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The Number of the Beast (song)

“The Number of the Beast” Singleby Iron Maiden
from the album The Number of the BeastReleased April 26 1982 Format vinyl record(7") (12") Recorded 1982GenreHeavy metalLength 4:49 LabelEMIWriter(s)Steve HarrisIron Maidensingles chronology "Run to the Hills"
(1982) "The Number of the Beast"
(1982) "Flight of Icarus"

(2003) "The Number of the Beast" (live)
(2005) "The Trooper" (live)

"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 scream 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 Bruce to sing the first four lines for several hours, over and over again. The frustration of this culminated in this scream, 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 Bruce, Price refused to do it for anything less than £25,000. They had heard of someone who read ghost stories at the Capitol radio station 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.



The song is about a man who is wandering alone and happens upon a portion of Hell on Earth, with people performing Satanic rituals and sacrifices. At first, he is disgusted and decides to report it to law enforcement, but eventually becomes entranced by the ordeal and decides to join in.


The single's cover is the last of three singles to feature Riggs' depiction of Satan, which debuted on the cover of the Purgatory single. The cover of The Number of the Beast is the aftermath to the cover of the Run to the Hills single where Eddie and Satan are depicted in battle.

The original B-side "Remember Tomorrow (Live)" was repeatedly claimed by the band to have been recorded back in 1981 in Milan, Italy during Bruce's warm-up gigs. However, this was found to be untrue when fans discovered it to be the same recording from "Remember Tomorrow" as recorded live by the band with Paul Di'Anno for the live EP, Maiden Japan, with Bruce Dickinson's vocals overdubbed onto the track.

Music video

The original music video featured the band performing the song, interspersed with clips from various horror films including Godzilla. The Crimson Ghost - used as a logo by The Misfits - also appears early in the video, and there is another reference to The Misfits later in the video, when the monster from The Angry Red Planet appears (The Misfits used the monster on the cover of their album Walk Among Us). In the middle of the guitar solo, a dancing couple wearing cards marked "6" on their costumes appear on stage. As the male dancer spins his female partner around, her face turns into a wolf-like appearance before they dance out of the stage. Eddie also makes an appearance towards the end of the video. A later video (available on the Visions of the Beast DVD), animated by Camp Chaos, replaced the film clips and the dancing couple with Flash animation of Bruce (acting as a priest) and Eddie re-enacting scenes from The Exorcist.


The song made it in at #7 on VH1's 40 Greatest Metal Songs[1]. The song made it in at #1 on VH1's 20 Greatest Metal Songs in 2008.

"The Number of the Beast" was ranked #6 in Martin Popoff's book "The Top 500 Heavy Metal Songs Of All Time". Popoff put together this book by requesting thousands of metal fans, musicians, and journalists to send in their favourite heavy metal songs. Almost 18,000 individual votes were tallied and entered into a database from which the final rankings were derived. [2].

In January 2005, a new and updated version was released. It features live video renditions of "Number of the Beast" and "Hallowed Be Thy Name" that have never been officially released before.

It has since been covered by Iced Earth, Saints in Hell, Avulsed, Breed 77, Sinergy, Powderfinger, Zwan (whose version was used for the soundtrack of the cult film Spun), The Iron Maidens and many other bands. The song is also featured on The String Quartet Tribute to Iron Maiden.

This song was featured on the video game Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 and is playable in Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock as a master track. It is also available in Rock Band as a downloadable song, albeit a cover version.


The song, being the title number for the 1982 album was a prominent target of critics during a time when Maiden were accused of being a Satanic group. Much of the controversy is believed to have originated due to the prominence of the number 666 in the song's repeating chorus.

Maiden took a swing at their critics in the follow-up album Piece of Mind which features a backmasked message in the beginning of the song Still Life which, when played backwards translates as a very drunk Nicko McBrain doing an impression of Idi Amin Dada (stating "What ho said the t'ing with the three "bonce", do not meddle with things you don't understand"), followed by a belch.

