In 1982, when the third studio album of the English heavy metal group Iron Maiden was released, nobody could have imagined that the cover, which was the subject of heated discussions at the time, would be featured on the back of a coin bearing the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II about one generation later. CIT set a numismatic monument to The Number of the Beast with a coin that shows that the provocation of 1982 is now part of popular culture. Eddie has become an integral part of it, so much that in 2015 people actually believed an April Fool’s joke about Eddie being the first fictional person to be knighted by the Queen. The coin was minted by B. H. Mayer’s Kunstprägeanstalt in Munich.
One side features the cover of the third studio album of the English heavy metal group Iron Maiden with the title “The Number of the Beast”.
The other side features the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by Ian Rank-Broadley (initials: IRB); around it the name of the ruler, the issuing nation and the denomination.
When it was released, The Number of the Beast provoked public burnings. Conservative activists protested in front of concert halls and claimed that the group would spread Satanic content. Stephen Harris, the founder and main songwriter of Iron Maiden, once complained that most opponents of The Number of the Beast did not even know the lyrics: “They just wanted to believe all that rubbish about us being Satanists”.
Of crucial importance to this misinterpretation was the cover depicting Eddie, the group’s mascot, also known as Eddie the Head. Eddie had been part of the Maiden’s stage shows since the late 1970s and was part of their image. Eddie not only adorns the group’s own Boeing 747, also known as Ed Force One, but every cover of Iron Maiden. For The Number of the Beast, the British artist Derek Riggs had Eddie pull the strings of a devil puppet, which in turn guided a small Eddie puppet. The artist told that a 1960s comic inspired him to create this artwork. Rod Smallwood, the manager of Iron Maiden, explained that the original concept of the cover was to question who was actually responsible for evil.
Despite or because of these controversies, the album turned out to be an enormous commercial success. It was Iron Maiden’s first number one hit in the British charts. Moreover, The Number of the Beast is considered today one of the most important albums in the history of heavy metal.
Further information about the coin on the CIT website.
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If you want to experience all three dimensions of Iron Maiden – The Number of the Beast, you have to watch this film:
In this documentary you can view the history of Iron Maiden: