of the most iconic realisations of Eddie ever. Wearing red military regalia, Eddie is an unstoppable British soldier who has charged through the opposition like a hot knife through butter. A truly iconic image.

Iron Maiden - '2 Minutes to Midnight' (1984)

Smoking a cigar, clutching a machine gun and pointing directly at us mere mortals, Eddie looks defiant as an atomic bomb mushroom cloud erupts in the background.

Iron Maiden - 'Powerslave' (1984)

The visually striking, ancient Egyptian themed cover for Iron Maiden's fifth album in 1984 saw Eddie morph into a giant stone Pharoah. Humorously the entrance to the pyramid is via Eddie's crotch. The artwork inspired the extravagant, boundary pushing stage production on the sprawling World Slavery Tour of 1984/85.

Iron Maiden - 'Aces High' (1984)

The song tells the story of a British RAF pilot fighting against the German Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain in 1940 so Riggs duly re-enacted this with Eddie playing the song's protagonist.

Iron Maiden - 'Live After Death' (1985)

Recorded during Iron Maiden's colossal World Slavery Tour, in keeping with its title the Live After Death artwork sees a fiery Eddie heroically rise from his deathbed. Eddie is an amalgamation of his previous guises – he has the hair of his earliest incarnations but the cracked lobotomised skull and shackles (bound by an electrical current) of 'Peace of Mind' era.

Iron Maiden - 'Run To The Hills' (live) (1985)

Backed by a live version of their 1980 track 'Phantom of the Opera' (not to be confused with the soppy Andrew Lloyd Webber composition of six years later), the live single release of 'Run To The Hills' in 1985 depicts Eddie as the phantom taking off his mask while playing his metallic organ one-handed amidst a hilly landscape.

Iron Maiden 'Wasted Years' (1986)

The first tantalising glimpse of Eddie's new cyborg manifestation came via a computer screen reflection on September 1986's 'Wasted Years'.

Iron Maiden - 'Somewhere in Time' (1986)

The cyborg Eddie was revealed in all his glory for the very first time when 'Somewhere in Time' landed three weeks after 'Wasted Years'. Across the visually potent front and back cover there are dozens of references to the band's history and previous album/single sleeves. The band themselves even make an appearance!

Iron Maiden - 'Stranger in a Strange Land' (1986)

A delicious droid hybrid of Clint Eastwood in Man With No Name and Decker in Blade Runner, a suave Eddie looks cool as f*ck on the November 1986 single cover. Throw into the mix some Star Wars-esque creatures and yet more Maiden back referencing (the clock is at 2 Minutes To Midnight) and you're onto a winner.

Iron Maiden - 'Can I Play with Madness' (1988)

Just like the upcoming album 'Seventh Song of a Seventh Son', the artwork to the March 1988 single saw Riggs delve into more surreal realms. Eddie's decapitated, hovering head is part cyborg/part boiled egg while a corkscrew fist smashes through it clutching at the remnants of his brain.

Iron Maiden - 'Seventh Son of a Seventh Son' (1988)

An image that draws parallels with those great surrealists Rene Magritte and Salvador Dali, the bodiless, floating Eddie holding his innards (which entomb a baby Eddie) while his head burns directly contrasts to the still and serene polar landscape. Rod Smallwood's brief was to create something "surreal and bloody weird" – Riggs succeeded emphatically.

Iron Maiden 'The Evil That Men Do' (1988)

The surrealism was stepped up a notch on the August 1988 single with Eddie's head reduced to a cloud of smoke, his trademark teeth and robotic eyes. The mascot's mouth houses a tortured ghoul, snakes and battery volts escape from his skull and a grinning, lightning bolt winged demon sits atop clutching a contract.

Iron Maiden - 'The Clairvoyant' (1988)

Riggs has revealed that the three-headed, ultra surreal Eddie represents the past, present and the future.

