I've been saying all week that Iron Maiden's "The Number of the Beast," now turning 30 years old , is a pinnacle achievement in the history of heavy metal and in the pantheon of the world's greatest, most memorable albums. It is a dynamic experience, rife with differing styles, musical ideas and divergent themes. Over the course of the week, I've enlisted other writers from the ranks here at Bloody Good Horror, as well as the world at large. For the final act of this week-long way ward play, I intended to reach out to the farthest corners of the heavy metal universe and have as many people feed back to me what their experience of Iron Maiden's cardinal effort are and were. What quickly became apparent in talking with friends, coworkers and contacts is that "The Number of the Beast" is an experience so tied into personal memory that people remember where they were and what they were doing when they first heard it.
So, we simply asked everyone we could get our hands on to answer the question: "Where were you when you first heard "The Number of the Beast, and what was your reaction to it? How has it influenced you and your art since?" The results, and the sheer volume of artists who wanted to be a part of it, are staggering. So much so that I had to divide their responses across two days. I am deeply humbled by everyone's submissions to and participation in this project, it has made it all the more incredible to assemble. But let me step out of the way. Here's Day One of responses to my question. Enjoy them, share them and then leave your own in the comments, and we'll be back tomorrow with more, as well as to wrap up and add some final thoughts.
When I first heard the intro to “The Number of the Beast,” it scared the shit out of me... And I wanted more.
Matt Duncan – Bass - DC4
I came to Iron Maiden gradually. I really started listening to old-school metal during the late 90's, which was sort of a fallow period for Maiden and for rock music generally, and started off hearing more their classic songs "Run to the Hills", "The Trooper", "Two Minutes to Midnight" than their classic albums. The first time I heard "The Number of the Beast" all the way through it blew me away. I was in a car on a road trip with M. Drew, which is the perfect way to hear it. You get the entire album, the speed of the car, somebody to sing or air guitar (or air drum) with, a goal and a destination. Maiden songs are powerful on their own, but within their albums they're incredible. Nobody does "epic" better than Maiden, nobody nails the ups and downs, the intricate guitar and the howling vocals and the galloping bass the way they can. It's also an album that gives you a lot to chew on. You can just rock out, or you can talk about your favorite part that's coming up, all the classic horror and historical and British references. It's a fantastic, complete work and it's one that's a hell of a lot of fun to share.
Greg Armstong - Who you might remember from last year's Black Sabbath Tribute Project
Jesus, Iron Maiden is one of the sickest metal bands ever. I still own an Iron Maiden shirt that was passed down to me by my father from like 1983. They have always been in my life since I was a little tyke rocking out to them and Metallica & ACDC. I will be a trooper of the Maiden ‘til death.
James Vegas – Vocals - Modern Day Escape
In 1984 I lived in a suburb of Omaha, Nebraska, the only access I had to any music other than Duran Duran, The Thompson Twins, and Michael Jackson was when Dee Snider from Twisted Sister would guest VJ on MTV. He would play AC/DC, Raven, WASP, and Ozzy videos among others. The hot Maiden track of the time was “Two Minutes to Midnight,” which was actually the first Maiden track I ever heard. I needed more. When my mom would take me to the mall or grocery store I would always look at the metal album covers and magazines. I loved the cover of “The Number of the Beast” as any good Catholic boy would. I would always ask my mom if I could get something and she usually said no. Finally she broke down and said I could have one cassette. I went straight to the I's and grabbed “The Number of the Beast.” I played it right when I got home on a crappy tape player. I listened to it in order as we all did back in those days. As I listened, I anticipated the title track and when I got there I was blown away. The heavy part sounded extra heavy on my shitty tape player. The triplet rhythm was stuck in my head. I swear I galloped instead of walked for months. I already had my gateway to metal, but this record locked me in for life. It has influenced me as a musician and has inspired me as an artist.
Phil Lipscomb – Bass – Taproot
I remember hearing it and loving it.
Andy Paul – Vocals - Scream Arena
Dave Matrise – Vocals/Guitar – Jungle Rot
The first time I ever heard anything off of "The Number of the Beast" was when I saw the music video for "Run to the Hills" on MTV. I think I was about ten years old when I saw it. Since that was around the time I started to get into metal, I went out and bought the CD as soon as my mom would let me. Since then Iron Maiden acted as a gateway drug and opened up the metal doors to a lot of the bands that I love and influence me still to this day. For Iron Maiden to still be doing what they do is truly admirable, it gives the rest of us who are so young in our musical career something to work towards.
