The Number of the Beast
The Number of the Beast also cemented Iron Maiden as one of "the biggest metal bands on the planet".
Of all the songs in the album, "The Number of the Beast", "Run to the Hills" and "Hallowed Be Thy Name" remain on the set lists of nearly all of the band's concert tours, with the latter two often used to close a show. All three songs have been released as singles in various forms.
The Beast on the Road was the tour supporting the album.
The Number of the Beast marked Bruce Dickinson's debut with the band. Though the recording process was successful, it was plagued with bizarre events - during the making of the album, record producer Martin Birch had been in an accident and crashed his car into one driven by a "religious nutter" on a rainy Sunday evening. When he got his car back from the mechanic the bill came back in the exact amount of £666.66. Birch, "terrified", demanded the bill be rounded up to £667. Also, the title track reached number 18 in the UK charts - the sum of three sixes. Other stories about various strange occurrences at the recording studio have circulated, such as equipment randomly breaking down and lights turning off and on by themselves.
Since this album (and its tour, Beast on the Road), "The Beast" has become something of a nickname for the band and possibly Eddie, as suggested by albums such as Best of the Beast (which featured a 'best of Eddie' mural on the cover), Beast over Hammersmith, and the DVD Visions of the Beast.
This album is the only one to feature songwriting by drummer Clive Burr. This is one of several reasons why the album was so different from previous ones other than the obvious change in lead singer. It was the first album with writing by Adrian Smith (see below track listing for details), and the first to feature writing by the 'new' Steve Harris (his older style had been written for different musicians, and in a different time) - the entire writing system was different. However, it is one of the few albums not to feature a Dave Murray song, and the first album not to feature an instrumental.
It was widely panned by mainstream media upon its release, including Rolling Stone, who claimed that it "blusters along aimlessly, proving again that bad music is hell."
It was also panned by social conservatives, especially in America. Due to its title, Iron Maiden was called a "Satanic band" in the US. Their Beast on the Road tour was marred by boycotts and protests.
However, as time passed by, The Number of the Beast became one of the most critically acclaimed metal albums of all time, and was more accepted after the band became more mainstream.
Allmusic said: "The Number of the Beast is quite simply one of the best heavy metal albums ever released."
The album was ranked number 17 on Guitar World's list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Albums of All Time. In 2000 Q magazine placed the album at number 100 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever, and a year later the same magazine named it as one of the 50 Heaviest Albums Of All Time. The BBC made a documentary of this album in their Classic Albums series.
IGN named it the third greatest heavy metal album of all time.
Metal-Rules.com named this the second greatest heavy metal album of all time.
The album is also a part of EMI's "Albums That Shaped Rock History" series.
The album was also the centre of controversy, particularly in America, due to the lyrics of the title track and the cover art depicting Satan being controlled by Eddie. This cover art was originally intended for an earlier single, "Purgatory", but the band felt the cover was too high of caliber for just a single and a less complex image was used for the single instead. The title track, "Number of the Beast", was said not be a satanic song was actually instead inspired by bass player Steve Harris's nightmares about dabbling in Satanism. The album's cover art has been parodied several times - by crossover thrash band Stormtroopers of Death for the cover art of their 1999 album Bigger Than the Devil, and on a T-shirt by underground New York Hip Hop Label Uncle Howie Records *Streetwear brand Diamond Supply Co. parodied the album cover for a shirt in their line. Nick Tershay, founder of Diamond is reported as having had to pay $50,000 due to the parody being too close to the original art work.
The original 1982 artwork includes a light blue sky in the background; this was a mistake by the printers of the album cover, and was later rectified and became black when the album was remastered for compact disc in 1998.
While the title track was thought by many to be an assumption Iron Maiden were Satanists, in fact the song was inspired by a nightmare bassist Steve Harris had, triggered by watching the film Damien: Omen II late at night. While he was quite scared of the Satanic images he saw in his nightmare, he also felt them amusing, and after that, he obtained the idea for the song, and also for the title of the album.
"Children of the Damned" is based on the films Village of the Damned and Children of the Damned, which in turn were adapted from the novel The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham. On a recent "Bruce Dickinson Rock Show" on BBC Radio 6, Dickinson told Ronnie James Dio that Children of the Damned was inspired by "Children of the Sea".
"The Prisoner" was inspired by the British TV show of the same name, and features dialogue from its title sequence. Rod Smallwood had to telephone Patrick McGoohan to ask permission to use the dialogue for the song. According to witnesses the usually calm Smallwood was completely star struck during the conversation. McGoohan was reported to have said "What did you say the name was? Iron Maiden? Do it." Iron Maiden later made another song based on the series, "Back in the Village" from Powerslave.