Iron Maiden - 'Maiden England' (1989)

The legendary 1989 live video (recorded at Birmingham NEC a year earlier) came complete with a cover image of a leather-clad, long-haired Eddie flying over a crowd clutching a battered Union Jack flag in homage to The Trooper.

Iron Maiden - 'Holy Smoke'' (1990)

In keeping with the Televangelist bashing song, an enraged, everyday Eddie throws televisions broadcasting the money grabbing sermons into a billowing fire. Good effort, Eddie.

Iron Maiden - 'No Prayer for the Dying' (1990)

The first non-wraparound cover since 1983's 'Peace of Mind' sees Eddie emerging from a grave once again – this time clawing at an unfortunate undertaker's neck. Riggs completely abandoned the cyborg and lobotomy aspects of more recent Eddies and returned to the first incarnation.

Iron Maiden - 'Bring Your Daughter… to the Slaughter' (1990)

Iron Maiden's only chart-topping single came with two sleeves. One depicts Eddie clutching Jessica Rabbit outside The Paradise Club (named after the TV show Bruce was acting in) while the other sees him play the grim reaper in a graveyard.

Iron Maiden - 'Be Quick or Be Dead' (1992)

A song about a number of political scandals that erupted in the late eighties and early nineties, the cover sees Eddie strangle a cut-out of Robert Maxwell – the man at the centre of a huge banking scandal at the time.

Iron Maiden - 'Fear of the Dark' (1992)

Released in May 1992, Iron Maiden's ninth album was a landmark for Eddie as it was the first time he'd been penned by another artist. Derek Riggs' submissions were rejected in favour of Melvyn Grant's eerie painting of a half-tree/half-demon Eddie. In Mick Wall's 2004 Maiden biog, Rod Smallwood commented: "We wanted to upgrade Eddie for the 90s. We wanted to take him from the sort of comic-book horror creature and turn him into something… even more threatening."

Iron Maiden - 'A Real Live One' (1993)

Derek Riggs returned to the fray in style for the 1993 live album 'A Real Live One' where a fang-toothed Eddie bites through high voltage cable.

Iron Maiden - 'Fear of the Dark (live)' (1993)

Riggs transformed Eddie into Iron Maiden founding member and bass-wielding legend Steve Harris for the live single release, complete with trademark stage pose.

Iron Maiden - 'A Real Dead One' (1993)

On Iron Maiden's second live album in six months, Eddie plays a Radio Hell Disc Jockey. Sadly for Eddie, his chronic excess saliva condition hasn't shifted.

Iron Maiden - 'Hallowed Be Thy Name (live)' (1993)

With tensions high in Maiden, in 1993 Bruce Dickinson left the band to focus on his solo career. Two months later in a cheeky parting shot the cover of the live version of Maiden's 1982 anthem depicts a demonic Eddie impaling the departed frontman with a gargantuan spear.

Iron Maiden - 'Live at Donington' (1993)

Artist Mark Wilkinson (famed for his Marillion album covers) became only the third man to draw Eddie on Live at Donington.

Iron Maiden - 'The X Factor ' (1995)

Created by graphic artist Hugh Syme (noted for his work with Rush), the lobotomy Eddie was revived on this hard-hitting sleeve. Due to the graphic, gritty realism of the hideous torture Eddie suffered, the band were forced to issue a reversible sleeve for the October 1995 release containing a much tamer image.

Iron Maiden - 'Man on the Edge' (1995)

Released a month before The X Factor, Man on the Edge gave a stomach-turning glimpse of Hugh Syme's scalped and tortured Eddie.

Iron Maiden - 'Lord of the Flies' (1996)

Another macabre Syme creation, this time Eddie is transformed into a beleaguered monarch straped to a torture device and flanked by two giant flies.

Iron Maiden - 'Virus' (1996)

Iron Maiden's standalone single came with three separate covers and two Eddie incarnations. Derek Rigg's created an animated Eddie head on a circuit board but our pick is Syme's proper scary version which adorned CD1 and CD2. Awesome.

