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Derek Riggs, the man behind Iron Maiden album covers

Portadas Iron Maiden

We know the story behind the Iron Maiden covers created by Derek Riggs, as well as Eddie’s story.

In the world of rock and metal the symbolism is very present. The Rolling Stones are identified by their iconic tongue, AC / DC by the lightning bolt that splits their logo and Iron Maiden have “Eddie”. They are not just widely known emblems of a music group, they are milestones in graphic design. And part of the blame that the greatest heavy metal band of all time have been sweeping wherever they go for more than 40 years.

But, how have the British metal group managed to connect with new generations and, in turn, put up with longer-lived fans? Part of the blame is his pet, the star of the Iron Maiden album covers. We are going to know the history of the creation of “Eddie” and how he has become a pop icon.

Rock is a classic genre and many of the great groups have been projected in time as theme parks. When shows started to become top-notch social experiences and shows, there were the Rolling Stones, AC / DC or Iron Maiden. The scenography was as or more important than the music in a time where stadiums were filled wherever they passed. Iron Maiden focused his graphic hook on fantasy and for this he created a character with the appearance of a zombie and a mummy. Your name? Eddie. The mascot of the band that is loved by fans as a member of the group.

Who is Derek Riggs?

Derek Riggs | Eddie

“Eddie” was created by Derek Riggs, a British artist from Portsmouth, England born in 1958. Derek was a self-taught cartoonist since childhood. Like many children he was in love with the comics and drawings of Jack Kirby, father of X-Men, Thor, Hulk, Iron Man and Doctor Doom. He also liked horror movies and literature from the 60s and 70s.

His style was far from the canons of the time and he decided to study Fine Arts at the University, a place that he left shortly after feeling misunderstood. In his search for a style of his own to represent rock, he began experimenting with a number of designs while freelancing doing covers for London record companies. In one of them he created a character called “Electric Matthew” who was inspired by the punks Derek saw on the street, with torn clothing and unkempt features. The final look exaggerated all those features to make him a wrinkled, angry monster with a torn shirt.

Eddie as a new member of the band

Derek Riggs | Eddie

This piece caught the attention of manager Rod Smallwood, who was looking for a suitable image for a fledgling heavy metal band called Iron Maiden: “Eddie was born from the fact that the members of the band were very shy, so we had to invent a creature that stand up for them. I saw Derek’s work and little by little we made Eddie a cover character. We wanted him to be enigmatic. He has different shapes and sizes, he can be ethereal, wild; always fun and always on our side. “

The band signed an exclusive contract with Derek Riggs and adopted the character with minor modifications. They added more hair to make him look less punk and renamed him “Eddie.” The illustration was added to the cover of the Iron Maiden album released in 1980.

El éxito de Iron Maiden y Eddie

Iron Maiden - Killers (1981)

A year later, “Killers” would arrive, the last album with frontman Paul Di’Anno and in 1982 “The Number Of The Beast” came out. This was the first album with Bruce Dickinson as vocalist and the one that catapulted them to fame as the flagship of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal; and “Eddie” as the definitive symbol of the band.

From then on, the covers of Iron Maiden were gaining popularity as the group expanded its legend. The covers of “Purgatory”, “Powerslave”, “Somewhere in Time”, “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” or “No Prayer for the Dying” were a resounding success, creating mechandising of Eddie as T-shirts. The artworks created by Derek Riggs received criticism and even censorship in the United States from the religious sector who even protested outside the shows during the North American tours.

But little by little, the creative tensions between the artist and the band grew. The cover of “Fear Of The Dark” (1992) symbolizes the break between the band’s bond with the illustrator, whose ideas were rejected as they wanted to update Eddie from the 80s comic style to a more realistic horror.

La ruptura de Dereck y la banda

Iron Maiden - Fear of the Dark (1992)

Derek Riggs was always jealous of the originality of his art, and there began the tensions that led him to distance himself from the band. He was annoyed that the ideas put forward by the band’s musicians were “stolen” from popular movies or books. The illustrator spent long hours sketching dozens of original concepts that were discarded while they proposed ideas that he detested.

After more than 10 years creating pieces with “Eddie”, added to health problems caused by exposure to heavy metals in oil paints, he decided to dedicate himself to digital art and explore other horizons. Riggs owns the rights to Eddie so he was able to continue selling his works to fans.

In 2014, a fan club organized a signature drive to ask Iron Maiden to rehire Derek Riggs – 3,000 applications were collected. Bruce Dickinson, the group’s legendary singer, called him in to design the cover for his solo album “Accident of birth” from 1997.

Iron Maiden as pop icon

During the 40 years the band has been in business, Eddie has featured on covers, posters, posters, and t-shirts. Iron Maiden is arguably almost on par with KISS when it comes to merchandising exploitation. According to Enrique Campos, stylist, creative and fashion expert: “T-shirts with the effigy of Eddie can be seen anywhere and on all kinds of people, even those who have never heard the music of Iron Maiden. Rock has connotations of being bad guy, living on the fringes. Concepts that a part of society likes to join from time to time, that’s why you see some posh girls with these t-shirts.”

Camisetas de Iron Maiden

Tito Lesende, a music journalist who was a huge fan of the band in his teens: “They have managed to manage their assets. The years have passed and they have endured with dignity, from punk London to seeing their shirts for sale in Inditex stores. Iron Maiden’s iconography has been pop culture for many years now. Even when the band rests, their image is everywhere. “

His speech is supported by a quick count of celebrities who have been seen at some point wearing clothes with his logo: Madonna, Maradona, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and many more. Derek Riggs’ art is recognizable by thousands around the world, and remains as relevant today as when it first came to light. We leave you with all the Iron Maiden covers published.

80-90 – Iron Maiden covers

90-2000 – Iron Maiden Covers

2000-2021 – Iron Maiden Covers

 

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