An Illustrated History Of Eddie The Head

The undisputed ultimate heavy metal mascot has taken many forms throughout Maiden's expansive career from his appearance as a street hoodlum on their first ever single to the weird, the wonderful and sometimes downright macabre incarnations gracing the cover of record collections across the globe. He's appeared on every album, helped Maiden sell a fuck load of t-shirts, loomed large at some of the finest concerts you could ever bang your head to and been responsible for getting a hell of a load of people get into metal just because they liked the cover. Eddie The Head, we salute you. This is your life.

1980 Running Free

Designed by Derek Riggs, the very first Eddie appeared as a bottle swinging yoof on the band’s first ever record Running Free. Influenced by a papier mache mask that the band used to glamorise their stage set this 2D version of ‘The Head unwittingly set the tone for decades to come. Is it a skeleton? It is a zombie? Who cares, it looks fucking cool.

1981 Killers

Iron Maiden unleashed their second album on the world in 1981, and with it one of the most iconic covers to date. Eddie’s sinewy figure cuts a chilling image and shows this maverick wielding a blood-splattered axe just a stone’s throw from Maiden’s local The Ruskin Arms. And we wonder why the East End has a bad rep!

1982 Number O The Beast

What could be more metal than a zombie skeleton playing puppeteer with the Devil while bolts of lightning and flames shoot from its hands? None more metal is the answer. Apparently the album pissed off a few American evangelists and our guess is the cover didn’t help! For the Beast On The Road tour Eddie gets a walk-on part as a stilt-walking menace thus promoting him to three-dimensional status and to this day his stage appearances are still the highlight of many a Maiden show.

1983 The Trooper

Released as a single lifted from Maiden’s fourth album Piece Of Mind, The Trooper saw our Eddie depicted as a Red Coat during the Charge Of The Light Brigade. This symbol of nationalistic pride, far from being jingoistic, has become a staple in Maiden’s live sets where we often see ol’ Brucey waving the flag for true British heavy metal.

1983 Piece Of Mind

In stark contrast to the confident young buck displayed on the preceding single The Trooper, for the album itself – Piece of Mind – we see Eddie as a withered lobotomised maniac… like most caners after three days at a metal festival (probably smelling faintly of wee).

**1984 Powerslave **

Regarded by many as the best Eddie, 1984’s Powerslave takes a sojourn to the outer reaches of Ancient Egypt, casting Ed as a majestic Egyptian pharaoh. As if that wasn’t cool enough, Eddie embodies an electrocuted mummy for the World Slavery Tour poster making it one of the raddest pictorial representations of the band’s mascot ever.

1985 Live After Death

Holy fuck balls! This is one seriously badass cover. Here’s Eddie complete with his wild hair, enraged with pure wanton zombie lust erupting from his loins in an explosive grave exit.

**1986 Somewhere In Time **

Woah, thing’s are getting futuristic, man. Gone are the days of zombies and mummies; this is 1986 and mobile phones and Nintendos are making the world feel like Blade Runner, which as it happens is the influence for this cyborg version of Eddie. A precursor for Evil Scarecrow’s Robototron, perhaps?

1988 Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son

Amazing album, shit Eddie. For this one ‘The Head is nearly that, just a torso bobbing around in some kind of Dali-esque artic scenery. Probably a bit nippy.

1991 Fear Of The Dark

Out goes Derek Riggs and in comes Melvyn Grant for Maiden’s first album cover designed by a new artist. Eddie has morphed into a freaky tree monster proving that even nature can be scary. Anyway, have you been to the park at night? Who knows what’s lurking in the bushes.

1995 The X Factor

From 1994 to 1999 former Wolfsbane chappy Blaze Bayley replaced Bruce Dickinson on mic duties as Dicko trundled off to pursue a solo career. What does this mean for Eddie? Well, he became a lobotomised victim of disembowelment, obvs. Probably the most grim cover Maiden have ever done, Eddie is seen clamped to an operating table with skewers driven through his gaunt cheeks. From a distance he looks like he’s giving the thumbs up… which is a bit weird.

2006 A Matter Of Life And Death

Corpse soldiers, a big fuck-off tank and a barely recognisable Eddie, this cover designed by Tim Bradstreet divided opinion not least because our Ed does not take centre stage. But when you’ve had had a lobotomy, travelled through time and had your rectum wrenched out from beneath you sometimes it’s nice to take a back seat.

2010 The Final Frontier

A question mark still looms over whether this is actually Eddie. Artist Melvyn Grant has suggested that it is simply an alien but the band state that this colourful extraterrestial is the real deal. Either way it’s one helluva cover that still has Maiden fans new and old picking up the tees, the album and whatever frickin’ merch they can get their mitts on in droves.

Holly Wright

With over 10 years’ experience writing for Metal Hammer and Prog, Holly has reviewed and interviewed a wealth of progressively-inclined noise mongers from around the world. A fearless voyager to the far sides of metal Holly loves nothing more than to check out London’s gig scene, from power to folk and a lot in between. When she’s not rocking out Holly enjoys being a mum to her daughter Violet and working as a high-flying marketer in the Big Smoke.