Before being Iron Maiden's drummer, McBrain was the Devil on the Number of the Beast videoclip. When the music video was first shown on MTV, Eddie's appearance at the end was edited out after complaints from frightened viewers.[citation needed]

Track listing

  1. "The Number of the Beast"
  2. "Remember Tomorrow ('Live' Vocal Overdub)"

2005 track listing

  1. "The Number of the Beast" (original 1982 studio version) (Steve Harris)
  2. "The Number of the Beast" (live 2002) (Steve Harris)
  3. "Hallowed Be Thy Name" (live 2002) (Steve Harris)
  4. VIDEO - "The Number of the Beast" (original 1982 studio version) (Steve Harris)
  5. VIDEO - "The Number of the Beast" (live 2002) (Steve Harris)



  1. ^ "VH1 40 Greatest Metal Songs", 1-4 May 2006, VH1 Channel, reported by; last accessed 2006-09-10.
  2. ^ "The Top 500 Heavy Metal Songs Of All Time"[1].
v • d • eIron Maiden' singles discographyThe First Ten Years
Compiled singles 1980: "Running Free" · "Sanctuary" · "Women in Uniform" · 1981: "Twilight Zone" · "Purgatory" · 1982: "Run to the Hills" · "Number of the Beast" · 1983: "Flight of Icarus" · "The Trooper" · 1984: "2 Minutes to Midnight" · "Aces High" · 1985: "Running Free (live)" · "Run to the Hills (live '85)" · 1986: "Wasted Years" · "Stranger in a Strange Land" · 1988: "Can I Play with Madness" · "The Evil That Men Do" · "The Clairvoyant" · 1989: "Infinite Dreams" · 1989-present
Not compiled singles 1990: "Holy Smoke" · "Bring Your Daughter... to the Slaughter" · 1992: "Be Quick or Be Dead" · "From Here to Eternity" · "Wasting Love" · 1993: "Fear of the Dark (live)" · "Hallowed Be Thy Name (live)" · 1995: "Man on the Edge" · 1996: "Lord of the Flies" · "Virus" · 1998: "The Angel and the Gambler" · "Futureal" · 2000: "The Wicker Man" · "Out of the Silent Planet" · 2002: "Run to the Hills (live '01)" ·
2003: "Wildest Dreams" · "Rainmaker" · 2005: "The Number of the Beast (live)" · 2006: "The Trooper (live)" · "The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg" · "Different World" v • d • eIron MaidenBruce Dickinson · Dave Murray · Adrian Smith · Janick Gers · Steve Harris · Nicko McBrain
Paul Di'Anno · Blaze Bayley · Dennis Stratton · Clive Burr
See: List of Iron Maiden band membersfor detailed band member history Studio albums Iron Maiden · Killers · The Number of the Beast · Piece of Mind · Powerslave · Somewhere in Time · Seventh Son of a Seventh Son · No Prayer for the Dying · Fear of the Dark · The X Factor · Virtual XI · Brave New World · Dance of Death · A Matter of Life and DeathLive albums Live After Death · A Real Live One · A Real Dead One · Live at Donington · A Real Live Dead One · Rock in Rio · The BBC Archives · Beast over Hammersmith · Death on the RoadEPs The Soundhouse Tapes · Live!! +one · Maiden Japan · No More LiesCompilations The First Ten Years · Best of the Beast · Ed Hunter · Edward the Great · Eddie's Archive · Best of the B'Sides · The Essential Iron Maiden · Somewhere Back in Time - The Best of: 1980-1989Videos Live at the Rainbow · Video Pieces · Behind the Iron Curtain · Live After Death · 12 Wasted Years · Maiden England · The First Ten Years: The Videos · From There to Eternity · Donington Live 1992 · Raising Hell · Classic Albums: The Number of the Beast · Rock in Rio · Visions of the Beast · The Early Days · Death on the RoadTours Metal For Muthas Tour and Europe 80 · Killers World Tour · The Beast On The Road · World Piece Tour · World Slavery Tour · Somewhere On Tour · Seventh Tour of a Seventh Tour · No Prayer On The Road · Fear Of The Dark Tour · Real Live Tour · The X Factour · Virtual XI World Tour · The Ed Hunter Tour · Brave New World Tour · Give Me Ed... 'til I'm Dead Tour & Dance Of Death World Tour · Eddie Rips Up The World Tour · A Matter Of Life And Death Tour · Somewhere Back In Time World TourRelated Articles Members · Discography · Tour history · Singles (template) · Eddie · Rod Smallwood · Andy Taylor · Michael Kenney · Kevin Shirley ·
Martin Birch · Ross Halfin · Derek Riggs · Melvyn Grant · Sanctuary RecordsBands Bruce Dickinson · Blaze · ASAP · Wolfsbane · Paul Di'Anno · Urchin · The Untouchables · Psycho Motel · Lauren Harris · Samson ·
Trust · The Entire Population of Hackney Categories: Iron Maiden songs | 1982 singles | Heavy metal songs | 1982 songsHidden categories: Single articles with infobox field chart position | All articles with unsourced statements | Articles with unsourced statements since February 2008

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