Nowadays, Iron Maiden are one of the most formidable names in the history of heavy metal and their 1985 live LP, Live After Death, is frequently hailed as a paragon of the format. If 99% of metalheads saw Bruce Dickinson on the street offering to sell an original vinyl copy of the album for $100, they’d bow at his feet and bite his hand off. Apparently this wasn’t the case back in the day though.
In 1985, Bruce filmed a skit for the MTV programme Heavy Metal Mania: a short-lived precursor to the juggernaut Headbangers Ball. It showed The Air-Raid Siren stranded in New York City, unable to get home to the UK, and with only some surplus Live After Death vinyls to help him raise funds for a plane ticket. His attempt to take to the streets and have strangers buy some Maiden didn’t go exactly to plan.
The footage (embedded below) shows Bruce employing all his best salesman tactics. “If Napoleon had one of these, he’d have beaten the English at the Battle Of Waterloo,” he tells one passerby. “It’s only $100 and it’s got an eight-page booklet!” he says to another, before getting so desperate that he offers some discounts: “I’ll tell you what, I won’t sell you this for $100 – I’ll give it to you for $99.99, how about that?”
Ultimately, Bruce does turn a bit of a profit – a mere 11 cents. “Let’s see if I can find a taxi! You can never find a taxi in New York!” he says, before chasing after a passing limousine. “I got 11 cents here and I want to get to London, England,” the frontman tells the driver, before getting an amazing response: “Well get in! Let’s go!”
Mercifully, after Bruce finally got home, there was a more graceful ending: Live After Death charted at number 2 in the UK and was swiftly followed by Somewhere In Time in 1986. Both releases, with their immense scope and powerful production, affirmed Iron Maiden as one of the heavy bands of not just the ’80s, but all of music history.