Iron Maiden - 'The Angel and the Gambler' (1998)

Released over four different formats, the single came with two versions of a bogey green Eddie. One of an Uncle Sam-esque Eddie standing outside a boat casino and the other depicts just the head and hand of a lobotomised Eddie that would eventually appear on the Ed Hunter sleeve.

Iron Maiden - 'Futureal' (1998)

Two Eddies were revived for the alternate 'Futureal' covers – the cyborg Eddie of 'Somewhere In Time' and a futuristic version of the Pharoah Eddie from 'Powerslave'.

Iron Maiden - 'Virtual XI ' (1998)

Maiden drafted in Melvyn Grant again for the artwork to their 1998 album – their second and final release with Blaze Bayley on vocals. An all-consuming demon like Eddie straight from the bowels of hell ominously reaches for a child wearing a virtual reality headset.

Iron Maiden - 'Ed Hunter' (1999)

An almost Incredible Hulk-esque Eddie graced the cover of the video game and accompanying greatest hits album from 1999.

Iron Maiden - 'Brave New World' (2000)

At the turn of the Millennium, in Derek Riggs' brilliant creation Eddie appeared as a menacing cloud of smoke above a space-age London skyline. Two years later the 'Rock in Rio' live record revived the cover but switched the landscape for the Brazilian city.

Iron Maiden - 'The Wicker Man' (2000)

Directly influenced by the cult horror film of the same name, Eddie was transformed into a living embodiment of The Wicker Man by artist Mark Wilkinson.

Iron Maiden - 'Out of the Silent Planet' (2000)

Keeping up their trait of issuing different sleeves, one depicts the current Brave New World Eddie and the other harks back to his eighties past.

Iron Maiden - 'BBC Archives' (2002)

The Derek Riggs artwork is based on a picture he created for Billboard Magazine of a giant Eddie smashing Capitol Records in Los Angeles to smithereens. For the archives boxset he switched it for Broadcasting House in London.

Iron Maiden - 'Beast over Hammersmith' (2002)

Adapted from a 1982 Derek Riggs tour poster, the live album sleeve features the traditional Eddie grinding a British flag into Planet Earth.

Iron Maiden - 'Best of the ‘B’ Sides' (2002)

An absolutely phenomenal Mark Wilkinson illustration of Eddie mooning from the front seat of a truck. Some editions feature the slogan 'Maiden Rule' across Eddie's buttocks while others are emblazoned with 'Up The Irons'.

Iron Maiden - 'Edward The Great' (2002)

Named after their legendary mascot, Iron Maiden's third compilation album from November 2002 boasts a very regal looking Eddie sitting on his rightful throne and flanked by fierce wolves. It is American illustrator Tom Adams' only realisation of Eddie.

Iron Maiden - 'Dance of Death' (2003)

Eddie plays the role of the grim reaper again on David Patchett's computer generated sleeve for the 2003 release. One of Iron Maiden's most poorly received album covers, it's reported that Patchett asked for his name to be removed from the credits as he was unhappy that an unfinished version was used.

Iron Maiden - 'Wildest Dreams' (2003)

The September 2003 single cover is a still from the computer animated video, which sees the six band members traverse a barren landscape in race cars before being swallowed by a giant Eddie.

Iron Maiden - 'Rainmaker' (2003)

The close up of Eddie's deliciously evil face in front of a bleak, rain-lashed background is another video still.

Iron Maiden - 'Death on the Road' (2005)

Having been a mortician slaying zombie in the past (see 1990's 'No Prayer for the Dying'), in a complete role reversal Eddie is depicted as an undertaker from the bowels of hell on 2005 live album/DVD 'Death on the Road'. The awesome cover was designed by Melvyn Grant.

Iron Maiden - 'The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg' (2006)

The undertaker Eddie is seen attacking or digging up the grave of the enigmatic subject of the song, Benjamin Breeg. Ahead of the song's release in August 2006, a temporary website was launched detailing the mystery figure's hazy biography – the band themselves, however, have remained tight-lipped about Benjamin's exact identity and story.

