Iron Maiden. It's no contest for me.
When Steve Harris left his previous band, the reason was that his bandmates did not appreciate a "charismatic" bassist. They wanted a bassist to be a supporting member of the band, to help the flow of the music, but not actually be a key point of it. They also felt that the songs that he was writing were too complex and hard to play (he was several years younger than them, only 16 at the time). His trademark bass sound has been often duplicated in future bands.
Harris's prominent bass sound
Thus, he started his own band, recruiting several musicians, one of which was Dave Murray, who is still a member of the band today (34 years after initial conception). While the band went through many line-up changes, they settled on Adrian Smith for their second lead guitarist in 1980. Smith and Murray together are not the most skilled or technical guitarists in the world, but together, they have amazing chemistry and compliment each other's styles to near perfection.
Murray and Smith dual lead guitar
When their former vocalist, Paul Di'anno was fired from the band in 1981, due to allegations of drug and alcohol abuse, former Samson vocalist Bruce Dickinson would take his place. Dickinson's extremely powerful vocals, reminiscent of the legendary Metal God Rob Halford from fellow NWOBHM act Judas Priest, skyrocketed their new album, Number of the Beast in 1982, to commercial and critical success and introduced them into the mainstream.
Dickinson's legendary vocal power, control, and tone
During their 1982 tour to promote the album, drummer Clive Burr came under unfortunate schedule conflicts with touring and had no option but to leave the band. His fast-paced drumming technique, which had complimented Harri's bass riffs greatly, had been up to that point an important staple in the band's sound. Burr would be a hard member to replace. However, they recruited Nicko McBrain, who is known as one of the pioneers of heavy metal drumming and one of the most influential drummers of all time, among the names of John Bonham and Neil Peart. His complex drum riffs became a new staple in the Iron Maiden sound, and has since become a definite irreplaceable element in their music.
McBrain's complex drum patterns
In 1989, Smith left the band, citing musical differences. During the late 80s, Iron Maiden had experimented with more mainstream elements, such as synthesizers. After their their 1988 album, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, Adrian left the band and was replaced by Janick Gers, who had worked with Dickinson previously. Ger's style was very different than Smith and was not well received by long time fans. However, with his varied style of playing and songwriting, Iron Maiden was able to expand on their dynamics and broaden their ability to make music.
Iron Maiden with Gers
After more experimentation, Dickinson also left the band in 1993. The band recruited Blaze Bayley as replacement. After two albums failed to succeed, both in sales and reviews, and Bayley had frequent allergic reactions, causing cancellation of many live shows, Bayley left the band by mutual consent in 1999. However, years after he left, the works that he did with Iron Maiden maintain a large cult following and several songs are still regular tracks in live shows. The darker and more melodic style during the Bayley era also served a large influence in future Maiden albums.
A fan favorite, recorded with Bayley
In 1999, fans were excited to hear that both
Dickinson and Smith would be returning to the band. After years in solo and separate works, the two came back with a renewed vision of music. Gers, who had been playing with the band for 10 years, would also stay, forming the rare but not unheard of lead guitar trio. Their first "reunion" album, Brave New World, would be their most successful album in over a decade. Stylistically, they returned to their classic 80s sound, but adapting elements from Smith and Dickinson's solo careers and the dark melodic sounds during the Bayley era.
Iron Maiden in the new millennium
To date, the band has released 14 studio albums (and another one planned for this year or next) and seven live albums. They've performed live in over 2,000 shows and have sold more than 100 million albums worldwide.
/end biography >_>