WATCH: Iron Maiden got asked to mime on live TV, and things didn't exactly go as planned

Maiden 86
(Image credit: P.I.T. YouTube)

Iron Maiden's aversion to miming on TV music shows was made clear early in their career. When the East London band were asked to perform - or rather lip-sync - their debut single Running Free on Top Of The Pops in February 1980 they refused to participate on the BBC's flagship music programme unless they were permitted to perform live: "Nobody since The Who in 1974 had done it live," Maiden's manager Rod Smallwood recalled, "but we stuck in and said, ‘No live, no Maiden.’”

“I had a bit of an anti Top Of The Pops thing,” bandleader Steve Harris admitted. “They never had anyone decent on, and I was really adamant that I wasn’t going to do it if they made us mime to a playback. I just thought ‘Bollocks to them. What have they ever done for me?’”

Maiden would get their wish.

Not everyone, however, got the memo. Take, for instance, the producers of German TV show P.I.T. who, in August 1986, extended an invite to the Londoners to perform Wasted Years, the lead-off single from the quintet's sixth studio album, Somewhere In Time on their show. This time, Maiden agreed to the request to mime their performance: in retrospect, the show's producers may have wished they'd been turned down.

The first hint that Maiden may not be taking their P.I.T. performance entirely seriously comes in the opening establishing shot, where viewers will notice that bassist Harris is playing a guitar, and guitarist Dave Murray has Harris' bass strapped around his neck. At the 40-second mark, Harris decides that, actually, he'd rather be the band's lead vocalist for a change, so he swaps places with Bruce Dickinson. But wait! Suddenly drummer Nicko McBrain ambles forward to the microphone, and Harris parks his arse on McBrain's drum stool. This is all starting to get very silly...

Bruce Dickinson recently confirmed that the band are intending to play last year’s acclaimed Senjutsu album in full on a future tour.

Speaking to Chris Jericho on the Fozzy vocalist’s Talk Is Jericho podcast, Dickinson said, “The plan we've got — it's not really a secret; I think everybody else has chatted about it — we will, I hope, we've talked about doing the entire album start to finish, but not this time around. And we all appreciate that that is something that really diehard fans will probably love and other people will go, ‘Hmmm, I'm not gonna go see that.’ So the answer is you play smaller venues so that they sell out with just your diehard fans. 'Cause it's a musical thing to do — it's a musical thing.”

Last year, Dickinson hinted to Classic Rock that Maiden were considering playing the album in full.

“Every song is Maiden at the top of our game. Every song could be a live favourite. We haven’t played a Maiden album from start to finish since [2006’s] A Matter Of Life And Death, but this album is so good that it could warrant being played in its entirety. Obviously, we haven’t finished the Legacy [Of The Beast] tour yet, but the thought of taking this album on the road is exciting to all of us.”

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.