Tim Goergen - Vocals – Within The Ruins
I had already known of the popular songs from N.O.T.B. for a few years, like “Hallowed Be thy Name,” “Run to the Hills,” and the title track, so upon receiving this as a Christmas gift from my drummer Derek Bean in 2001, I became an even bigger Maiden disciple than ever before. Lesser known tracks such as “Children of the Damned,” “The Prisoner,” “22 Acacia Avenue,” “Gangland,” the great opener “Invaders,” plus the added “Total Eclipse” made for such an incredible metal record. Bruce Dickinson's operatic yet aggressive voice, the Dave Murray/Adrian Smith duel blistering guitar leads, heavy riffing, skull-numbing bass lines courtesy of Steve Harris, and the best drumming Clive Burr had up to that point still makes my neck hurt to this day when we crank it. This record will never be considered dated because it is timeless".
Tyler Satterlee - Vocals/Guitar - Blessed Curse
I remember my brother had the cassette and we would listen to it all the time. I was only about 4 or 5 and the intro to the title song was probably the most evil thing I had ever heard. I loved it. I couldn't imagine there was anything heavier out there, Slayer's "Reign In Blood" blew that out of the water a few years later but I've been a loyal Maiden fan ever since. At the time I pretty much just listened to “The Number of the Beast” and “Run To the Hills,” but years later I started listening to the entire album from start to finish a lot. "Hallowed Be Thy Name" is probably one of my favorite songs by any band and I watched the entire "The Prisoner" series just so I could know what the hell that song is about. I still listen to at least a couple tracks from this album at least once a week.
Joe – Staff Writer - Bloody Good Horror
Mem Von Stein - Vocals - EXUMER
I was about nine years old when I first heard "The Number of the Beast." I believe this album is essential if you are delving deeper into heavy metal. Hearing this album definitely set me on the right path to doing what I do today."
Zack Simmons - Drums - Goatwhore
I remember as a kid going into a Virgin music store (when there were still record stores!) at the age of about 13 and just browsing through the "Metal" section. Being so young I didn't really know of all the great bands at the time and was just looking for what I thought might sound cool and sort of hoping to stumble upon a great record. Luckily my uncle, who lived with me during that time, had once suggested to check out a band called Iron Maiden. I had heard of them before but never their music. So I randomly chose just one record of theirs, that record being “The Number of The Beast.” And from there my perception on music and all things excellent for drumming changed for the better and Iron Maiden is still one of my favorite bands today.
Carlos Regalado – Drums - Bonded by Blood
Couldn’t tell you exactly where I was but most likely in the car and heard it on the radio. Ah the good ole days. I remember I couldn't wait ‘til they played it again and again but having gone to Catholic school early on I remember the feeling of guilt like "should I really be listening to this?" That song rocks to this day and it was a blast to be able to be a guest with the Iron Maiden one time in San Diego and sing that song. I had always wanted to do that. I would say that it influenced me in some of my writing. To not be afraid to create an atmosphere with lyrics
Veronica Freeman – Vocals - Benedictum
I was 11 years old when this came out in 1982 and in Catholic school (so go and figure my love for heavy metal.) Back then, I was way heavy in KISS, Black Sabbath and anything I could get my hands on at the time. Everything from the voice over on “The Number of the Beast” to the air raid shrills of Bruce's vocals on “Run to the Hills” - I was floored and became a huge fan of the band. Overall, this band and album, made a solid impression on my outlook of British Heavy Metal (like Sabbath hadn't already done that) at that time and I thought to myself – “I can't ever grow tired of it.” I have been "in the business" on both the musician side and on the business side for the better part of 20 years put together. Steve Harris was one of many influences as a player and musician. I have a had the honor of working for Iron Maiden for one record and also have done the marketing for the reissues of the Samson and Bruce Dickinson catalog on Sanctuary Records through a former company I worked for called Proper Distribution. I have also worked for record /retail stores in the past and present. In Dallas, Texas - I have worked for Hit Records, RPM Records , Warehouse Music and most currently Hot Topic.In these stores alone , I have sold quite a few copies of “The Number of the Beast,” either to older fans and the new ones just finding out about the greatness that is - IRON MAIDEN.
Jason Merito - Head First Entertainment
Angelo –Staff Writer - Bloody Good Horror
March 1982 marked my 9th birthday, and my Grandparents took me to Heck’s (Wow! Haven’t thought of that place in forever,) where I purchased the cassette of “The Number of the Beast.” Later, I would sit alone in my room and listen to it repeatedly that evening – all I can saw about first impressions on this one is ‘…Paul Di’Who?...’ I play a great deal of single note rhythms as a result of the influence this album had on me and I still can’t see the numbers 666 with raising my horns and reciting “….6 66, the number of the beast!”
Shane Day – Guitar - Zeroking
The first time I heard “The Number of the Beast” I was in school - I used to wear a Walkman under my long hair and a friend of mine made me a cassette and said “check this out” - it was so raw and powerful I couldn't stop listening to it! It's a little progressive, technical for what I do musically, but there will always be a place in my heart for Maiden!
Vegas Nacy – Vocals – Selfish Needy Creatures
Tune in tomorrow for Day 2, including some incredible anecdotes that have to be seen to be believed!