"22 Acacia Avenue" is the second song in the "Charlotte the Harlot" saga.
The title track opens with a spoken introduction which draws heavily from the King James Version of Revelation 13:18, and is apparently inspired by Tam o' Shanter by Robert Burns. Barry Clayton is the name of the actor who speaks those opening lines on the album.
The cover for DVD, Classic Albums: The Number of the Beast.The making of the album was released as a video on December 4, 2001 through Eagle Visions, as part of the documentary series, Classic Albums.
The video was directed by Tim Kirkby and featured cuts from the title track, "Children of the Damned", "Run to the Hills", and "The Prisoner". In addition, extended interviews and live footage of "Hallowed Be Thy Name" —recorded during the band's performance at the Rock in Rio festval in 2001— were included.
The video reached number 9 on the Norwegian DVD Charts, and was certifed Gold by the Australian Recording Industry Association.
It was released in DVD, VHS and UMD formats, and featured subtitles in six different languages, Dutch, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and French.
Appearance in media
On October 24, 2002, progressive metal outfit Dream Theater played the original album in its entirety at La Mutualite in Paris, France. The performance was recorded and has been released through the band's YtseJam Records label.
"Run To The Hills" was covered on the all-star tribute album Numbers From The Beast, featuring vocalist Robin McAuley, guitarists Michael Schenker and Pete Fletcher, bassist Tony Franklin, and drummer Brian Tichy. The version slightly varied from the original, in terms of guitars, when Schenker added small solos.
"Hallowed Be Thy Name" was covered by Machine Head on the Maiden Heaven: A Tribute To Iron Maiden tribute album released by Kerrang! magazine in 2008.
The album has also been used in several video games - "Run To The Hills" is featured on SSX On Tour as the opening theme, and a cover version is a track in Rock Band in which it is the only song on the disk listed as an 'Impossible' song for all the instruments. "The Number Of The Beast" is included as a master track in Guitar Hero III: Legends Of Rock while a cover version is downloadable for Rock Band. Incidentally, both Guitar Hero III and Rock Band spoofed "22 Acacia Avenue"; in Guitar Hero III: Legends Of Rock, the first venue is 22 Arcadia Avenue and Rock Band features a venue located at 22 Acadia Avenue.
Original track listing
# Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Invaders" Steve Harris 3:24
2. "Children of the Damned" Harris 4:35
3. "The Prisoner" Adrian Smith, Harris 6:03
4. "22 Acacia Avenue" Smith, Harris 6:36
5. "The Number of the Beast" Harris 4:50
6. "Run to the Hills" Harris 3:54
7. "Gangland" Smith, Clive Burr 3:49
8. "Hallowed Be Thy Name" Harris 7:11
1995 reissue bonus disc
# Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Total Eclipse" Dave Murray, Harris, Burr 4:25
2. "Remember Tomorrow (live)" Di'Anno, Harris 5:29
The album was reissued in 1995 with bonus material, including the songs "Total Eclipse", which was not included on the original release, and a live version of "Remember Tomorrow", recorded in Italy on October 1981, during Dickinson's first performances with the band.
Bruce Dickinson – lead vocals
Dave Murray – guitar
Adrian Smith – guitar, backing vocals
Steve Harris – bass, backing vocals
Clive Burr – drums
Martin Birch – producer, engineer
Rod Smallwood – manager
Derek Riggs – illustration
Ross Halfin – photography
Denis O'Regan – photography
The Number of the Beast was released on March 29, 1982, and quickly became a commercial success around the world. It was the band's first effort to top the UK charts, and enter the Billboard 200—at number 150. The album reached the top 10 in Austria and Sweden, and hit number 11 and 13 in Canada and Norway respectively. It was awarded platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), and received a gold certification by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on October 4, 1983. Although the album failed to chart in Germany, it was certified gold ten years later, and received a 3× platinum award in Canada for sells exceeding 300,000 units. Two songs were released as singles, "Run to the Hills" and the title track, which debuted in the United Kingdom at number 7—their highest chart position at the time— and number 18 respectively. Both songs entered the singles chart in Ireland in the same order —at number 16 and 19.
Country Chart (1982) Position Certification
Austria Ö3 Austria Top 40 3
Canada Canadian Albums Chart 11 3× Platinum
Germany Media Control Charts — Gold
Norway VG-lista 13
Sweden Sverigetopplistan 7
United Kingdom UK Albums Chart 1 Platinum
United States Billboard 200 150 Platinum
Single Chart (1982) Position
"Run to the Hills" UK Singles Chart 7
Irish Singles Chart 16
"The Number of the Beast" UK Singles Chart 18
Irish Singles Chart 19
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