IRON MAIDEN STILL RUNNING FREE FORTY YEARS AFTER FIRST TOP OF THE POPS APPEARANCE
21 February 2020
‘Top Of The Pops’ was everybody’s favourite TV show back in the early 80s, the Thursday early evening half hour weekly showcasing an eclectic mix of then-current hits and Top 40 hopefuls of the day. Any kind of ‘commercial’ success was pretty much dependant upon an appearance on ‘TOTP’ in this pre-internet era. All the acts appearing on the show mimed to their records.
However, away from the purile pop and cheese that infested the charts, something was stirring and on Thursday 21st February 1980, a ‘new’ band appeared on ‘Top Of The Pops’ for the very first time, tearing the musical landscape to pieces and leaving it forever Metal.
Iron Maiden were formed in London’s East End five years earlier and with punk in it’s death throes by this time and mod music on the rise, were already making a big impact on the ‘underground’ scene and it was forty years ago this very day that they burst forth into the public conscience.
The first ever release was the now highly sought after ‘The Soundhouse Tapes’, a three-track demo EP that led to a record deal with EMI and in early Feburary the first EMI release, the single ‘Running Free’, entered the UK Singles Chart at number 46. ‘Coward Of The County’ by Kenny Rogers was number one, replaced the following week by Blondie’s ‘Atomic’ while one chart position either side of Maiden were ‘Worzel’s Song’ by Jon Pertwee and ‘Three Minute Hero’ by Selecter, which is akin to a sandwich of the finest cut of prime roast beef in-between two slices of mouldy bread.
Then the BBC’s flagship music show came calling, however there was an instant problem as Maiden simply refused to mime. Manager Rod Smallwood recalled:
“We had previously told our label EMI that we would never do ‘TOTP’ unless we did it live. After all, we were a Metal band, not a pop outfit. ‘Running Free’ came out and we were asked on. Well, nobody since The Who in 1974 had done it live, but we stuck in and said, ‘no live, no Maiden.'”
When Maiden unbelievably got their way it was a massive statement of intent. Here was a band that were true as steel and when Peter Powell introduced them on the show they were simply electric (Matthew), absolutely captivating with a really special energy about them. Everything about this band spoke from another level.
Three days after ‘Runnning Free’ was aired on ‘Top Of The Pops’, it rose to number 34 in the charts and held its own in the Top 40 for a second week. The single cover featured the very first image of Eddie, bathed in shadows, before he was revealed in all his glory just over a month later that when Maiden’s debut album came out and eneterd the UK Album Chart at number four, setting Maiden on the way to phenomenal global success which remains to this day.
Those of us who experienced Maiden’s debut UK TV performance will never, ever forget it and there’s one last chance to experience the flavour of those heady days when IDES OF MARCH, fronted by PAUL DI’ANNO and including four former Iron Maiden members, will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the release of the debut album in a headline BEERMAGEDDON FESTIVAL performance in Bromsgrove, England on Sunday 30th August 2020.
IDES OF MARCH has been specially formed for this totally unique occasion and will be vocalist PAUL DI’ANNO’s final ever live performance. After experiencing serious health difficulties in recent months, Paul has now taken the advice of his doctors and will retire from the live stage after the IDES OF MARCH performance at BEERMAGEDDON. It is going to take one mighty effort for Paul to pull off this performance but he is determined to go out in style and give his fans one memorable final thank you and goodbye.
Paul said: “It’s been a tough four years waiting to play again. I hope to be standing for this show and I’m really looking forward to it. Standing up would be great – if not, Hell on wheels coming to ya!”
The band line-up is:
Paul Di’Anno – Vocals (ex-Iron Maiden)
Terry Wapram – Guitar (ex-Iron Maiden)
Terry Rance – Guitar (ex-Iron Maiden)
Doug Sampson – Drums (ex-Iron Maiden)
Speed Harris – Bass (Hi-On Maiden)
Commemorative IDES OF MARCH t-shirts are available for pre-order now and will be despatched on 1st March. All Sizes available here.