Iron Maiden's mascot Eddie is almost as well known as the British metal giants themselves. The villainous creature began life as a simple stage prop in the formative years of the band's career and evolved through various incarnations to become an integral part of every aspect of the multi-platinum seller's career over the decades.
Eddie was originally the brainchild of former Iron Maiden stage manager Dave Beaslly. Beaslly hired an art student friend to create a zombie-like head made from papier-mâché in the mid-70s, which was used in live shows. The head hung above the drum kit and was wired with a hose so it could spit blood from its mouth.
The eye-catching prop proved to be such a successful gimmick at live shows, it prompted the "Flight of Icarus" hitmaker's current manager Ron Smallwood to suggest that Iron Maiden use a revamped version of Eddie on the cover of their 1980 self-titled debut album. Smallwood enlisted the services of illustrator Derek Riggs, who added a body to the skelton-like head, which had spiked blonde hair and red eyes. Iron Maiden and their support team began to call the figure "Eddie" (a play on the word "head").
From this point on creature would grace the artwork of every Iron Maiden single and studio album, beginning with the band's debut single "Running Free." Eddie's role during live concerts also expanded over time. The papier-mâché head was replaced with a fiberglass model, which had flashing eyes and blew red smoke. Eddie also began to receive a walk-on segment, which began with Smallwood appearing on stage wearing an Eddie mask and leather jacket.
Eddie's appearances were adapted to suit the theme of the given album, single or tour. On Iron Maiden's 1981 sophomore album Killers, his menacing figure brandishes a hatchet and on 1982's The Number of the Beast, Eddie appears as a puppeteer controlling the figure of Satan. In 1983's Piece of Mind, the creepy character is locked in a padded cell, sporting a bolt in his head after receiving a lobotomy, and on 1984's Powerslave, Eddie morphs into the figure of a mummified pharaoh at the center of an ancient Egyptian monument.
Eddie's appearance at live shows has also evolved and expanded. During The Beast On The Road Tour, the band began using a actor dressed as Eddie on stilts to make the character appear to be ten feet tall. This huge version of Eddie became a hit with fans and continues to be one of the highlights of any Iron Maiden concert.
Eddie's popularity with fans also prompted the band to feature his image on t-shirts and posters sold at their concerts. Over the years, Eddie has even become an action figure and a;sp appears in the 1999 video game Ed Hunter and the 2016 role-playing game Iron Maiden: Legacy of the Beast
Eddie has become an iconic figure in his own right over the years. His appearance is one of the highlights of the band's current Legacy Of The Beast Tour and his horrific visage will continue to play a key role in Iron Maiden's artwork, concerts and merchandising for years to come until the band decides to take its final curtain call.
Check out the various incarnations of Eddie in the video above. For more details on Iron Maiden, click here.