The Number of the Beast (4:52)

Cover of The Number of the Beast

From The Number of the Beast and 53 other releases

“The Number of the Beast” is Iron Maiden’s seventh single and the second single from Iron Maiden’s 1982 album of the same name. The song is inspired by both a nightmare bandleader and bassist Steve Harris had after watching the movie Damien: Omen II, and the storyline of the poem Tam o’ Shanter. “The Number of The Beast” is one of Iron Maiden’s greatest hits, and is almost always performed during concert. It reached 18 in the UK charts. The track is known for its very long, high-pitched and guttural wail by Bruce Dickinson at the end of the intro. In the documentary on the album of the same name, as part of the Classic Albums series by the BBC, Dickinson said this was due to producer Martin Birch forcing Dickinson to sing the first four lines for several hours, over and over again. The frustration of this culminated in this wail, the pitch of which Dickinson has not managed to re-create live since the early days, which may possibly be an influence to the using of the death growl singing technique of later death metal and groove metal vocalists.

The band had asked the famous horror films actor Vincent Price to read the intro text. However, according to Dickinson, Price refused to do it for anything less than £25,000. They had heard of someone who read ghost stories at Capital Radio and got him to do it. The man was a theatre actor named Barry Clayton who had no interest in Maiden, but they asked him to put on a Vincent Price kind of voice.


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