The band’s name comes from a torture device of the same name. Well-known fact.
Yes, but there is actually more to it. The artwork of the very first album, Iron Maiden (1980), features several depictions of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher accompanied by the line “Maiden Meet Maggie”. One of the first band photos even features a very quiet and unlively sixth band member: the wax figurine of Thatcher. On one depiction Eddie has just killed her, whereas on another she is about to kill him. (Yes, pretty rough stuff going on here).
The reason for this interference is as clear-cut as it is simple; Thatcher has been given the nickname “Iron Lady”. That is not very creative or funny, in my opinion, whereas the only slightly different “Iron Maiden”, being a torture device, and a nasty one, totally is. Going back to the attempted murder on Eddie, we see that the letters “Iron Maiden” are placed directly above the head of the sketched Thatcher as if the name was the description of the person below. On the other picture, the body of Thatcher is covered by a Maiden flag which is folded in a way that only “Iron” remains visible, implying that it might just as well say “Iron Lady”.
So, tell me about coincidence. I mean, this can be a hen – egg problem, of course. Does Thatcher appear on the covers because her nickname bears semblance to the band’s name or was the band indeed christened after a variant of her nickname? I actually believe in the latter. Thatcher officially accepted her nickname in a speech in 1976, which implies that it had been around before. And, why would you want someone to seemingly “photo-bomb” one of your first band photos if this reference was a coincidence? Considering that Maiden frequently comment upon everything British, it would be more than befitting that their band’s name is nothing less than a satirical comment upon the former Prime Minister.
- Booklet of Iron Maiden, Iron Maiden, EMI, 1980.