On 14 April 1980, Iron Maiden released their self-titled debut album. It was an album that marked the start of a career that would go on to change – and in some ways define – the very firmament of what we call heavy metal. Since it’s now 14 April 2012, we’re going to use this handy-if-irrelevant anniversary as an excuse to go back and watch the band playing a single from the album on the now-departed BBC institution that was Top Of The Pops.
For all you foreigners and young ‘uns out there who have no idea what Top Of The Pops was, it was the flagship music programme on British television from 1964 to 2006. Iron Maiden’s performance of ‘Running Free’ on the show in 1980 was special for three reasons – 1) it was the only time the band performed on Top Of The Pops with Paul Di’Anno as frontman, 2) it was the first time since The Who in 1972 that a band had performed live on the show, rather than miming along to a pre-recorded backing tape, and 3) just look how awkward and confused the teenagers trying to dance look. HA!
While Top Of The Tops would carry on for another 26 years after Iron Maiden’s performance, it would nevertheless be outlasted by the beast that is Iron Maiden. In fact, if the Irons keep going until at least 2017 (fingers crossed), they’ll have lasted longer than TOTP ever did. Which is a damn impressive feat, if you ask us. Obviously what’s slightly less impressive is what’s happened to Paul Di’Anno since this TOTP performance. Not only was his tenure as frontman for the band short-lived (and indeed, has cast a shadow over all of his subsequent solo work), but last year Di’Anno ended up spending two months in jail after being found guilty of benefit fraud totalling around £45,000. What a numpty.