Iron Maiden are the classic British success story: working-class East End boys made good – and then some.
But that thumbnail description barely does Steve Harris’s eternal warhorses justice. The scale of Maiden’s success can’t be measured just in album sales – although 100 million-plus isn’t to be sniffed at – so much as the huge influence they’ve exerted over the past 40 years. Maiden are ‘world music’ incarnate, a truly global proposition, with a worldwide empire: Europe, South America, India, Asia… all have come under their spell. Ironically, the only place that hasn’t unconditionally embraced them is North America (which could explain why they’ve never even been nominated for the official Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame).
A mid-90s stumble aside, they’re also that rarest of beasts: a band whose success has grown the longer they’ve been going. They should put a blue plaque on the wall of the Ruskin Arms.
Jon Anderon on Toto
Jon Anderson: I’d been working with Vangelis in the early eighties, and heard about these session musicians called Toto. Then I heard their song Africa, and was drawn to the production, the songwriting – the quality, really.
In the mid-eighties I was asked to make a solo album. The record company said they could get Toto involved, so I jumped at the chance. Halfway through the sessions, I went to their studio and sang a track on their album The Seventh One. Yes, at the time, were really into constructing music rather than playing and recording as a band, so working with Toto was like going back to basics.
I don’t think they take themselves too seriously, but they believe in their own style of music. That’s the key, rather than worrying about musical fashions and trying too hard to make a hit record. They could, and do, play anything from rock to jazz to funk to ethnic music. They’re masters of modern music.