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From page 14 of Classic Rock Magazine October 2007
THE STORY BEHIND A CLASSIC ALBUM COVER
*THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST RELEASED 1982 HIGHEST UK CHART POSITION #1 SLEEVE DESIGN DEREK RIGGS Q With Bruce Dickinson having taken over from ousted vocalist Paul DrAnno, and worldwide stardom within their grasp, Iron Maiden were a band in transition as they set out to record their third album, The Number Of The Beast.
Some things never change, though, and when the album was released in March 1982 it was reassuring to note two constants in the sleeve design: the band's zombie mascot Eddie (who had previously appeared on the sleeves of 1980's Iron Maiden and 1981's Killers), and Eddie's creator, the British artist Derek Riggs.
Riggs had worked extensively in the industry "a few jazz covers, a few rock covers, several private commissions for various stars, the odd book cover" before begot the call from Maiden. He had also already used Eddie as the basis for a number of paintings, with the character supposedly based on a head he saw hanging over the side of a burnt-out Japanese tank in a TV documentary. "Eddie represented the idea that the youth of today were being wasted by society," Riggs told Classic Rock. "He started out like that, anyway, and I made him more scary.
"I never knew the band very well," he continues. "I'd only met them a few times until !Beast Most of the concepts for the [subsequent] album covers were worked out by me and the manager, Ron Smallwood, then I would go off and try to turn it into a good picture, which often meant redesigning things a bit."
As with most sleeve commissions, Riggs wasn't given long to create the artwork for ..Beast "It was painted in a hurry and never really finished off," he admits. "I spent far longer on Killers, and that accounts for the difference."
As for the idea behind the devilish sleeve, Riggs says there wasn't one. "That particular idea I stole from a comic book that I'd read in the 70s, then I adapted it," he says "I wasn't trying to create a mood. I was just trying to get the job done in the short time that I had. I painted the things I wanted in the picture, and made the lighting match the environment I'd created The Devil just represents the Devil.
"I have no idea whether the band liked it," Rigg says. "You'd have to ask them. But the manager liked it And when Maiden later released a signed, limited series of prints, they chose that picture."
Check out Derek Riggs's website at www.derekriggs.com