Between 1980, when Iron Maiden released their self-titled debut, and the end of the European leg of the 2018 Legacy of the Beast tour, the band has played 2,174 concerts, according to its website. While bassist Steve Harris and guitarist Dave Murray been ever-present in the lineup throughout that time, they’ve had two drummers, three singers and three other guitarists. As they prepare to bring that career-spanning tour to North America in 2019, we take a look at which musicians have performed the most shows on vocals, guitar and drums.
Formed in 1975, Iron Maiden originally included Paul Day as their singer, though he was soon replaced by Dennis Wilcock, who left in 1978. Paul Di’Anno then got the job, appearing on the band’s first two albums, Iron Maiden and Killers. But after a Sept. 10, 1981, concert in Copenhagen, Di’Anno was fired — with creative differences to the singer’s hard-partying lifestyle cited as reasons. He was replaced after 269 shows by Bruce Dickinson, who made his debut six weeks later in Bologna, Italy.
With their new frontman, Iron Maiden went from just another New Wave of British Heavy Metal band to arena-filling superstars. But Dickinson went solo in 1990 with Tattooed Millionaire, pursuing creative impulses outside of the band. In 1993, he did one last tour with the group that culminated in a filmed-for-TV concert on Aug. 28 that concluded with the singer being “killed” by magician Simon Drake in an actual iron maiden.
The band continued with Blaze Bayley, whose band, Wolfsbane, had opened for Iron Maiden in 1990. The two records they made together, The X Factor and Virtual XI, were met with diminishing returns, and Bayley was fired at the conclusion of their 1998 tour and his 217th concert. Dickinson, whose solo career had also failed to take off, reclaimed his spot in 1999. To date, he’s fronted the band for 1,688 performances.
Dave Murray was brought on by Dennis Wilcock in late 1976 but was fired six months later after the two clashed. After Wilcock left in 1978, Murray was rehired and has remained over the next four decades, with 2,174 shows to his name. Looking for a second guitarist after Iron Maiden were signed by EMI in 1979, Murray tried to get his childhood friend Adrian Smith, who was then committed to his own band, Urchin. So they hired Dennis Stratton, who appeared on the band’s debut LP. But as they toured the album, “creative differences” — Stratton would later say that it was because he liked the Eagles — led to his dismissal after an Oct. 13, 1980, gig in Drammen, Norway, his 140th performance. By this point, Urchin had broken up so Smith joined Iron Maiden, making his debut with them on Nov. 8 in Munich.
By the time they prepared to record 1990’s No Prayer for the Dying, Smith was dissatisfied with the band’s direction and quit. He was replaced by Janick Gers, who had worked with singer Bruce Dickinson on his solo album Tattooed Millionaire. He remained with Iron Maiden after Dickinson left. Smith eventually returned at the same time as Dickinson in 1999, but Gers also kept his job, giving the band a three-guitar attack ever since 2000’s Brave New World. As of 2018, Smith has played 1,596 shows; Gers has performed 1,141. They’ve shared a stage 703 times.
Recommended by guitarist Dennis Stratton, Clive Burr became Iron Maiden’s drummer in 1979, replacing Doug Sampson. But as they toured behind 1982’s The Number of the Beast, Burr took some time away from the band following the death of his father. His role was filled by Nicko McBrain, whose band Trust opened for Maiden a year earlier. He even drummed wearing an Eddie mask on European television when Burr couldn’t make it. Burr finished out the tour, but the band decided to make the change permanent shortly afterward. The exact number of dates Burr missed appears to be lost to history, but Iron Maiden played 448 gigs before his dismissal. They’ve sperformed 1,726 shows with McBrain as an official member.