According to the unwritten laws of concert etiquette, it's generally unacceptable to wear a band's T-shirt to their performances. It just makes you look as if you're trying a tad too hard. A notable exception to this rule, however, is the legendary Iron Maiden, who just so happen to be taking over the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion on Saturday.
Why is that, you ask? Simply put, it's because Maiden has given its fans what is bar none the most righteous collection of band T-shirts in heavy-metal history over the past 30-plus years. A lot of the credit has to go to artist Derek Riggs, whose striking portraits of band mascot Eddie the Head have graced album covers, shirts, posters, tapestries and a million other things for you to buy.
As a result, Eddie has become an instantly recognizable icon the world over, while the actual members of Iron Maiden have remained comparatively anonymous.
If history is any indication, a dizzying panoply of Iron Maiden T-shirts are sure to be on display in the crowd on Saturday, and you'd better buy, borrow or steal one if you want to fit in. Since most of you still have trouble dressing yourselves, Rocks Off has done you the solid of picking out the 10 coolest Iron Maiden T-shirts from God knows how many in existence for your convenient perusal. We've even included shopping links to each of them.
Just be sure to choose the overnight shipping option when it comes time to check out. For the hour draws near...
10. Live after Death
Artwork: Combining elements of Eddie's appearance from Maiden's Number of the Beast, Powerslave and Piece of Mind album covers, this portrait by artist Derek Riggs features Eddie bursting forth from the grave to terrorize headbangers anew. His headstone borrows a quote from H.P. Lovecraft's Nameless City: "That is not dead which can eternal lie; yet with strange aeons even death may die."
What It Says About You: "I know all their greatest hits, bro. You know...from the '80s."
Artwork: Another piece by Riggs, the cover art for 1986's Somewhere In Time imagines Eddie as some sort of cyborg replicant stalking the streets of a futuristic London. Or something. That smoking gun pretty much eliminates any hope that the years have mellowed him out.
What It Says About You: "My high school years may or may not have been entirely wasted on heavy metal and science fiction."
Artwork: The Egyptian-themed art from 1984's Powerslave album casts Eddie as an immutable monument to evil flanked by Jackal-headed idols. Pretty bitchin,' right? The deeply mysterious messages "Bollockz" and "What a load of crap" are hidden in the pyramid's hieroglyphics.
What It Says About You: "I'm very much open to the possibility that aliens built the pyramids."
Artwork: 2000 was a big year for Iron Maiden, highlighted by the return of vocalist Bruce "The Air Raid Siren" Dickinson. "The Wicker Man" was the first single from the band's Brave New World album, and its cover art featured a version of Eddie by Mark Wilkinson inspired by the 1973 British cult classic of the same name. One can be forgiven, of course, for being reminded of Nic Cage's subtle performance in the 2006 remake.
What It Says About You: "I'm a big enough Maiden fan to appreciate the band's 21st century output, poseur."
6. The Original
Artwork: Riggs's cover art for Iron Maiden's 1980 debut album featured the first image of Eddie, depicted as some sort of punked-out, glue-sniffing zombie. Songwriter Steve Harris has repeatedly claimed over the years that the band hated everything about the punk movement of the day, which doesn't make a hell of a lot of sense given their early sound and image.
What It Says About You: "I've been listening to this shit since before you were born, son."
5. The Trooper
Artwork: The cover to Maiden's 1983 single about the Battle of Balaclava in 1854 features a lobotomized Eddie cutting his way through the trenches on behalf of the Redcoats as the Grim Reaper himself looks on in approval. We like it because it's one of the most colorful portraits that Derek Riggs ever created for the band.
What It Says About You: "I feel that the gruesome violence of war is best enjoyed at a distance of 150 years or so."
Artwork: Riggs's original cover art for Maiden's 1981 single "Purgatory" was deemed "too good" by the band. They kept it for their forthcoming album, Number of the Beast, instead. As a replacement, the artist delivered a striking portrait of the Devil's face rotting away to reveal Eddie's toothy, unsettling grin. It's the perfect tee to scare the shit out of your mom or youth pastor.
What It Says About You: "I've contemplated the very real possibility of winding up in hell, and I'm more or less cool with the prospect."
Artwork: Iron Maiden's debut single with Bruce Dickinson is one of heavy metal's all-time classics. Its release was a major milestone for the band, and Riggs's cover art definitely rose to the occasion. In a nod to the song's Native American theme, Eddie wields a tomahawk in battle against Satan himself deep in the bowels of hell.
What It Says About You: "Not even Lucifer is metal enough to hang with me."
Artwork: This sweet tee commemorating a string of 2008 shows in Mexico reimagines the cover art of Maiden's 1986 single "Stranger in a Strange Land." Cyborg Eddie's trenchcoat and fedora have been replaced by a serape y sombrero combo in homage to one of the band's most dedicated populations of fans.
If we have to explain the appeal of Eddie the Head in a sombrero to you, there's very little chance you'll be at tomorrow's concert.
What It Says About You: "Hasta los hierros, cabrón."
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Artwork: Pretty much the only thing better than Mexico is America. Texas, specifically. That's probably why we're biased toward this supersonic T-shirt featuring art taken from Maiden's 2008 Texas dates. Insatiable death-dealer Eddie pays tribute to the United States' world-renowned military-industrial complex by raining down hellfire from a fighter plane. Frankly, we're not sure whether to fear him or salute him.
What It Says About You: "Screeeaaaam for meeee, Houston!"