Iron Maiden were formed on Christmas Day in 1975 by bassist Steve Harris shortly after he left his previous group, Smiler. Harris attributes the band's name to a film adaptation of The Man in the Iron Mask from the novel by Alexandre Dumas, the title of which reminded him of the iron maiden torture device. After months of rehearsal, Iron Maiden made their debut at St. Nicks Hall in Poplar on 1 May 1976, before taking up a semi-residency at the Cart and Horses Pub in Maryland Point, Stratford.
The original line-up did not last very long, however, with vocalist Paul Day being the first casualty as, according to Harris, he lacked "energy or charisma on stage". He was replaced by Dennis Wilcock, a Kiss fan who used make-up and fake blood during live performances. Wilcock's friend Dave Murray was invited to join, to the dismay of the band's guitarists Dave Sullivan and Terry Rance. Their frustration led Harris to temporarily disband Iron Maiden in 1976, though the group reformed soon after with Murray as the sole guitarist.
Steve Harris and Dave Murray remain the band's longest-standing members and have performed on all of their releases. Their frustration led Harris to temporarily disband Iron Maiden in 1976, though the group reformed soon after with Murray as the sole guitarist. Steve Harris and Dave Murray remain the band's longest-standing members and have performed on all of their releases.
Iron Maiden recruited yet another guitarist in 1977, Bob Sawyer, who was sacked for embarrassing the band on stage by pretending to play guitar with his teeth. Tension ensued again, causing a rift between Murray and Wilcock, who convinced Harris to fire Murray, as well as original drummer Ron Matthews. A new line-up was put together, including future Cutting Crew member Tony Moore on keyboards, Terry Wapram on guitar, and drummer Barry Purkis (better known today as Thunderstick). A bad performance at the Bridgehouse, a pub located in Canning Town, in November 1977 was the line-up's first and only concert and led to Purkis being replaced by Doug Sampson. At the same time, Moore was asked to leave as Harris decided that keyboards did not suit the band's sound. A few months later, Dennis Wilcock decided that he had had enough with the group and left to form his own band, V1, and Dave Murray was immediately reinstated. As he preferred to be the band's sole guitarist, Wapram disapproved of Murray's return and was also dismissed.