Iron Maiden - 'A Matter of Life and Death' (2006)

In keeping with the 2006 album's recurring theme of war and religion, Eddie is depicted as a skeletal soldier (just like on '2 Minutes to Midnight' and 'The Trooper') driving a tank through a desolate, war-torn landscape with his comrades.

Iron Maiden Eddie Logo

The striking Eddie skull and machine gun logo soon became a merchandise favourite.

Iron Maiden - 'Different World' (2006)

Like a deranged, malevolent Atlas, Eddie has the world in his claws once again. The cover is yet another video still.

Iron Maiden - 'Somewhere Back in Time' (2008)

The Derek Riggs designed cover for the 2008 early career retrospective sees two of his finest Eddie creations combine in style – the laser gun wielding futuristic cyborg Eddie erupts volcano-like out of the Pharaoh Eddie monument. Brilliant.

Iron Maiden - 'El Dorado' (2010)

Given away as a free download ahead of the release of Maiden's 15th album 'The Final Frontier', graphic artist Anthony Dry showcased Melvyn Grant's upcoming new extra-terrestrial Eddie in a retro comic book form.

Iron Maiden - 'The Final Frontier' (2010)

Just when we thought we'd seen every manifestation of Eddie, artist Melvyn Grant concocted this glorious alien-like beast. This version of Eddie was highly divisive amongst fans due to its stark difference to previous incarnations – some even speculated that it wasn't the mascot at all. Steve Harris described this Eddie as "possibly the most outrageous one to date". He could have a point!

Iron Maiden - 'Satellite 15... The Final Frontier' (2010)

The second Anthony Dry realisation continued the comic book theme but depicted Eddie's head as a huge glowing orb.

Iron Maiden - 'From Fear to Eternity' (2011)

The two-decade spanning greatest hits collection is adorned with a Melvyn Grant painting that features three different Eddies from the 1990 to 2010 era – the grim reaper Eddie (2003's 'Dance of Death'), the tank driving army skeleton Eddie (2006's 'A Matter Of Life and Death') and the burning wicker man from the Brave New World single.

Iron Maiden - 'En Vivo!' (2012)

The gargantuan head of Grant's alien Eddie looms ominously over Estadio Nacional in Santiago, Chile on the front of Maiden's killer live album from 2012.

Iron Maiden - 'Maiden England ’88' (2013)

The 2013 reissue of the classic Iron Maiden live video ditched the motorbike-straddling, leather-clad classic Eddie on the original cover in favour of The Trooper era Eddie jumping through the air on horseback.

Iron Maiden - 'The Book of Souls' (2015)

Eddie gets a Mayan makeover for the stunning Mark Wilkinson designed artwork on 2015's The Book Of Souls.

Iron Maiden - The Legacy of the Beast

The Satanic Eddie unleashed for the 2018 Legacy of the Beast tour.

Iron Maiden - Nights Of The Dead, Legacy Of The Beast: Live In Mexico City (2020)

Iron Maiden's November 2020 live album 'Nights Of The Dead, Legacy Of The Beast: Live In Mexico City' features a fearsome Eddie wearing a Day of the Dead death mask.

Eddie the Head in 'The Writing On The Wall'

The fearsome samurai incarnation of Eddie the Head in Iron Maiden's 2021 video for new song 'The Writing On The Wall'. Wow!

Iron Maiden - 'Senjutsu'

Iron Maiden once again drafted in the services of Mark Wilkinson to create the spectacular Samurai themed cover artwork for September 2021's 'Senjutsu', based on an idea by Steve Harris.

Iron Maiden - The Future Past Tour

In October 2022, Iron Maiden announced their new concert tour, The Future Past Tour. Featuring material from their 2021 record 'Senjutsu' and seminal 1986 album 'Somewhere in Time', the tour artwork duly featured a hybrid Eddie from both the album covers - part Samurai Eddie and part cyborg Eddie.

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